Health Tourism Face lift, luxury safari -- bargain price.

by Neil Edward Schlecht ,  CNN | 2008-01-03

Colleen Hiltbrunner spent two years researching her dream trip to South Africa. But she wasn't looking for the perfect safari lodge. She was hunting for the right cosmetic surgeon.

When she told her family, it wasn't an easy sell. "South Africa? You're going to get some kind of witch doctor," she recalls her father saying.

"But I told him they perfected some of the first heart surgeries down there. To me, South Africa had the most reputable surgeons."

Hiltbrunner, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, traveled to Johannesburg in 2004 for a face-lift, upper arm lift and eyelid surgery. And she and her husband -- who hadn't taken a vacation in 20 years -- went on a luxury safari, included in the package by medical-travel agency Surgeon and Safari.

"Medical tourism" may sound strange, but patients are discovering they can get some cosmetic surgeries abroad for less than the U.S. price. And many surgeries include sightseeing packages.

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