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Phuket’s secret souvenir: The perfect pair

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Breasts are big in Phuket. Big business, that is. In recent years, both Bangkok Hospital Phuket and Phuket International Hospital have seen dramatic increases in cosmetic breast surgeries, fueled by rising numbers of medical tourists. The Phuket Gazette’s Orawin Narabal reports on one of the island’s hottest tourist draws: The boob job.

PHUKET: Together, Phuket International Hospital and Bangkok Hospital Phuket did upwards of 1,600 breast augmentation surgeries – also known as boob jobs, or implant surgeries – last year.

“We’ve had a 50 per cent year-on-year increase in cosmetic breast surgeries,” said Peter Davison, Manager of International Services at Phuket International Hospital (PIH).

Considering that the hospitals also do breast lifts and reductions, and that prices for the three surgeries range from 115,000 baht to 300,000 baht, some pretty serious money is at stake.

The vast majority of women getting the surgeries at Phuket hospitals are medical tourists; about 97 per cent at PIH according to Mr Davison, with most coming from Australia and New Zealand. And there’s no reason to think that their interest will wane anytime soon.

Phuket's secret souvenir: The perfect pair | News by The Thaiger
Breast augmentation stats. Click here to enlarge image.

First, because breast surgeries – augmentations, lifts, and reductions (for both men and women) – make up four of the 10 most popular plastic surgeries worldwide, according to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, with breast augmentations reaching number two on the list, outranked only by liposuction.

Second, because Phuket prices are a great bargain. Australian prices are up to three times higher, even factoring in the cost of travel to Phuket and accommodations here.

Last, because medical tourism has the support of the Tourism Association of Thailand (TAT), which has been promoting it since 2004 and runs yearly familiarization trips for foreign tourism and health tourism agencies.

MEDICAL TOURISM

On a TAT website dedicated exclusively to medical tourism, the featured Phuket hospitals are Phuket International, Bangkok Phuket (BHP) and Vachira, but only the first two have active links.

PIH and BHP homepages both have prominent links to their cosmetic surgery centers, and both make it easy for medical tourists to arrange a visit, offering detailed information not only about surgeries but also how many days the patient should plan to stay in Phuket. PIH even provides an interactive calculator to help estimate total costs.

HISTORY OF IMPLANTS

Silicone breast implants have been around for just over 50 years – the first surgery was performed in the US in 1962. But women have endeavored to increase the size of their bosoms for a lot longer than that – as far back as the 1890s, they injected paraffin, but it didn’t stay put. In the 20s and 30s women had fat from other parts of their bodies moved to their breasts. At other times, implants included polyurethane, cartilage, sponges, wood and glass balls.

There have been health scares: silicone implants were banned in the US from 1991 to 2006 over concerns that ruptures could cause cancer and auto-immune diseases, and a scandal arose around Poly Implants Prothese, a French implant company, in 2010 when their implants, which used substandard silicone, were found to rupture at a higher rate than normal. French health authorities – though not those in other countries where the implants were used – urged 30,000 French women to have the defective implants removed.

MOTIVATION

Despite the cost, the pain and the hassle, women are willing to get this unnecessary surgery. Why? The Gazette talked to several women, and the comments of one 44-year-old represent the group.

“After I had a child, my breasts were not firm. I was very slim, only 40kg at the time, and I felt like my breasts had disappeared.

“Back then, I liked to go to parties and I wanted to look beautiful and fit when I wore a sexy or open dress. I would not be happy if I looked at myself in the mirror and saw that I didn’t have beautiful breasts.

“I am very happy with the results. They meet my expectations.

“The only problem I have is that I lost some sensitivity around my nipples because the incision was there.

“Most of my friends don’t know that I’ve had surgery until I tell them.

“My husband liked my body even before, but afterwards he told me I look more curvy and balanced. He sees how happy I am, and whatever makes me happy, makes him happy too.”

THE PROCEDURE

Phuket's secret souvenir: The perfect pair | News by The Thaiger
Choosing a surgeon. Click here to enlarge image.

Dr Chirayuth Toertmongkhol, a plastic surgeon at Bangkok Hospital Phuket, explained the steps to implant surgery.

“We start with a physical checkup to make sure the patient can tolerate the surgery. Then we discuss the options,” he explained.

Patients need to make a number of choices: breast size, kind of implant, and location of the incision.

“When women choose a size they need to keep in mind the size of their bodies. If the patient is small, they won’t be able to handle very big implants. The implant needs to be in balance with their body size.

“Implants are either saline or silicone. Nowadays the silicone implants are more popular because they give a better shape and are easier to take care of,” Dr Chirayuth said.

“Implants can be rough or smooth, and come in two shapes, round and tear drop. The tear drop gives a more natural shape,” he added.

Another major consideration is the location of the incision, since this determines where the scar will be – in the armpit, below the breast, or around the nipple.

While women used to prefer an armpit incision, nowadays they are wearing more sleeveless clothes and so opt for one of the other locations, Dr Chirayuth said.

The implant surgery itself normally doesn’t take longer than a long massage – about two hours.

Surgeons first try out tester implants for size. Only when they’re sure the size and shape are appropriate will they proceed.

“It requires a week in the hospital after surgery, Dr Chirayuth said, “and we recommend regular checkups for three to six months after the surgery to monitor the formation of scar tissue around the implant. The scar tissue helps support the weight of the implant and also shapes it.”

Following the surgery, patients are advised not to perform any activities that might affect the shape of the breasts. This means some sports are out, as is sleeping face-down.

