If you’re nodding your head yes, then maybe you’re already considering dental travel. Each year thousands of Americans, Australians, Brits and Canadians travel for a dental treatment abroad. Some popular destinations include Mexico, Thailand, Costa Rica and most recently, Central Europe. The reasons patients travel abroad for dental treatments vary, but usually, the driving factors include price and time. Even including the price of travel and accommodation, patients save on average 50-75%.
In order to better understand the why’s, how’s and possibilities of dental travel, here are 3 common scenarios that explain the advantages of having your next dental treatment abroad.
1. One-Day Dentistry (2 Day Visit)
Thanks to CEREC technology, patients can have a new smile in 24 hours. By using a 3D camera and special software, the dentist can create, polish and fit new crowns, veneers, onlays, inlays or bridges during a single visit. This is perfect for having a dental treatment abroad.If you’re traveling from the UK, a flight to central Europe only takes less than 2 hours and is often less than £35.Patients who choose CEREC are often able to save the most, and stay a maximum of 1-2 nights.
2. Short-Gap (5-7 Day Visit)
For patients traveling further distances (United States, Canada), an ideal trip will last 5-7 days. Popular treatments include veneers and crowns and the procedure is split into two visits.
Day 1: Arrive, Consultation & Impressions, Temporary Crowns/Veneers (Visit #1)
Day 3: Diagnostic Dental Wax-Up (Smile Preview, optional during Visit #1)
Day 5-7: New Veneers/Crowns Fitted, Depart (Visit #2)
Another reason people are choosing dental treatment abroad is to travel– duh! Instead of spending thousands more to stay home and visit their local dentists, patients are combining low-cost dental treatment and their vacation. For instance, from Prague, Czech Republic (Central Europe) it takes only a few hours to travel by train or bus to Vienna, Budapest, Berlin and Munich. Because dental work generally requires little to no recovery time, patients are free to travel and take advantage of new sites and culture.
This was the case for Salutara patients, Paul Cogan, professional baseball scout with the LA Dodgers, and his wife Carol. In 2016, they couple traveled to Prague, the Czech Republic for dental work. After years of what Paul considered “band-aid fixes”, he and his wife of 31-years, and parents of three decided it was time to finally put an end to Paul’s dental fiasco and explore Europe in the meantime.
For the cost of the treatment (4 porcelain crowns + examination, OPG photo, Anesthesia- $2,000/approx. $438 per crown)
Four nights in Prague ($200)
A train ticket ($37) and one night in Vienna ($55)
Two nights in London ($130)
2 round-trip flight tickets ($1,479)
Price of food + other expenses (approx. $500)
All in all, the Cogan’s spent roughly $4,400 (USD). Compare this to the average cost of dental treatment near San Francisco, California,which can be as high as $1,800 per porcelain crown (*often excluding the price of examination, OPG photo, Anesthesia), andtheir total savings stretched well over two thousand dollars.
“Coming to Prague for Paul’s treatment was out first time in Europe. We wanted to make this trip more than just dental work, so we planned for a lot of sightseeing in between visits to the clinic,” Carol added in an interview with Salutara.“We toured Prague Castle, the Jewish Cemetery, Wenceslaus Square, Prague Zoo and took a train trip to Vienna. Prague is a very friendly, affordable city, and easy to get around on foot or by public transport.”
3. Longer-Gap (3 months)
Often times, patients experience more serious dental issues (i.e. dental implants, missing bone, etc.). As a result, two trips may be necessary. While this may seem like a more pricey option, extensive dental work in the United States and the UK tends to cost a small fortune. It is often uninsured as well.
Day 1: Arrive, Implant Consultation & 3D Scans
Day: 2-3: Make Implants, Depart
Trip #2: 3 Months Later
Day 1: Arrive, Crown Consultation
Day 2: Implantation (Stay 1-2 nights)
Day 3 or 4: Depart
After returning home, a local dentist can remove their sutures during a follow-up appointment For patients making two trips, it is a popular opinion to extend the first visit and soak up their surroundings much like Paul and Carol.
Paul Cogan, long-time professional baseball scout for the LA Dodgers, is no stranger when it comes to finding the best. The father of 4, and husband of 31 years, travels the United States each year searching for the most talented, up-and-coming players to recruit. However, despite victories on and off the field, Paul’s dental success was striking out big time. That is until after years of quick fixes, and “bandaid” procedures, he decided to look abroad for dental crowns.
Recently, Salutara had the opportunity to sit down with Paul, and his wife Carol, to discuss their trip to Prague, the Czech Republic, and why they traveled half-way around the world for help.
From California to Europe
Salutara: Explain your decision to travel abroad for dental crowns. Had you ever traveled abroad for a medical procedure before?
Paul:Never! Up until now all my dental work has been done in the U.S.. But I have several friends who have sought medical advice abroad-mostly Asia- and they felt very comfortable with their experience. So that’s how the seed got planted. When I knew I needed crowns, I started looked into Asia and Latin America, India and Europe. From the beginning, I had a certain fondness and trust in Europe over anywhere elsewhere- but that’s just me.
Paul and his dentist post dental crown procedure at Mediestetik clinic, Prague
How important was price when making your decision? Where there any other factors?
Well, price was a factor but certainly not THE factor. I needed the comfort factor first and foremost- then price. The difference between most countries was nominal as far as cost. For me, it was Prague and Salutara that stood out from the rest and helped me to make my decision.
Working With Salutara
How about the support from Salutara when you arrived in Prague?
I almost felt like a celebrity- it was amazing. My wife and I were met at the airport by Petr and Martin (Salutara Co-Founders) and immediately felt a connection and level of trust. The whole Salutara staff was outstanding.
