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Medical Tourism
Travelers Health
Monday April 11, 2005

Penang, Malaysia (PRWEB) April 7, 2005 — As Kathy Bogardus sat in the reception area of the hospital filling out the final consent forms prior to her cosmetic surgery, she was admittedly nervous, but not about what one would think.

Nearly 10,000 miles from home, Bogardus, 61, was anxious about what she was going to wear upon her return to Oriental, North Carolina for her first public appearance - a formal dance. As for her confidence in her Malaysian cosmetic surgeon, Dr. Danny Oh, the feelings were summed up by her traveling companion and fellow patient, registered nurse Kimberlee Tyner.

“It’s a no-brainer,” the 45-year-old Tyner explained, as she filled out her own set of consent forms for a liposuction procedure to be performed the next day. After touring the hospital and setting forth a flurry of medical related questions to the staff, the veteran nurse’s mind was made up.

Halfway around the world from their East Coast homes, the two women were about to join an ever-growing list of individuals who are traveling to other nations to undergo surgical procedures that would be cost restrictive in their own countries. In addition, they get a bit of a vacation in the process.

“It’s not really a holiday, you are recovering from surgery,” admitted Marloes Giezenaar, managing director and founder of Beautiful Holidays . However, she continued, why not recover in an Asian paradise?

Located off the western coast of Malaysia, Penang is a turtle shaped island that is home to about 1.2 million people. A mix of Muslim, Chinese and English traditions, the region is made up of numerous cultures as well as a large ex-patriot community with representatives from the Netherlands, England, Japan and around the world.

Working with the hospital and four upscale island hotels, Giezenaar has built a solid clientele of Europeans who have traveled to the region for cosmetic surgery and other procedures, staying for up to two weeks for a luxurious and relaxing recovery. From the moment a client steps off the plane, they are in the capable hands of Giezenaar and her staff.

“With us it’s all about private, personalized services,” Giezenaar explained. “You’re not alone.”

Word of mouth about Beautiful Holidays has spread around the globe, leading to Gieznaar’s partnership with American company MedRetreat and the arrival of Tyner and Bogardus, the first American medical tourism clients she has hosted in Penang.

While Americans continue to debate the safety of medical tourism, many of their fears based upon misinformation and outdated facts, Bogardus and Tyner conducted intensive research before agreeing to the procedure, including an in-depth hour long consultation with their surgeon.

They learned, as have countless others around the world, that for the price of surgery in the United States they can travel to another country to undergo a safe procedure and enjoy a two-week recuperation in an upscale seaside hotel. Instead of healing in a cramped high priced Western hospital room or hiding in their home, individuals can take advantage of room service and rest poolside watching tropical sunsets.

“I like people who ask all the questions,” Dr. Oh said as he spoke with the women before their procedures. During the consultation he explained the procedures, inquired in depth about their medical history and made every effort to make his patients feel confident.

“What bothers you most,” Oh asked Bogardus, as they looked over a digital photo of her face. “You are the expert for your face, not me.”

After living in the United States for 27 years, where he earned his medical degree from Loma Linda University and practiced medicine in Ohio, Oh returned to his native Malaysia. Now he sees an ever growing number of foreign patients trying to escape high medical costs in their own countries.

Oh prides himself on the fact he does the cosmetic work that his patients want and never forces anything on them. In fact during one consultation, a Chinese woman wanted breast augmentation so her husband would stop cheating on her. Oh refused, saying that her problem wasn’t how she looked, but her relationship with her husband. A few months later the women returned to Oh’s office crying with happiness. She had been able to revive her marriage without going under the knife.

“That was the best surgery I never did,” he said smiling.

Following their procedures, as they recovered poolside at the waterfront Eastern and Oriental Hotel in Penang, Tyner and Bogardus began to look forward to their return to the United States. Not only for Bogardus’ grand unveiling at her April 1 dance, but also to spread the word of their adventure and satisfaction. Bogardus is even considering a return to the laid back island.

“As a tour guide,” she said, preparing a mental list of her friends in North Carolina who would be interested in the cost effective procedures of medical tourism.

Tyner and Bogardus will be participating in a press conference in Washington, D.C. at the Embassy of Malaysia, 3516 International Court, N.W. on April 11. Also present will be Giezenaar, the hospital CEO Tederic Mohr and freelance journalist Eric Paul Erickson who accompanied the patients on their trip. For more information on Tyner and Bogardus’ procedures, Beautiful Holidays and MedRetreat, please contact Ian Bryan at Sensible City.