Medical Tourism in Iran: A Diamond in the Rough

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08/18/2012 | By: Guest Contributor

While Iran may not be one of the places that pop in your head when mentioning medical tourism, the country is rapidly becoming a major provider for affordable health care abroad.

During recent years, the Iranian government has stepped up its efforts to attract medical tourists mostly for organ transplant, laser eye surgery, orthopedic surgery and cosmetic dentistry.

Iran is also among the 12 countries with biological medicines technology and can serve as a health tourism center 30,000 people come to Iran each year to receive medical treatment (2012), stated by Wikipedia.  

Many medical tourists are not aware of the high standards of medical services provided in Iranian hospital and health care centers. The tarnished image of Tehran discourages many tourists to visit due to political and security concerns.

European tourists dismiss the very idea of traveling to Iran for medical tourism because of the misperceived image and poor brand representation plagued by the country’s controversial political positioning.

Nonetheless, the political and economic sanctions on Iran didn’t stop many Arab and Asian medical tourists from flocking to plastic surgery clinics in Iran.

The World's Capital of Nose Surgery:

It is safe to say that Iran could hold the world’s record in nose surgery treatments. The Islamic Republic of Iran has the highest rate of nose surgery in the world, although precise figures are hard to establish.

In recent years other forms of cosmetic enhancement, including chin implants, finger nail implants, dental veneers and brow lift, have also become popular but the nose surgery remains the most in-demand.

According to BBC News, “since the revolution in 1979, Iran has become one of the world's leading centers for cosmetic surgery with three thousand plastic surgeons operating in Tehran alone.”

Rhinoplasty has become the “in-thing” in Iran; girls wear surgical on their noses as a status of symbol even if they didn’t undergo the treatment.

"It's become a fashion - a competition because a boy wants to compete with another over a girl," Dr Navab says, adding that there are also more and more cases of middle aged men who want to keep up with their young girlfriends,” says Dr. Magid Navab, one of Iran’s most renowned plastic surgeons.

Outstanding achievements in the field of cosmetic surgery have placed Iran among the top ten nations with advanced plastic surgery centers.

Many skilled plastic surgeons are now catering to Iranians living the country and overseas patients as well. Other forms of aesthetic specialties concerned with the correction or restoration of form and function including breast implants, liposuction, tummy tuck and male breast reduction.

Iran is also comparatively affordable plastic surgery in the Middle East and Asia while sustaining a high quality of medical service on par with the US and Europe.   

Mohammadreza Shams-Ardekani of the Ministry of Health told International Medical Travel Journal (IMTJ), “The reasonable cost of medical treatment in Iran compared to Europe and the high quality of medical facilities is an important factor for attracting foreign patients to Iran. In addition, Iran has highly experienced and professional doctors.”

He also stressed that Iran does not have any problem in issue visas to health tourists, “Iran is not a country to close its door to the world. We don’t have any worry about the arrival or exit of tourists. The country issues visas for tourists from 85 nations at the port of arrival.”

Iran is a vast and diverse country, offering a rich blend of culture, history and heritage and natural wonders that is rather distinct in the region.

It is home to 19 ski resorts and mountains reaching peaks higher than 5,000 meters, and offers a wealthy topography as well with breathtaking landscapes.

There are mountain, desert and forest excursion packages offered by the different travel agencies, in addition to eco-tours and diving tours.

Much of these attractions are unknown and undiscovered; and with the charm of Iran’s Persian and Islamic culture, there is plenty to do and see in this country.

Iran has the potential to become a key medical tourism destination and, in the coming years, will gain the interest and attention of international patients. 


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