Carol: I have to agree. Not only did Petr and Martin met us at the airport, but they took us to our first appointment and met us at our last. They also visited with me while my husband was in the dental chair and gave me tips on where to eat and what to see in Prague. We were extremely satisfied!
Did you get to do any additional traveling or sightseeing during your trip?
Carol: Yes of course. We toured Prague Castle, the Jewish Cemetery, Wenceslaus Square, Prague Zoo and took a train trip to Vienna. Prague is a very friendly, affordable city, and easy to get around on foot or by public transport. We made the most of our time!
Paul Cogan (left) with his wife, Carol, and Salutara Co-founder, Petr Vankat, at the Marriott Hotel, Prague
And what was your experience like working with Salutara to facilitate your procedure? Did you feel like you were cared for and in good hands?
Yes I did. Salutara was professional and caring. I felt that was cared for and in good hands throughout the entire procedure. Their expertise and professionalism was evident from the very first communication via email, to the moment they said goodbye as our taxi to the airport arrived.
What questions or concerns did you have for your dentist at Mediestetik during your consultation? Were you satisfied with the clinic?
Very satisfied! Going into the consultation I basically knew what to expect, but was advised which crowns and techniques would be best. The communication was easy and the language barrier was not a problem- I mention this because I know this is a worry of many patients who travel abroad for a procedure. The dentist anticipated my needs and was quick and efficient.
Carol:I’d also like to add that the staff was extremely professional and that the facility and equipment were state of the art. We couldn’t have been more impressed!
How long did the entire procedure take? Was it painful?
For all my crowns, I spent a total of 4 hours in the dentist chair, 2 hours in preparation to create a mold and a final 2 hours to install. I didn’t need any Novocain and they were very sensitive to ensure my comfort. There was no pain at all.
The Final Score
Prague, capital of the Czech Republic, is quickly becoming Europe’s hottest spot for dental care.
For other people thinking about dentistry abroad, would you recommend working with Salutara and coming to the Czech Republic?
I already have and will continue to do so. People think there is a big risk involved when traveling abroad for medical care, but I give them full assurance there isn’t. Never before have I had such a pleasant dentist office experience until this.
Carol: Do not hesitate working with Salutara or Mediestetik! We plan on returning for more dental work in the future.
And most importantly, how are you enjoying your new dental crowns?
Like a kid! For the first time in ages I don’t mind smiling wider and can finally eat properly now. They feel fantastic!
Quality, affordable healthcare is on the forefront of minds around the world. Out-of-pocket medical costs for critical and elective procedures continue to skyrocket, and nations offering universal care are struggling to keep up with the demand. As a result, millions of patients are crossing borders each year in order to access better healthcare options, save money, and cut down on increasingly long wait times. According to Patients Beyond Borders, the worldwide medical tourism market is estimated to be growing at a rate of 15-25%.
In a recent interview with Martin Cvetler and Petr Vankat, co-founders of Salutara, they discuss how Salutara.com is helping patients navigate the new world of medical travel, and how they plan to revolutionize the medical tourism industry.
Q: Hi Petr and Martin! Tell us a little bit about Salutara. Where did the inspiration to start an online medical travel platform come from?
Petr:Some people believe that traveling is the best way to enrich your life, and I completely agree. Several years ago I was visiting a friend in Switzerland, and came across a local travel agent who was providing citizens of the beautiful Swiss town, Thun, a chance to take advantage of high quality yet significantly lower priced Hungarian dentistry. It stroke me as a brilliant idea! I started imagining how great it would be to give people the means to find the perfect treatment, clinic and doctor, anywhere in the world.
A friendly, coherent online platform seemed like the easiest way to provide simple communication and allow patients to book their procedures directly. My mother is also an eye surgeon, so and I grew up around doctors. It only made sense.
Martin: There were other online platforms out there at the time we started building Salutara.com, but none that provided users with full, end-to-end service. Our idea wasn’t to be the same, and it still isn’t. We’ve created Salutara.com to be something like the Booking.com of medical treatments, although finding a clinic and booking a medical treatment is certainly not the same as booking a hotel room. When you’re working with patients from all over the world, with real medical concerns, building trust is the main concern.
Co-Founder, Petr Vankat and Salutara dental client, Ingrid, USA, sightseeing in Prague before her procedure.
Q: What are some of the main advantages of traveling abroad for medical treatments?
Martin: There are plenty of advantages of traveling abroad for a medical treatment. Shorter wait times, better quality, and lower prices to name a few. Patients generally want top quality for a reasonable and affordable price. Today, prices can vary 2-3 fold depending on the country. Recently, a client traveled from the USA for 5 days of extensive dental treatment. In total, she spent 8,800 USD. Back home in the USA, the same procedure would easily cost 3 times more.
Price aside, she was also extremely happy with the quality of the clinic in the Czech Republic. Based on her experience, she felt that it was better equipped than some US clinics.
Q: What is the most frequent question (or concern) patients have before traveling abroad for a medical procedure?
Petr: Price, quality and language spoken- in this order. As Martin mentioned, most people ask for good quality for an affordable price, however, some prefer quality regardless of price. And as far as languages, we direct our customers to clinics and doctors equipped with particular language skills. In the near future we’ll be launching a concierge service including interpretation on site.
Martin: We also provide every client with multiple price quotes from different clinics so they can compare and get a good feel for the price level. Our goal is to provide clients with standardized quotes that are easy to understand and compare. Simplicity is key. Our clients have busy lives and we value their time.
Q: Let’s talk about Salutara.com. What features and capabilities does your full-service, online platform provide?
