Skip to main content

Thailand offers tourists chance to win a new face

By Karla Cripps, CNN
March 5, 2014 -- Updated 0832 GMT (1632 HKT)
Nearly 1 million medical tourists visited Thailand in 2012 for services such as hip
replacements, dental treatments and cosmetic surgery. In this file photo, a Thai therapist gives a deep laser stimulation treatment to a client at a medical spa in Bangkok.
Nearly 1 million medical tourists visited Thailand in 2012 for services such as hip replacements, dental treatments and cosmetic surgery. In this file photo, a Thai therapist gives a deep laser stimulation treatment to a client at a medical spa in Bangkok.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Thailand Tourism Authority launches contest offering free facial surgery
  • Contest only open to non-Thai women between 25 and 45 years of age
  • An estimated 920,000 to 1.2 million medical tourists came to Thailand in 2013

(CNN) -- Fancy a different face but can't afford to go under the knife?

Thailand's Tourism Authority has launched an Extreme Makeover contest, offering three lucky ladies a chance to win free facial surgery along with a shot at $5,000 and a luxury vacation.

To enter, you'll have to submit photos showing your face from various angles, along with a health profile and written explanation of why you so badly covet a makeover.

The judging committee, made up of medical experts and surgeons, will then pick the three winners. Finalists will be announced on May 7.

Naturally there's a catch.

You'll have to let all your insecurities play out online through videos and photos uploaded to the Extreme Makeover website while you're in Thailand for the surgery.

You'll also be subjected to the scrutiny of public voters, who'll ultimately decide whether you deserve some cash to go with your new face.

The contender with the highest number of votes gets the $5,000 and a luxury tour package.

The two runners-up will also get their own luxury tour packages.

MORE: Medical tourism: A global stampede for affordable care

According to the rules, the Extreme Makeover contest is open to non-Thai women between 25 and 45 years of age who are able to stay in Thailand for a month.

If the official competition video is anything to go by, the contest is aimed at those looking to become the "ultimate beauty" thanks to this "life changing opportunity" that will make their "dreams into a reality."

All you have to do is "click and remain forever young."

The finalists agree to give the Thailand Extreme Makeover project the right to use their names, images, videos and/or audio before and after surgery for display, public relations via online and offline media and domestic and international marketing.

MORE: Rehab tourism in Thailand

Medical tourism contributed 9% of global GDP (more than $6 trillion) in 2011.
Medical tourism contributed 9% of global GDP (more than $6 trillion) in 2011.

Thailand already a medical tourism hotspot

Though the competition was launched to promote medical tourism in Thailand, the country is already considered an industry leader.

"Malaysia, Thailand and South Korea are examples where government support has proved very successful at increasing business year on year, while places like India where governments have done little have seen numbers fall," says a new report by the International Medical Tourism Journal.

Thailand has 30 healthcare organizations accredited by the U.S.-based Joint Commission International, considered a leading evaluator of global heath care quality and safety.

For an international hospital to be accredited, it must meet the same set of standards as U.S. hospitals.

Josef Woodman, CEO of U.S.-based medical travel consumer guide Patients Beyond Borders (PBB), tells CNN an estimated 920,000 to 1.2 million medical tourists came to Thailand in 2013, which represents around 10% of the worldwide patient flow for international medical travel.

However, due to this year's political and social unrest, current flows are 40% off, along with the rest of tourism.

"We expect that to bounce back as usual when things clear up," he adds.

So just how much cheaper is it to get your face lift or hip replacement surgery in Thailand?

Average savings for those visiting from the United States are in the 50-70% range, if you use U.S. costs across a variety of specialties and procedures as a benchmark, says Woodman.

But sometimes that figure can reach 80-85% for the more expensive procedures such as heart and spine work, he adds.

MORE: Bali wants in on the medical tourism action

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1056 GMT (1856 HKT)
Nonprofit Ethical Traveler has released its annual list of the developing countries doing the most to promote human rights and preserve their environments.
December 11, 2014 -- Updated 1036 GMT (1836 HKT)
These waterfront watering holes have killer ocean views, creative drinks and the mahalo vibe we demand.
December 10, 2014 -- Updated 2038 GMT (0438 HKT)
Can't wait to book your ticket to Indianapolis and Oakland? The venerable guidebook is right there with you
December 10, 2014 -- Updated 0625 GMT (1425 HKT)
By helicopter, snowmobile and big-wheel truck across some of the world's most volatile landscapes.
December 9, 2014 -- Updated 2142 GMT (0542 HKT)
Construction begins on a new Singapore airport complex that could make delays and layovers a pleasure.
December 9, 2014 -- Updated 1441 GMT (2241 HKT)
Inflight chatterboxes are annoying but they're not the worst violators of onboard etiquette, according to an Expedia study.
December 8, 2014 -- Updated 2232 GMT (0632 HKT)
These statues are awe-inspiring even for the strongest of non-believers.
December 5, 2014 -- Updated 1659 GMT (0059 HKT)
The Palace of the Parliament, built by former Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.
25 years after the death of Romania's communist dictator, tourism is helping heal old wounds.
December 5, 2014 -- Updated 1152 GMT (1952 HKT)
Photo sharing website names the top 10 destinations for geo-tagged snapshots.
December 3, 2014 -- Updated 1005 GMT (1805 HKT)
New York may be a paradise of Zagat-rated, Michelin-starred restaurants, but some of its best food can be found on the streets.
December 2, 2014 -- Updated 0601 GMT (1401 HKT)
Guide Lebo behind the wheel of Chobe Game Lodge's first electric game viewing vehicle, at Chobe National Park in Botswana.
Chobe Game Lodge in Botswana ups the eco stakes with what it claims is world's first battery-powered safari fleet.
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 0118 GMT (0918 HKT)
The interior of the Formosa Boulevard Mass Rapid Transit Station in Kaohsiung, in southern Taiwan.
These quirky and beautiful subway stops make standing cheek-to-cheek with 45 strangers almost seem fun.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 1314 GMT (2114 HKT)
A scene from a desert safari in Dubai
Luxury vintage Land Rover tours explore Bedouin backwaters without bashing up precious dunes.
ADVERTISEMENT