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Singles’ Day lift for Thai cosmetic surgery

20201112 Thailand medical tourism
Thailand is a major hub for medical tourism, attracting clients from Asia and Australia to their hospitals and clinics. Image: IStock/Steve Debenport via AFP Relaxnews.

A Thai cosmetic surgery clinic saw patients snap up nose jobs and eyelid operations for its first-ever “Singles’ Day” sale Wednesday, Nov. 11, capitalizing on the world’s largest shopping bonanza to boost business hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The unofficial Nov. 11 spending spree started in China and has spread to other countries in recent years, outpacing the pre-Christmas “Black Friday” sale in the United States.

In Bangkok, the plastic surgery capital of Southeast Asia, the Vayo Clinic tapped into the consumer frenzy with a flash sale, launched after a year that has seen coronavirus travel restrictions hit trade hard.

Nose jobs and double eyelid surgery, popular among Asian customers wanting more “Western” eyes, typically start at ฿30,000 Thai baht (around $990 or P48,000), but are now priced at ฿7,000 (around $230 or P11,200).

“When I saw the promotion last night, I decided to book an operation right away,” Somprasong Aimsantia told AFP, seated in the clinic waiting room decorated with Versailles-inspired gold-flecked couches. “It’s a very reasonable price.”

The 35-year-old is opting for a silicone bridge to enhance the sharpness of her nose.

After a brief consultation with clinic owner Sakirin Al-Ishak, who pinches her nose upward to show the effect post-surgery, she is ushered into an operating room and given a local anaesthetic.

Thailand is a major hub for medical tourism, attracting clients from Asia and Australia to their hospitals and clinics. These include plastic surgery procedures that come bundled in package deals with luxury hotel stays to recover from invasive operations such as breast implants.

‘Like a gift’

However, travel restrictions imposed to stem the spread of COVID-19 has severely impacted the lucrative industry, worth some $600 million (about P29 billion), slowing the planeloads of patients to a trickle.

At the Vayo Clinic, clients have fallen by up to 30% and Sakirin said the Singles’ Day sale was to encourage “loyal” customers hit hard by pandemic-spurred economic woes.

“With the economic crisis, some of our patients who already booked have had to postpone their operation because they aren’t able to pay… You could say it’s like a gift to them,” he said. “The 11/11 promotion gives those patients a chance to do what they’ve been wishing faster.”

All 20 operating slots on offer were quickly snapped up.

Somprasong, whose procedure took roughly an hour, waved off her flash decision for a permanent facial fix, saying it was something she had wanted to do all her life.

“My friends always called me ‘flat nose.’ It will make me more beautiful,” she said, adding that such quick nip-and-tucks have become “a normal thing to do in Thailand.” CC


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