Martin:The ultimate solution is a user friendly platform that connects clients with clinics for unlimited online consultations, price quotes, date booking, trip planning (when going abroad), including the transportation and accommodation. At the same time, every client has a dedicated Salutara coordinator that helps with questions before and during the trip, and helps clients make the right, and best decision for them.
Petr: Adding to what Martin said, it is also a matter of common sense. We want to solve the annoying problems people face when doing it themselves? For instance, having to approach clinics with different price lists, exchanging lengthy, exhausting e-mail back and forth (often hard to keep track of), discussing different availabilities, language skills, and of course, finding credible patient reviews. This is what we are currently solving and working on.
Q: How do you support the patients before, during and after their medical travel?
Martin: As I said before, we do and provide everything that helps to make the right decision about the clinic. Once the date of a treatment is reserved, we help each client organize everything else, including the airport transfers, accommodation and anything else they might need at the destination. Once they arrive, we make sure they are at all of their appointments on time, arrange any necessary transportation, and accompany them to the clinic if they wish.
Petr: In addition, as well as you might appreciate to be asked how everything was before leaving a restaurant, we do the same before our clients leave the country of treatment and when they arrive home. Feedback is crucial for further improvement and it also gives Salutara’s customers a chance to share a few happy “after” pictures with us, which so far they’ve loved doing.
Q: What responsibilities do you have as one of the world’s leading medical travel platforms?
Petr:It’s a good question. We are responsible for providing a variety of transparent options for customers to choose from. All data needs to be accurate and quick response times are critical for urgent treatments . This is especially true for IVF, when every seconds counts.
Martin:As Petr said, accurate and extensive information is 100% necessary, and we do not believe in cutting corners. Speedy and relevant responses are also important, as well as honesty, trust and care.
Online medical travel platform, Salutara, co-founders, Martin (right) and Petr (left)
Q: How do you ensure the safest and most comfortable experience for your patients?
Petr:Clients have the option to ask for our Salutara welcome package. Thisincludes having a personal assistant that picks them up at the airport, takes them to their hotel, and introduces them at clinic. It’s also totally natural to feel stressed before a surgery in a strange country. We understand that. Therefore, they appreciate having someone there, on the spot, ready to help provide comfort, courage and resolve any potential hick ups.
*Bringing patients a complimentary McFlurry or pumpkin spiced latte when there’s a sudden craving is just a bonus (smile).
Q: Your partnerships with clinics and physicians are a key factor in the patient’s success. How do you decide which partners meet your standards in order to provide highest level of service?
Petr: All of the clinics we work with are accredited, certified and members of various worldwide association.We do extensive research on each clinic beforehand recommending them to client. It’s also important to keep in mind that themedical field is very well connected, and the clinics we work with often recommend one another. For example, a dental clinic may recommend a plastic surgery clinic for cooperation. It is then our job to verify any personal bias- positive or negative. Also, you can tell a lot about a clinic from its management, staff and by looking into previous customers’ reviews. We take all customer feedback into consideration.
Q: Where do you see Salutara in the next few years? Which *new* treatments will you be offering?
Petr: Our goal to continually improve and provide more of what our clients want and need. In regards to treatments, there is a high demand on the market for laser eye surgeries – those are going to be next. Also dermatological procedures and so called mummy makeovers are to be added and later even more sophisticated treatments like knee or hip replacements and even proton cancer therapy.
Geographically, Salutara will expand its clinic offers to other countries such as Hungary, Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand or Costa Rica and Mexico.
Q: Medical tourism is a booming industry, and shows no sign of slowing down. How does Salutara set itself apart from other medical travel agencies?
Martin:Well, in a way Salutara already has. A majority of agencies offer a limited scope of services focusing on a specific local market. For example, only bringing German customers to Hungary for dental treatments only. Salutara does not intend to be just ‘another agency’, per say, but the website/App which comes to mind every time you need a medical treatment. Salutara is transparent, easy to use, and an end-to-end service. Our goal is to facilitate direct communication with clinics/doctors, personal assistance and create a stress free process.
Each year, over 40 million cosmetic surgeries are performed around the world. Of these 40 million, 1.4 million are breast augmentations; the most popular cosmetic surgery among women. Most elective cosmetic surgery is not covered by health insurance, and as the price of health care skyrockets, more patients are choosing to have their medical treatments and surgeries abroad- over 11 million to be exact.
Today you will meet Candida, a Brazilian native and mother of a young daughter, as she talks about her decision to get breast augmentation abroad. Like other medical travelers, Candida’s story begins with a challenge and ends with a solution that provides the best, quickest and most affordable results.
Q: What factors influenced your decision to get breast augmentation?
Well, I’ve always had small breast- which I actually liked. I never thought about getting breast augmentation until after having my first child and starting to breastfeed. It’s amazing what a woman’s body experiences after childbirth, and it is not uncommon for the breasts to change size and shape after breastfeeding. Some get larger, some return to their pre-pregnancy size, but for me, mine got even smaller.
Breastfeeding for several years, along with post-baby dieting and exercise had a significant influence on their size. For the first time in my life I wanted larger breasts- similar to the size before having children. I had never had cosmetic surgery before, so it was not a decision to take lightly. If I was going to do this, I wanted the best surgeons and the highest quality. I am also a full-time chef, so between being a mother and my busy work schedule, I needed a solution that was simple.
Q: What made you choose to go abroad for your breast augmentation?