RISKS

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that although implants are tested extensively, they still bring risks, including: Additional surgeries, capsular contracture (scar tissue that squeezes and misshapes the implant), breast pain, rupture with deflation of saline-filled implants, and silent rupture of silicone gel-filled implants.

The FDA recommends that women with silicone implants get MRI screenings to d

— Orawin Narabal

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Phuket

Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Marina Krasnopolska

WARNING! Content below contains photos of self-mutilation that some may find disturbing.

The flags on Go Teng poles were lowered on Monday, ending Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival and symbolising that the spirits have returned the heavens. The flags are raised at the start of the festivities each year at participating shrines, calling on the spirits to descend from the heavens.

This year, 2 men were electrocuted while taking down the festival flags. A steel pole with the flag touched a power pole, electrocuting and burning the workers as they were trying to lower the flags. They were taken to the hospital.

During the festival’s street processions and ceremonies so-called “mah songs” channel the descended spirits. They enter a trance-like state and many practice self-mutilation to channel the spirits. “Mah” means horse in Thai, and some say the mah song acts as a horse for the spirit to ride.

Some mah song pierce their cheeks and other parts of their body with steel spikes and sometimes swords or other bizarre choices (we’ve seen petrol pumps, javelins, samurai swords and kitchen utensils). During the street procession, they walk for hours with the self-inflicted piercings, seemingly posessed by ‘spirits’ and muttering all sort of strange chants, verging on mild cases of Tourette syndrome. A team of devotees for each mah song wipe away blood and keep the wounds clean. Some mah songs even slice their tongue for the street procession. Blood drips on their chest and the ground. Waiting bystanders line the streets hoping for the blessing of a passing mah song. Some mah songs carry a black flag.

The event is an annual spiritual ‘cleansing’ for those in watching the processions. Onlookers lining the street bow their heads and place their hands in the “wai” position as the mah song waves flags and banners over their heads. Businesses along the procession route often set up an altar outside their shop and mah songs stop at each one to do a short ritual.

The Phuket government gave the festival organisers the “okay” to hold this years event with hopes that it would increase domestic tourism and generate much-needed revenue after the Thai government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic crippled Phuket’s tourist economy. Before this year’s festival, Phuket City Mayor Somjai Suwansupana asked that the mah songs “limit the level of torturing.” He also called for a limit on the number of people at ceremonies to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

His calls were largely ignored.

The spirits will again return in 2021 to Phuket again cleanse the island’s large Thai-Chinese community.

Photos of the 2020 Vegetarian Festival by Marina Krasnopolska.

Phuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Phuket

Phuket told to prepare “response plan” in case of second Covid-19 outbreak

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket told to prepare “response plan” in case of second Covid-19 outbreak | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Daily News

As Phuket awaits foreign tourists, city officials are told to prepare a “response plan” in case of a second wave of Covid-19. An official from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports held a workshop in Phuket today to discuss the risk of another outbreak as the country opens up to those on the Special Tourist Visa.

The ministry’s permanent secretary Chote Trachu says now that the country is allowing tourists (who are required to quarantine upon arrival) an infection “may somehow slip through.” He says a response plan needs to be in place in case this happens, adding that there should be corporation from the Ministry of Public Health and Ministry of Defense.

“If any tourists are found to be infected, the disease must not be allowed to spread among the people. There should be no panic, and public health officers will investigate the case. Tourist Police will track down the suspected person in an investigation with the Ministry of Public Health.”

Chote says all provinces – not just Phuket – should have a response plan. Although tourists must go through a mandatory 14 day quarantine upon arrival, Chote says there are some cases where the incubation period for Covid-19 is longer than 14 days.

“There are a variety of cases. Sometimes, the infection does not show after 14 days, or even 15 or 16 days. Each situation is different.”

Recently, a woman in Koh Samui tested positive for the coronavirus 5 days after she was released from a Samut Prakan quarantine facility. Traces of the virus were found on gym equipment the woman used at the quarantine, leading health officials to suspect she was infected before arriving to the island.

“We urge Thai people to not let their guard down. Everyone must wear masks, wash their hands and take care of personal hygiene. This will help prevent them from contracting the disease.”

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Business

Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub

Maya Taylor

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Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub | The Thaiger
Mai Khao beach in north Phuket - PHOTO: www.makemytrip.com

Industry officials are seeking the go-ahead for a project to transform over 140 rai of government land in Phuket into a world-leading medical hub. The project is budgeted at 3 – 4 billion baht, depending on which report you read. Kitkong Tantijaraswarodom, from the Federation of Thai Industries, believes the development of a medical and wellness hub in the sub-district of Mai Khao, north Phuket, will help revive the southern island’s battered economy. Phuket has become increasingly reliant on a steady flow of tourists over the past 2 decades.

The southern division of the FTI covers Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, Patthalung, Surat Thani, Ranong, Satun, Chumphon, and Songkhla.

“The FTI will ask the government to green-light the project during the scheduled mobile cabinet meeting on the island on November 3.”

Kitkong says businesspeople in the south are anxious for the government to approve the project, which will provide both locals and foreign medical tourists with state-of-the-art medical care. The facility is expected to include long-term care, hospice and rehabilitation services, in addition to a dental hospital, sports therapy centre, and a medical training school for doctors, nurses, pharmacists and medical laboratory scientists.

The chair of the FTI’s southern chapter is also calling on officials to provide small and medium-sized businesses with additional support, in the form of access to loans, in order to deal with cash shortages.

“In the short term, the FTI wants the government to help SMEs, especially those in the tourism sector.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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