In 2012, blogger Hong Qiu Ting, 26, paid just $170 dollars for alarplasty to reduce the width of her nostrils in Bangkok at a clinic that she had researched thoroughly online. It also came highly recommended on forums.
In Singapore, she had been quoted $3,500 for the same procedure. But the old adage "you pay for what you get" applied in her case.
She ended up with unbalanced nostrils.
She did not correct it because she says it is not obvious. But she advises those who are considering plastic surgery overseas: "Choose wisely where you do your surgery. Even the most recommended doctor who puts you on a wait list for six months can muck up a simple surgery."
1. Do your research thoroughly
Visit the official tourism site of the cities for more information on the accredited clinics or hospitals.
The Korea Tourism Organisation's (KTO) site lists the outfits that are registered with the South Korean government (asiaenglish.visitkorea.or.kr).
If the clinic or hospital you visited is not on the list, it might be more difficult for the KTO to help you if you have any complaints afterwards, says Ms Caitrin Moh, the organisation's meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions manager.
Do as much research as possible on the clinic or hospital that you are interested in, by visiting their website and going on forums for independent reviews.
Most reputable hospitals that are equipped with dealing with foreign patients have 24-hour Internet chatlines, or live video consultations where queries can be answered.
Also, if the site is written mostly in grammatically correct English, there is a better chance that you would find English-speaking coordinators and doctors there.
For extra security, it is best to get in touch with a medical coordinator at the hospital or clinic who speaks your language before flying over, adds Ms Moh.
2. Do your legwork
Make appointments with and visit at least four clinics before you sign on the dotted line.
Seeing the place in person will give you a better understanding of its facilities and medical staff.
Size does not matter; the biggest hospitals are not necessarily the best, and smaller outfits are not necessarily sub-standard, shares Ms Moh.
Do not make your decisions based merely on the cost.
3. Stick to your guns
Aggressive doctors or coordinators might persuade you to get more procedures done than you need or want. So be firm.
If you want only eyelid surgery, stick to that and do not be swayed, even if they say you will look better with extra work done.
This article was published on April 11 in Urban, The Straits Times.
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