Originally I was going to go to Brazil, my home country, for the procedure. However, I live and work in Vienna, so traveling that far was going to be time consuming and pricey. That’s when a friend of mine introduced me to the full-service, online medical platform, Salutara. At the time I was aware of people traveling abroad for cosmetic surgery, but I never knew their were end-to-end services to assist you in the process. Salutara was an excellent resource to compare cosmetic surgery clinics based on price, accreditation, patient reviews and quality. They made the decision-making process quick, and simple, and saved me valuable time by alleviating the headache of doing research on my own.
Candida Before Breast Augmentation, Brandeis Clinic
Candida After Breast Augmentation, Brandeis Clinic
Q: Why did you choose to have your breast augmentation in Prague?
I had previously lived in Prague for 3 years, so I already knew it’s excellent reputation for cosmetic surgery. It is also a four and a half hour train ride from Vienna, so logistically it made sense. Salutara is partners with the Brandeis Clinic in Prague, and immediately put me in direct contact with my surgeon and the clinic staff. No surgery is without risk, and fears are normal, especially when you’re going into the surgery voluntarily. Speaking to my surgeon allowed me to have all of my questions and concerns addressed before the trip. We also discussed in length the type of implant I would get- anatomical (natural) or round- and if they would be subpectoral (under the muscle) or prepectoral (over the muscle). We agreed on Motiva, a round implant under the muscle.
Q:Was cost the most important factor?
I don’t think you can put a price on your health. If a safe surgery and better results meant spending more money, then I would do it. Sure, savings are attractive, especially when they can exceed 80%, but quality always takes precedence. Fortunately the Brandeis Clinic in Prague offers top-notch quality and state-of-the-art technology, so I did not have to sacrifice anything. The quality offered in Prague exceeded that in Vienna, so my decision to travel was easy. The significant difference in price was just icing on the cake.
Q: What were your first thoughts upon arriving at your clinic in Prague?
Throughout the entire process, my communication with Salutara and my clinic was quick and efficient. I was provided with all of the information about the surgery and exams before leaving Vienna. When I arrived in Prague, a member of Salutara was there to greet me and take me to my hotel, despite being very late in the evening. The next morning I went to the Brandeis Clinic where I met my surgeon, anesthetist, and the staff. As for the atmosphere, it was a beautiful building with modern installations, and located in the center of Prague. From my window I had lovely views that overlooked the cobblestone streets and century-old architecture.
Q: How prepared did you feel before the surgery?
I felt very confident and assured. The clinic was fully equipped, and my surgeon and anesthetist walked me through every detail. I was in good hands. There were absolutely no problems with communication either- which I know is a concern for some medical travelers. They offered english or german and the surgeons and nurses were really nice about providing me details about the whole surgery, care and after care. Breast augmentation requires full-anesthesia and the procedure took a little under two hours. Before I knew it I was waking up in recovery.
Brandeis Clinic is located in the historical center of the Czech Republic’s capital city, Prague
Q: It has been several weeks since your surgery, how do you feel about the results?
Well, I am still healing and the implants are settling. Surgery recovery is about 2 weeks and full recovery can take up to two months. But, so far I am extremely happy. My breasts look excellent and I am thrilled with the results. I keep asking myself why I didn’t get the surgery done sooner- but better late than never! My surgeon did beautiful work and I highly recommend Prague and the Brandeis Clinic to anyone else considering cosmetic surgery or medical travel. In fact, I am so pleased I have already recommended my surgeon to several of my friends who are now interested in breast augmentation themselves.
Q: What advice would you give to other medical travelers, or those considering it for the first time?
I highly recommend you don’t go it alone. Using a full-service medical platform like Salutara, saves you time, stress and a lot of headaches. And as I mentioned before, savings are great, but they should be a bonus to exceptional quality.
Second, ask questions! As many as you can think of. This is when being in direct contact with your surgeon is crucial, another benefit of using a medical platform. Cosmetic surgery is not something to take lightly, and important health questions (specific to you) need professional answers. Finally, if your schedule and allows it, take advantage of the city you’re traveling to. For instance, in Prague I recommend you take at least one day before your surgery to be a tourist and enjoy the most beautiful city in Europe. I also recommend spending a full 2-3 days (depending on your surgery) post-surgery to recover. This will make the trip home more comfortable.
Patients from the US, UK and Western Europe are packing their bags and heading to Central Europe for cheap, quick and quality dental work.
Creating The Perfect Smile
Cosmetic dentistry has quickly become the fastest growing field in the dental industry, as well as the medical tourism market. In the past, dentistry has largely focused on prevention and restorative problem-solving, and while it still does, the advent of cosmetic dentistry has provided additional elective treatments to the everyday patient in search of the healthiest and most beautiful smile -the perfect smile.
There is no shortage of treatments to select from. Patients are opting for everything from teeth whitening procedures to composite bonding, porcelain and composite veneers, crowns, bridgework, dental implants, inlays and onlays. For a complete list of treatments, visit our full cosmetic dentistry treatment guide.
While cosmetic dentistry is on the raise, prices are still considerably high in the US, UK and parts of Western Europe. UK prices for private dentistry are notoriously steep, and finding a practice that accepts NHS can be time consuming and nearly impossible in some cases. Even with coverage, patients are often hit with hefty additional charges, making it more than the cost for a similar treatment abroad. In the US, only the most basic dental care is covered by health insurance plans, leaving more than 150 million Americans without dental coverage.
Putting Central Europe On The Map
In recent years, Central European countries have capitalized on cosmetic dentistry, catering to the medical tourism population. Global leaders, including the Czech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria and Poland have made considerable investments in ultra-modern, state-of-the art clinics, especially in their capital cities, to attract patients. As a result, this has created a highly competitive industry, ensuring that top-notch service and the latest technology and equipment are of the foremost priority. Many dentists are also trained internationally and a proficient level of english is absolutely necessary for both dentists and their staff.
