Olivia Wongsuk: Beauty, Health, Happiness and Men.
Motaz Othman, Dubai .....It is always interesting meeting new people, especially when they talk about what they do in business and you get a glimpse into a world you never really knew anything about. The Arabian Travel Market 2018 in Dubai was no exception, and it was during a chance meeting with Ditthakorn Wongsuk, the founder and managing director of Urban Beauty in Thailand, that I found out about the growing market in medical tourism for men.
Destinations such as Bangkok, Phuket and Pattaya in Thailand have long been beauty and cosmetic surgery hubs. However, there is a growing consciousness amongst men about the link between looking good and feeling good, and access to companies like Urban Beauty who are experienced and specialize in wellness services for men is attracting more male clients than ever before from across the globe, including the Middle East.
With an in-depth knowledge about the latest cosmetic and medical procedures, Olivia has strong relationships with Thailand’s top accredited hospitals and clinics. Her background in business and strategic marketing communications and international marketing in Thailand’s aesthetic industry, as well as a fashion career in London, has created a personable, can-do businesswoman who is a go-to source for men who want to improve their wellbeing.
Acting as an agent, rather than charging clients, Urban Beauty offers that personal touch with concierge-style services supporting every aspect of a client’s stay and treatment in Thailand. Urban Beauty is a one-stop cosmetic and medical tourism service; dealing with initial queries to organizing specialist consultations and arranging recuperation and care as well as advising clients on the latest, most innovative procedures available at the best clinics and hospitals in Thailand.
Wanting to know more, I sat down with Olivia to get the inside-scoop on the booming medical tourism market and to learn about some of men’s top wish-list treatments in Thailand.
Q: Why is Thailand such a cosmetic surgery center within Southeast Asia?
A: Actually, the reach is further than that. Many of our clients come from Australia, the UK and of course the Middle East. My office is in an area of Bangkok that attracts a lot of Middle Eastern visitors for business, family vacations and also for medical and wellness treatments. We also have a lot of interest from the international expat community here in Bangkok. The big attraction with Thailand is that the hospital and clinic standards are incredibly high, and the treatments are state-of-the-art, whilst the lower cost compared to say the US or Australia is an added attraction too. There is a successful history of aesthetic surgery in Thailand and great advancements being made in key areas such as anti-aging.
As well as the skills of the surgeons and the outstanding facilities in Thailand, many patients want to combine treatments with a sunny vacation in a beautiful country renowned for its friendly, gentle hospitality.
Q: Are men coming to Thailand for cosmetic surgery mainly?
A: When we think of cosmetic surgery we often think of face lifts and liposuction, but these days there are so many different treatments and many are minimally invasive or even non-invasive, such as threadlift. However, this beauty quest has branched out to include wellness and wellbeing too. Men are more aware of how they look, yet often it is not simply vanity but because they want the way they look to reflect how they feel inside. They want to appear more youthful and feel more vibrant in their business lives. For a lot of men, combining wellness and beauty makes sense and we work out the best options for clients that are doable during one or more trips to Thailand. In that way, I would say that what we are offering and what men are seeking is a more holistic approach.
Q: So, what are some of the medical tourism treatments for men that you deal with?
A: At Urban Beauty, I would say that the top treatments for men include dental work, hair transplants and anti-aging therapies, as well as medical surgeries for health issues. The area of regenerative medicine is revolutionary and innovative with a big focus on longevity and anti-aging too. We source hormone therapy and expert medical help with erectile dysfunction (ED) and fertility as well as offering packages that might include liposuction and body-sculpting to create a six-pack. Stem cell and anti-aging are fast-evolving therapies and Thailand is at the forefront of that. Another really popular request is creating abs for men who simply cannot find definition. We are getting a lot of requests for PRP injections into the knee too to combat osteoarthritis and as an alternative to surgery.
Q: Why do you think more men are seeking these types of treatments?
A: Many of our male patients want to improve themselves from the inside-out, looking great because they feel healthy and boosting their youthful looks too. It is a generalization, but I find that many of our male clients want to deal with an agency that is used to communicating with men, as so many companies are focused on women and beauty only. Once they trust us and see the results they come back, for new therapies and for maintenance too. Life is not just about looking good but quality of life and feeling great for longer. It is not so much about being vain as about taking care of yourself, and men are onboard with this philosophy. Let’s face it, 25 years ago, 50 was seen as quite mature, but these days 60 is the new 40.
Q: Are the staff at Urban Beauty and yourself authorized by the Health Ministry in Thailand?
A: Urban Beauty is not a clinic, so as a medical tourism agency we are not able to be certified in this way but the hospitals and clinics we deal with are certified and many of these, and the surgeons are US board certified. What is important to point out is that some of these top hospitals such as Bumrungrad and BNH are world-class and are renowned globally for their general medicine and specialisms too. We are at the tip of the icerberg when it comes to the potential for cosmetic surgery for men and medical therapies for men’s health issues. Gone are the days when men were too macho to think about their wellness, their appearance and how they feel inside and out.
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