Panama’s Health Tourism Boom

A new kind of tourism is sweeping into Panama, but these visitors are not just coming for sun and fun. Offering first-rate health care at cut-rate prices, Panama is attracting the latest kind of traveler: the medical tourist.

Medical tourism is a rapidly growing, multi-billion dollar worldwide industry. Countries like India and Thailand have long been attracting patients from developed countries looking to escape the high prices and long waits at home, providing high-quality health care at a fraction of the price.

Panama is one of the latest countries to emerge on the health tourism scene, offering US-trained doctors, state-of-the-art infrastructure and equipment, plus a distinct advantage — proximity to North America. With as many as 45 million Americans uninsured, and Canadians waiting up to two years for critical procedures, many are looking south for alternatives.

“The demand is very strong, and we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface,” says Rudy Rupak, president of Planet Hospital, a medical tourism agency researching qualified doctors and hospitals in countries around the world to perform procedures for clients who cannot afford, or wait, in their home countries.

His company recently added Panama to its list of destinations, thanks to the newly-opened Punta Pacifica hospital, an affiliate of the prestigious US hospital, John Hopkins Medicine International.

“We look for doctors who are educated in the USA, or other excellent institutions abroad such as in Canada, the UK or Europe,” explains Mr Rupak, “as well as peer review, publications over the years in their area of specialization, and patient interviews.”

“I see Panama as a strategic place, with a good location, just a five or six hour flight from the US. But the main factors are quality of doctors and the presence of a US hospital,” he says.

Add to that a beautiful setting for recovery, personalized care, short wait times and price tags 40% to 70% less than those in the US — and the allure is clear.

Dr Richard Ford, medical coordinator of Pana-Health, a group of doctors specializing in medical tourism to Panama, estimates tourists spent in approximately $5 million last year on procedures such as cosmetic surgery, in-vitro fertilization, orthopedic prostheses, dentistry and laser eye surgery.

Despite the growing trade, the Panamanian government is not yet tracking health tourism numbers, but Dr Ford says they are on the rise, pegging 2006 figures at more than one thousand, a sharp increase over previous years.

“[That] is about 35 per cent more than the previous year and 80 per cent more than the year before,” he estimates.

While these numbers might seem small, Rudy Rupak believes they are about to explode, with many health officials and policy makers in the US calling for Medicare to pay for procedures abroad, to relieve a soon-to-be overburdened health care system.

Debra Lipson, a senior health researcher speaking at an AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) forum, said outsourcing medical care could amount to big savings in the US.

According to one study, she said, “the US could save $1.4 billion annually if only one in ten US patients receives treatment for 15 low-risk medical procedures abroad.”

Many of those who migrated from Latin America are returning to their home countries to retire, she pointed out, also taking advantage of ‘more affordable aged care support and services’.

“My husband’s parents recently moved back to Panama, after spending 15 years in the US,” she recounted. “They are still among the “young-old” — not yet out of their sixties. But my mother-in-law has a neurological condition that requires constant vigilance and I sleep better at night knowing that she has reliable, affordable care.”

Liposuction – The Risks and Benefits

Liposuction is a largely cosmetic procedure that is designed to remove fat and help shape problem areas. This procedure does carry some risks as well and it is important that you understand the risks you are taking as well as the potential side effects that are par for the course when it comes to liposuction. It helps put things into perspective when you consider the benefits along side the risks of this plastic surgery procedure.

Benefits of Liposuction

The benefits of liposuction go beyond the mere physical. Some people are self conscious to the point of pain about the condition of their bodies or certain problem areas. A better self image is more than worth the expense of liposuction to many people who have struggled with sculpting and/or shaping their bodies with fat and weight loss goals for years. The mental benefits alone are worth giving serious weight when measuring the pros and cons of liposuction and should not be easily dismissed.

Physical benefits include changes in the way you look. Liposuction can be used to not only change the shape of your body but you can also choose the areas that liposuction targets so that it impacts the way your clothes look on you as well as the clothes you can fit into. If you’ve struggled with sculpting and toning your body liposuction can help achieve the overall look you are hoping to.

Risks of Liposuction

There are plenty of risks and potential side effects that go hand in hand with liposuction. If you are considering this procedure it would be remiss not to carefully take stock of these risks before deciding to embark on this particular journey. The highlights, when it comes to risk, include: infection, drug reactions, organ damage, scarring, excess skin, and even death. This is not something to be taken lightly.