To no surprise, medical tourists are flocking to these countries by the thousands, taking advantage of the high standards of quality, convenient, low cost flights, great value and opportunity to visit one of Europe’s most adored cities.
Savings Worth Travelling For
Patients are saving anywhere between 50% to upwards of 75% by packing their bags and travelling to Central Europe. In Hungary, which boasts more dentists per capita than any other country, patients may only pay £329/£379/ $429 for a single crown. In the UK, this could cost closer to £800/ €922 /$1045.
Similarly, and the shortest flight from the UK (1 hour and 45 minutes), lies the Czech Republic- the literal heart of Europe, and epicenter of cosmetic dentistry. It’s capital city, Prague, bursts at the seams with history and culture as well as cosmetic clinics. For patients seeking porcelain or composite veneers, prices may be as low as £247/€297/$322.
Uk prices average north of £600/€692/$783. Cost of flight and two nights accommodation in Prague’s city centre totals less than £200/€230/$261 and wait times are typically low- some less than a week. The Czech Republic is also held to some of the most rigorous health regulations and accreditation requirements in Europe.
Leave Relaxed- And With A New Smile
Into the bargain, Central Europe is home many of Europe’s most beautiful cities, Prague and others, ranking among the world’s TOP 50 cities on the Numbeo’s quality of life index. This list is largely influenced bythe quality andaffordability of healthcare, as well as safety and cost of living.
Cosmetic dentistry, like medical tourism, has emerged and grown out of demand and necessity. Patients are finally looking outside of the box (and away from their local providers), and finding affordable, quality answers in Central Europe. Not only will your wallet be satisfied, but dental travel fulfills the dream of a perfect smile, while giving each patient some well deserved R&R and the remarkable opportunity to explore a new city and country.
We never thought it would happen to us. Infertility was “other couple’s problem”-not ours. John and I were in our early thirties, fit, active with absolutely no health problems. We were career driven and had spent the better part of our twenties working hard to achieve some kind of financial security in order to start a family. Yet, after nearly a year and a half of trying to conceive, we had nothing to show besides our sheer disappointment.
Dreams Of Starting A Family
Growing up in a family of five children, I had always pictured myself as the modern day mum with a gaggle of screaming child running around the house, food and paint splattered on the walls and ceiling. John (35) and I (34) met in law school and one of the things that helped solidify our relationship, and later our marriage, was the shared dream of having a big family. John, like myself, came from a large family (the oldest of four boys) and becoming a father had always felt like part of his destiny. We were used to working hard at school and in our firms, but starting a family had always seemed like something that would come easy, and naturally when the time was right. Neither of us could have imagined that infertility would soon become one of the most challenging, exhausting, yet rewarding journeys of our life.
Our infertility journey began in Cardiff, Wales, were John and I lived and worked at the time. We first visited our general practitioner and he recommended we visit a fertility specialist in town and begin discussing our options. John and I knew from the start that we might not be able to rely upon our national healthcare system, NHS, to help fund our treatment. One year prior, friends of ours (both 34 at the time) were approved for IVF treatment under NHS, but were only covered for two full cycles and placed on an 8 month waiting list due to a lack of approved Welsh clinics. Even for women under the age of 35, it may take up to 3-4, sometimes 5-6 full cycles of IVF until successful.After two unsuccessful cycles they ended up seeking treatment from a private clinic in London, where each round cost north of £6,000, and this did not include the initial consultation, necessary STD testing or hormone stimulation medication.
The NHS state that around 32.2% of IVF treatments for women aged 35 or under result in live births, this percentage declines with the age of the woman being treated, by the time a woman is 44 there is just a 1.9% chance of success.
Eventually John and I were approved under NHS and put on a 6 month waiting list. In the meantime, I joined numerous online forums, investigated clinics, and read every infertility book I could get my hands on. It was amazing how quickly my life became consumed with the topic of infertility. John used to tease me about the ridiculous amount of knowledge I had about IVF, even before our first treatment, but I think we both knew my information obsession was a distraction from my fear of maybe never becoming a mother.
We we finally began our first treatment cycle at a clinic in Wales where our physician explained that the case of our infertility was due to contributing factors- from both John and myself. For women, with each passing year of ovulation the number and quality of available eggs diminish. By age 30, the chances of having a baby begins to decrease by 3-5% each year. After age 40, fertility reduces to an even greater extent. After a semen analysis, it was also revealed that John had a below average sperm count- likely due to environmental factors such as “gender-bending”chemicals and or other lifestyle influences.
We proceeded with the first cycle, and our physician was able to extract several healthy embryo to be fertilized and transferred. At the time, and according to other IVF patients I’d spoken with, it’s common to go into your first cycle with an “all-or-nothing” mentality. Any fertility specialist worth their salt will tell you that 3 or more full IVF cycles may be required before becoming pregnant, but this is easy to forget when you’re in the physical, emotional midst of it all.
When the cycle was complete, John and I waited the necessary two weeks before taking an at home pregnancy test. The results? Negative.
If At First You Don’t Succeed
I was crushed, but John encouraged me to stay positive and that we’d keep trying. Typically after the first cycle it is possible to begin a second cycle after one or two complete menstrual cycles, however, with the long wait times we knew that time was not in our favor be staying in the UK. That is when I hopped back on the web and started to do some research. It was time for a new plan.
