Plastic and cosmetic surgery is a young and booming business in Phuket. Dr Sanguan Kunaporn, one of the pioneers, admits that he had no idea it would take off in the way that it has.
Fifteen years ago he was working as a surgeon in the province's government hospital, Vachira Phuket. He also had a private practice, the Phuket Plastic Surgery Clinic, and was developing a name for his expertise in male-to-female sex reassignment surgery - turning men into women.
"I got inspiration from Khun Anurak Thansiriroj, the managing director of the Phuket International Hospital," Dr Sanguan recalls. "He said to me, 'Why don't we let the outside world know what we are capable of, here in Phuket?'"
- Phuket FantaSea Cultural Theme Park
- Phi Phi Islands Tour with Express Boat
- James Bond Island Full-Day Tour via Big Boat
- Coral & Racha Islands Full-Day Tour
- Whitewater Rafting & 4-Wheel-Drive Adventure
- Sea Kayaking at Ang Thong Marine Park
- Flying Hanuman Ziplining Experience
- Canoeing Excursion in Phang Nga Bay with Thai Buffet Lunch
- Introduction to City Tour
- John Gray's Cave Canoeing Tour in Phang Nga Bay
Khun Anurak was referring to the skills of the medical community in Phuket in general. Dr Sanguan admits that, at that time, he had no idea how to start marketing or spreading the word out about his own work. How could a lone surgeon from a nowhere place like Phuket in a developing country like Thailand break through into the wide world? He struggled for a long time to find answers until his "true hero", the Internet, caught his attention.
On January 1, 1998, when Internet use was still in its infancy on Phuket, Dr Sanguan launched his own website, www.phuket-plasticsurgery.com. He considers it the best investment he has ever made; the cost was minimal but the feedback has been huge. Demand for his sex reassignment skills took off like a rocket. To date he has done more than 600 such operations.
The Price Advantage
Dr Sanguan says his fee for a sex-change operation is around 30% to 40% of the price for the same procedure in the US. Khun Pipat agrees. Prices at Phuket Laser Center, he says, are about a third of those in the US.
The prices below demonstrate why Phuket has developed a reputation as a good-value destination for plastic and cosmetic surgery and associated procedures.
|Procedure||Phuket price |
|US price |
|Phuket price |
|US price |
|Laser Tooth Whitening||12,000||24,000||300||600|
The More the Merrier
Dr Sanguan used to be the only plastic surgeon on Phuket. But things have changed; now there are more than five such surgeons in full-time practice on the island. In addition, there are several surgical and dental specialists from Bangkok who fly down regularly. Medical services, especially plastic and cosmetic surgery, have ushered in a new kind of tourism for Phuket.