'Boob job' holidays lure Kiwi women

Amber Simm, 25, travelled to Thailand to have breast implants. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Amber Simm, 25, travelled to Thailand to have breast implants. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Kiwi women eyeing up a pair of new breasts are taking advantage of cosmetic tourism jaunts to the Gold Coast where they pay just half of the domestic price and recover in resorts.

However, local experts warn the practice - that some businesses say has increased by 40 per cent since 2011 - is risky and can have long-lasting health effects.

Australian company CosMediTours launched its Gold Coast Breast Academy this month.

"We've got hundreds of inquiries already and online applications," said marketing director Greg Lemon. "We got a strong response from New Zealand and we knew we would."

Prices started at $7447 for a breast augmentation including plastic surgeon, anaesthetist and implants at a private hospital. An $8633 package included nine nights' stay in a luxury resort including transfers, meals and nursing. Flights were not included.

Treatments in New Zealand ranged from $11,000 to $14,000.

Mr Lemon said early indications suggested at least 20 Kiwi women a month would buy the "boob job holidays" as the company, that also offers jaunts to Thailand, moved cosmetic tourism closer amid the country's political turmoil.

"We've been sending Kiwis to Thailand for the last four or five years and probably send about 10 a month there but it's a lot further away."

One Auckland-based business that takes clients to Thailand said it has had a 40 per cent increase in business in the past three years.

Jo Houstan owns Auckland-based Beautiful Escapes which takes groups of men and women to Pattaya for cosmetic surgery. She said the busiest time was between April and October when groups of up to 20 would travel.

Liposuction and facial, neck and breast lifts for women aged between 45 and 55 were popular.

New Zealand Association of Plastic Surgeons president John de Waal said it was risky to put price before health.

"Making compromises for price is perfectly fine if you are buying a handbag or a used washing machine because you can throw it away and buy a new one. With cosmetic surgery you can't do that."

He said it was important to know a doctor's qualifications, undergo procedures in a safe environment and receive follow-up care.

Mr Lemon said the procedures were R-18 and subject to stringent medical and mental health screening.

An ACC spokeswoman said since 2005 the agency had accepted fewer than four claims and declined six related to breast reconstruction or implant treatment injuries that occurred in overseas hospitals.

- By Morgan Tait of the New Zealand Herald

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