Within days I had posted on every IVF discussion board I could find, joined online support groups and exchanged dozens of emails with other patients in search of a better solution. To my surprise, an overwhelming majority recommended I look at clinics abroad. I was not convinced. Surely people were going abroad for lower prices, but didn’t this mean quality would suffer? Luckily many other former patients (many of which are now happy parents) had this same concern in the beginning. A woman named Ava from Germany, who became an IVF pen pal of sorts, wrote me the following:
“Don’t feel alone Marie, my husband and I had the same worries about quality and the state of the clinics abroad. We needed something affordable, but also with high standards and success rates. To help ensure that we find a trustworthy clinic we began working with a medical travel facilitator. This changed everything. We were able to compare quotes, explore each clinic and their accreditations, speak with our physician directly and in addition, all of our travel and accommodation was arranged for us. It helped eliminate a lot of stress during the process and we finally felt like we had someone on our side.”
Still hesitant, I didn’t see the harm in reaching out to a medical travel facilitator myself. It didn’t take long until I started to see why Ava was so keen on her discovery. I was immediately provided with quotes, clinic profiles, step-by-step treatment guides, booking dates and travel options. It was full-service, and exactly what any (already stressed and mentally drained) IVF couple could ask for. John was on board and in 3 weeks we were on our first trip to Prague, Czech Republic.
Setting Our Sights Abroad
As soon as we arrived we were greeted at the airport by our medical travel representative. After being escorted to our hotel to check in, John and I had our initial consultation at a state-of-the-art clinic, lasting about 90 minutes. Before leaving Wales, we’d been prepped on what medical documents to bring from our previous IVF treatment, so everything was prepared. Our physician discussed the treatment plan with us in detail, completed the standard testing and administered my hormone stimulating medication. At this time some couples chose to travel home and divide their treatment into two trips, but after the strain John and I’s relationship had been under the past few months, and with the help of our full-service facilitator, we decided to turn this IVF cycle into a mini-holiday.
For about 6 days we enjoyed Prague’s stunning views, cobblestone streets and old world charm, relaxing in our hotel and finally spending some quality time together that didn’t involve appointments and clinic waiting rooms. During this time one ultrasound was performed to monitor the stimulation and assess the outcome.
After 7 days John and I returned to the clinic for the second phase. Once again, this included an embryo retrieval, sperm collections, fertilization period and embryo transfer. Our physician and I agreed to transfer two embryo- a standard number to increase success rates. An hour after the procedure, John and I were free to go. In all, our full-cycle (testing and medication included) cost £1944. With flights and accommodation included our total trip came to about £2900, still £3100 less than our friends in the UK.
Two weeks after arriving home, John and I finally prepared ourselves for the second pregnancy test. The results: Positive! We were overwhelmed with joy. All the stress of the past two and a half years faded away in an instant and just three months ago we welcomed a beautiful baby girl into the world, Jenny.
Since IVF our lives have changed (for the better), and I’ve had a lot of people tell me how “brave” and “strong” John and I are for enduring the IVF process- but I think it’s more than that. IVF isn’t about bravery or strength, but instead at the core, about the unwavering desire to start a family, and the lengths you will go to make your dreams of parenthood a reality. It is a difficult process to undergo as a couple, both physically and emotionally, and we are eternally grateful for our families, the skills and knowledge of our talented physician, the clinic staff for making us comfortable. And above all, we are appreciative for the assistance and excellent service of our medical travel facilitator. Without their help and organization and we would have never connected the dots and made our trip, treatment, and new family possible.
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Do you know who invented the first soft contact lenses?
How about the surgeon who completed the first full face transplant in 2011? Or the Nobel Prize nominated scientist who pioneered antiviral drugs crucial to the fight against HIV? Thanks to a small country in the heart of Europe, all of these scientific discoveries and technological advances have been made possible.
Medical Tourism: The Czech Republic
What it lacks in size, the Czech Republic surely makes up in innovation, coining the old Czech proverb “Zlaté české ručičky a chytré české hlavičky” or“golden Czech hands and clever Czech heads.”
In keeping with tradition, the Czech Republic, an EU member since 2004, has recently become one of the most sought after destinations for medical tourism. Its capital city, Prague, often referred to as the “Jewel in the Crown” of Europe, or “The City of a Hundred Spires”, is one of the most popular tourist destinations around the world, enchanting more than 7 million visitors each year. Now, the vibrant and historical Czech capital is attracting more than just its usual beer and culture seeking crowds, but also thousands of medical travelers in need of everything ranging from cosmetic dentistry, breast augmentation and liposuction to “tummy tucks”, LASIK eye surgery and IVF. Other notable cities in the Czech Republic include Brno, Ostrava, and Pilsen.
Only a two-hour plane ride from London, its close proximity to the UK and Western Europe has made the Czech Republic the ideal location for those seeking medical procedures abroad. Along with its convenience, the Czech Republic maintains the highest standards of professionalism and top-notch quality, and considerably low prices when compared to other countries.
According to Iveta Jabouková of the Czech Tourism board, nearly 3 million CZK(£94,290/€109,978) has been dedicated to boosting the Czech Republic’s medical tourism profile this year alone.
Why Are People Choosing Medical Tourism?
This year, an estimated 11 million patients will hop on a plane, train or drive across borders for a medical treatment. Recently, Western Europe and the UK have felt the impact of major public sector cuts, resulting in a decrease in the quality of medical care in countries such as Germany, France, and Great Britain. Less spending on public healthcare has resulted in longer wait lines and understaffed hospitals and clinics.
Recent stats show that the average wait time for an approved treatment in the UK is more than 18 weeks- the worst it’s been in 7 years. The UK’s National Health Service (NHS), covers routine screenings, treatment for the long-term condition and end-of-life care, but often excludes prescription costs, optical and dental services, and infertility treatments such as IVF. Unapproved patients are forced to seek out expensive private practices, which are often unaffordable.