Antibiotics are generally prescribed afterwards in order to fight off potential infections. If you experience a high fever or other symptoms of an infection after liposuction you should not wait but return immediately to your physician to check things out immediately.

Education is the best tool you can bring with you to your liposuction procedure if you elect, like many other Americans each year to go through with it. Despite the risks, liposuction continues to be one of the most often performed cosmetic procedures. The recovery time for liposuction is relatively short requiring you to wear a special garment for up to 3 weeks. During this time you may experience discomfort, pain, numbness, and swelling in the area where the surgery was performed.

You will want to move around as soon as possible (including walking) after the surgery in order to prevent blood clots from forming though you will not want to participate in exercises or exertion that are more strenuous than walking for several weeks after your procedure. The best news for many considering liposuction is that you can generally return to work within a few days of having the surgery performed.

So there you go.

Only you can decide if liposuction is a valid option for you but you should be able to make an informed decision if you ask plenty of questions and gather all the facts.

Want to Read a Volufiline Review?

Through the health and beauty industry there is talk spreading about Volufiline, a cosmetic ingredient, but what exactly is it? What does Volufiline do? Why should I buy it? Where can I locate skin creams that contain this fantastic addition to the formula?

There are a lot of women and men asking these same kinds of questions since the news about Volufiline came to the health and beauty market recently. These are the kinds of inquiries that come from people that want to shape the contours and curves of their body. The focus is on the hips and thighs, buttocks and breasts.

I read the comments of one woman in a forum in which she was using the Volufiline cream on her the skin above her low neck line call the décolleté, as well as her hand, knee, elbow, temple, cheek, buttock and forearm only one the left side of her body. This woman had actually bought a breast enhancement product with Volufiline in it and was using it on her left side of the body and reported satisfactory results within 3 weeks of regular use. This gives you and me an idea of the places we would like to have a little more flesh on our bodies.

What is Volufiline?

It is an ingredient used in cosmetics that is unique in that it works under the skin without stimulating hormones like estrogen and progesterone. It is made by a cosmetic ingredients company and is the combination of hydrogenated polyisobutene, a synthetic oil that is widely used in cosmetics, and root extract of the anemarrhenae asphodeloides plant, a laxative that is also used to make soap. Unlikely as it may seem, this combination is good at stimulating the adipocytes, the connective tissue that makes and stores fat.

What does it do?

It has the ability to define and remodel the curves of the décolleté through a progressive cosmetic lipofilling-like action.

This solution does not stimulate hormones to be effective but it stimulates adipocyte differentiation, proliferation and increases volume. When applied it will work locally increasing volume where it is wanted. Most people will use it on the breasts or buttocks but it can be used anywhere. Some people are using on their hands and/or cheeks to get a more plump appearance.

Are there clinical scientific studies that have been done on Volufiline?

Volufiline has been clinically tested with positive results. In one study women between the ages of 18 and 35 with a cup size of 30A to 34AA. Applications of a 5% Volufiline cream were applied to one breast for 56 days. There was an increase in breast tissue on average of up to 8.4% over the untreated breast.

An in vitro evaluation of Volufiline yielded the following results.

On adipocytes there was an increase in cell volume of over 22 times and lipid storages increased more than 600%!

On pre-adipocytes cell differentiation increased by more than 200%! A pre-adipocyte is a premature adipocyte.

Lipo Dissolve vs Liposuction – Major Differences Between Two Fat Loss Treatments

You may have heard about one of the newest crazes in plastic surgery called lipo-dissolve. This is not to be confused with the tried and true mechanism of fat removal called liposuction. While both of these methods remove unwanted fat in “problem” areas of the human body, they are distinctly different in mechanism, side effects, safety and FDA approval status.

Liposuction was originated by a French physician and became increasingly popular in the eighties and nineties. The procedure can be done in a plastic surgeon’s office and does not typically require a hospital stay.

A liposuction patient has their “problem” area properly marked, sterilized with Betadine and is given a local anesthetic or complete anesthesia. The physician takes a small stick-like suction device called a cannula and removes the unwanted fat in the designated problem area. The fat is literally vacuumed out by the cannula while the patient’s vital signs are continuously monitored. This usually involves an infusion of fluids into the marked area of fat removal to help loosen the fat cells while keeping the patient’s fluid balance in check. This type of procedure is known as a wet or super wet and is more commonly used.