Fed up with long waiting lists, uninsured procedures, and hefty prices, an increasing number of people are looking overseas for medical care. When the quality of care, wait time and cost are considered, it makes a lot of sense. Financial savings from medical tourism can be significant. For instance, a silicon breast augmentation in the UK costs £3,400-£5,000 (€3,965-€5831). In the Czech Republic, an all-inclusive surgery will cost you £2,600 (€3,032) including travel, accommodation, and insurance.
Similarly, dental veneers in the UK or United States can cost anywhere between £400-1000 (€466-€1,166) per tooth, depending on the material used.In the Czech Republic, costs may be as low as £290 (€338) per tooth including the preparation, local anesthesia, and patient care. On average, medical tourism can save patients anywhere from 30-80% and keep wait times as short as one week.
What To Expect in the Czech Republic
While cheaper prices are attractive, the superior quality of care is what sets the Czech Republic apart. Its medical industry is highly regulated and there are strict state regulations and accreditation requirements for all healthcare facilities, both state-operated and private. Accredited organizations such as ISO and JCI ensure that patients receive world-class treatment. Many private clinics provide ultra modern facilities. This ensures that each client has a luxurious place to stay during their treatment and recovery, as well as round-the-clock care.
And if you think to become a medical professional in the Czech Republic was a park in the walk- think again. First, medical students must graduate from their accredited universities after a minimum of six years. Next, they must pass a series of first level exams followed by a two years residency with an experienced practitioner. For instance, a plastic surgeon must spend two years in general surgery and four years studying plastic surgery theory and gaining practical practice in a state-certified clinic before ever having the opportunity to operate themselves.
Over the past 2 decades more and more western-style, privately owned clinics have opened throughout the country.Quite often they are run by Western-trained doctors. English literacy is high, especially in Prague, and with cultural differences at a minimum, it is perfect for seasoned or first-time medical traveler.
All in all, the Czech Republic is the perfect place to relax and recoup after a procedure. It is also ideal for a pre or post-op sightseeing holiday and soaking in everything the city has to offer- a much-needed break from the daily grind. You gain quality of care and keep money in your wallet, all the while having an opportunity to experience one of Europe’s finest cities.
Even a brute like me needs help sometimes, and cosmetic dental surgery changed my life. I know- not the first thing you’d expect to hear from a member of the Greene King IPA Championship. And I’ll admit, it would be much easier for me to talk about rugby or relive last years semi-final game against Bristol, but that is for another time.
My journey to cosmetic dentistry started long, long ago, when I was just a lad. My two brothers and I always used to fool around, beating up on each other in the yard, driving my poor mother mad. By the time we reached year five each of us had broken an arm or leg, or chipped a tooth or two-or three. I grew up in a working class town in the West Midlands, so trips to the dentist were few and far between. Regular cleanings and braces, let alone cosmetic dentistry were far beyond our means. Unfortunate for mum and dad, the injuries only increased after we all started playing rugby. Had they known then I’d make a career out of it, I think they would have ran for the hills.
As a forward I have received my fair of bumps and bruises over the years. From dislocated shoulders and fingers, to bum knees and concussions, I’ve pretty must run the gauntlet. And while these all healed, thanks to our team trainers and therapist, my chipped and broken teeth did not. As I am sure you can imagine, quite a few more teeth have been knocked around since my childhood. Even with a mouthguard it is hard to avoid all damage. On the field I didn’t think twice about my gnarly grin, but off the field- it was a nightmare. Even nights at the pub I could feel myself losing face anytime a pretty young lady said hello. Not to mention, years of poor dental hygiene had left my teeth discolored are far from the pearly whites most women dream of. I was a grown man and I had to do something to fix this. Immediately.
Finding a cosmetic dentistry clinic
Swallowing my pride I approached one of my trainers an afternoon after practice and asked for some advice. I felt her eyes go straight to my broken smile. “Have you ever considered cosmetic dentistry. You know, veneers?”
Of course I had considered it, but that was all I had done. I had absolutely no information and didn’t even know what kind of treatment I needed. From the little research I had done, there seemed to be an overwhelming amount of options and I was not tech savvy enough to start some internet witch-hunt for answers. That sounded like a major headache and I didn’t have time. Instead I decided to take a recommendation from my trainer and visit a clinic in Liverpool. Blinding walking into the clinic I was given a warmish welcome and immediately asked to take a seat in the waiting room. Nearly thirty-five minutes later a dental assistant lead me to a consultation room. There I waited another twenty-five minutes until my surgeon casually arrived and greeted me. About time. Ten minutes later I was walking out of the front door.
The surgeon recommended that I have six of my top front teeth covered fitted with ceramic veneers. Estimated price? £450 per tooth. I’ll do the math for you-that’s £2,700. Not only that, but to create the molds and fit the veneers it would take between 2-3 weeks. For that money I’d expect the veneers magically appear. I don’t know any Brit who’d pay the money.
Next stop-London. I had a feeling the price would not be much better but there were significantly more clinics to choose from, and some that offered CEREC® Veneers. I learned about CEREC® from my trainer, (short for CEramic REConstructions), the most advanced technology for robotic dentistry which allowed dentists to create the perfect set of veneers in one short session. This sounded too good to be true. When I arrived at the consultation I was greeted by the dentist in the first five minutes. Good sign. I followed him to the examining room where we chatted about the rugby season and weather. Another good sign. He checked out my teeth and said it would be an easy quick fix. Yet again. And then he mentioned the price- £825 per tooth. Thats £4,950 for a surgery he promised would take less than two hours.Not a chance.