Liposuction is an approved method of cosmetic surgery by the federal Food and Drug Administration in the U.S., also known as the FDA. The fat removal procedure is not intended to replace diet and exercise and is limited in the amount of fat that is removed. Typically, liposuction does not remove more than five liters of fat per patient. The greater the amount of fat that is removed the greater amount of risk is involved.

Unlike liposuction, the new fad of lipo-dissolve is not approved by the FDA. This form of fat removal has been around for a significantly less amount of time and has had no sustaining clinical trials to prove its safety or long-term effects. Additionally, Kansas has attempted to pass legislation barring its physicians from giving PC/DC injections, the standard lipo-dissolve treatment. A Kansas court, however, blocked the legislation from taking effect while the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts solicits public opinion and holds further discussion on the merits and dangers of this currently unapproved therapy.

Lipo-dissolve businesses claim that the procedure is another way to remove fat from “problem” areas. But unlike the invasive liposuction procedure, it involves injections to kill the fat cells, or as some lipo-dissolve ads claim “melt the fat away.” The injections can consist of various concoctions that can kill fat cells and most doctors urge patients to learn what is in the syringe before they agree to a lipo-dissolve injection. The most common formula used for injections is a combination of phosphatidylcholine and sodium deoxycholate (PC/DC). Most of these injections are taken as a series requiring multiple injections for one area. It is important to note that the FDA has repeatedly issued statements that “Consumers need to know that this is a buyer-beware situation. These are unapproved drugs for unapproved uses and we can’t guarantee consumers’ safety.”

The amount of fat that is removed with the injections is markedly smaller than the amount removed from a liposuction procedure but many people are finding that the injections are a nice alternative to the more aggressive liposuction.

There have been many positive results reported from people who have taken the injections, but concerns remain over its safety. Dr. Michael Olding, Chief of Plastic Surgery at George Washington University, stated on a program about lipo-dissolve for the Washington Post, “My problem with the technique [lipo-dissolve] is that its safety and effectiveness has not been investigated thoroughly enough.” Leading medical societies agree and have issued warnings to patients about the use of it.

Both procedures offer individuals an opportunity to sculpt their fat but neither one should be considered as a form of weight loss remedy.

How to Decide If a Voluntary Medical Procedure is For You

There are some people who are so afraid of medical procedures they will go to great lengths to avoid them even when necessary. They put off visiting a doctor until their symptoms are unbearable or until something is seriously wrong. Not everyone is like this though. Many people understand the value of not just medical care, but volunteer surgeries. Some go overboard with voluntary procedures and the opposite end of the surgery spectrum can be just as dangerous and expensive as avoiding medical attention. But if you are able to find a happy balance between necessary procedures and procedures that will help you live a happier, healthier life, you will find there are numerous benefits to being open to voluntary medical procedures. Imagine you are a couple desperate to have a child but your body is not cooperating. You may need the support of a fertility clinic. Fertility problems can be treated safely and effectively, and before you know it you will be welcoming a new addition to your family. These procedures can be expensive and there is some risk associated with them, but if you visit an experienced, professional doctor, there is no reason why your treatment cannot go smoothly and work out well for you and your spouse.

People who have spent their lives unhappy with a specific part of their body may be some of the first to consider voluntary surgical procedures. Plastic or cosmetic surgery will help you alter your body so you are a better version of yourself. In cases where a facial feature or aspect of your body has always prevented you from feeling truly beautiful, a surgical procedure could change your entire life by boosting your confidence and getting that feeling you have always wanted. If you have found your body has changed due to childbirth or the normal changes that come with age, cosmetic surgery can help you restore your body to a younger, more familiar shape or size. Cosmetic surgery changes are not going to make you into an entirely new person, but they may be just the boost you have been searching for.

Finally, there are voluntary surgical procedures that will improve your health but that may not be treating a life threatening issue. If you are dealing with pain and discomfort in certain parts of your body, there are often things that can be done that will relieve your chronic pain. You could live without these procedures, but by taking the somewhat controllable risk of having surgery, you will eventually lead a higher quality of life. Most doctors recommend that the surgery is worth the risk unless another issue you have increases the risk a great deal. In many cases, health insurance will pay for these procedures, but there are occasions when they are not viewed as necessary, so there may be some financial challenges associated with the surgery. In the long run though, if you can eliminate chronic pain in your daily life, you will be happy with your choice.