After trying several more clinics in the London area, to no avail, I decided to direct my focus elsewhere. It was not uncommon among professional athletes to leave the UK for treatment. Throughout the years I had several teammates travel to France or other European countries for major surgery, all of which returned safe and sound. I started to wonder if cosmetic dentistry abroad was a possibility as well? I then did what all intelligent men of the 21st century do- I Googled Best Veneers Abroad.
To my luck and surprise, when I searched for Best Veneers Abroad, the results were endless. Heaps of clinics seemed to be looking for patients just like myself. I narrowed my search to cosmetic dentistry clinics in Europe and began comparing prices. It was madness. I spent the next three weeks individually comparing clinics, dentists, treatments and prices- which were often not listed. I made dozens of phone calls and sent dozens of emails before deciding that there must be a better way to do this.
That is when I found it. An end-to-end, full service platformthat allowed me to instantly compare clinics on multiple levels. It listed everything from prices, clinic technology and equipment to each dentists individual profile and languages spoken, all completely transparent and accessible. I found a clinic in Prague, Czech Republic, and was immediately able to contact the dentist directly. It was reassuring to have all of my questions and concerned answered by the professional who would be performing the procedure. The platform also assisted in arranging flights, accommodation and transportation, all while acting as s personal advocate throughout the trip. Brilliant.
My Journey to Prague
Shortly after speaking with my dentist, I had a round trip ticket booked for Prague. Thanks to the CEREC® technology I would be flying out of London on a Tuesday, getting my scan (digital molds) and veneers the same day, and returning on Wednesday. I did not have to miss a single training or practice. When I arrived after my short two hour flight, I was greeted at the airport and taken to my hotel in the heart of Prague. In awe of the city’s beauty and culture I started to think I should have made this visit a proper holiday. When I arrived at the clinic my dentist, who I had spoken with prior to arriving, immediately greeted me as I walked in. It was modern, impeccably clean and everyone spoke fluent English. If I didn’t know, I’d have sworn I was back in the . In the next 90 minutes a digital scan was taken of my teeth, the CEREC® veneers prepared, and the veneers applied and fitted.
Throughout the procedure my dentist and the staff gave me their full attention and focus, which I know from my frequent trips to the hospital is not always a certainty. The price was also quite handsome. The cost of each individual veneer was only £380- £2,280 total. Including my airfare, and one nights stay in the centre of Prague, the entire journey cost approximately £2,500. Once again for those who don’t enjoy math– that is nearly a 50% savings of £2,45o.
The Final Score
When I arrived home it was amazing to see the reactions of my teammates, friends and family. The changes were subtle, but the compliments I received quickly confirmed I had made the right decision. No longer did I feel self-conscious introducing myself to someone or smiling at a pretty lady. My mum and dad are certain that grand-babies are in their near future due to my new smile. We’ll see about that.
As an athlete I understand the importance of setting expectations and following them through. Both the end-to-end online platform and my dentist and staff were stunning examples of professionalism and dedication to their work. Not once did I feel uncomfortable, mislead or that quality was being sacrificed. With each step I had the guidance, information and support I needed. As an athlete I also like to win, and without a doubt my cosmetic dentistry journey and new smile were a victory.
Did you know 6 out of every 10 people in the developed world wear glasses, contact lenses, or have undergone corrective eye surgery? In the United States alone, over 30 million people wear contact lenses daily. In the UK this number is nearing 4 million and steadily rising. Do you know where the first contact lenses were invited? In the Czech Republic by a chemistry professor named Otto Wichterle.
In 1963, Wichterle, a professor at the University of Chemistry and Technology, Prague, finished developing a HEMA gel and production process. Two years later the National Patent Development Corporation signed a license contract in Prague, which later became the Flexible Contact Lens Corporation. Their sublicense partner was Bausch & Lomb, who to this day remains one of the global leaders in contact lens manufacturing. This little known fact is just one of many medical and scientific achievements the world can thank the Czech Republic for. Other noteworthy feats include the first full face transplant, which was performed in 2011 by a team of surgeons in Boston, Massachusetts and lead by Dr. Pomahac, a Czech plastic surgeon.
Medical Travel: A Birds-Eye View
Medical achievements and scientific discoveries have captured the world’s attention and imagination throughout history. During the past several decades, medical travel has done the same. Originally a market dominated by Latin American countries such as Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama and Brazil as well as countries in Southeast Asia including Thailand, Malaysia and India, medical travel has become an option for those seeking timely, efficient and affordable treatments. While the concept may still seem far-fetched, and even dangerous to some, the more recent Central European market, including the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, has started providing solutions and new opportunities for the wary patient. While the savings remain drastic, up to 80% in some cases, clinics and doctors understand that quality always takes priority over quantity. In addition to its regular tourist crowds, the Czech Republic and its capital city Prague, have recently emerged as a major destination for medical travellers seeking healthcare abroad.
Nestled in the heart of Europe, the Czech Republic, recently adopting the official name Czechia, has been a member of the EU since May 2004. For centuries, the capital city of Prague has been admired around the world for its breathtaking architecture, spectacular views and rich history. The “Jewel in the Crown” of Europe attracts over 7 million visitors each year and is one of the most popular tourist destinations around the world. Consequently, Prague has become progressively westernized and equally as developed as other western European cities. But why you ask? What makes Prague a sought after destination for medical travel? Let’s take a closer look.
Ranked among the world’s TOP 50 cities on the Numbeo’s quality of life index, Prague has surpassed cities such as Zurich, Los Angeles, Amsterdam and Rome. One factor that sets Prague apart is its exceptional and affordable healthcare. Its high quality is largely attributed to the Czech Republic’s dedication and long-standing tradition of medical education. The first medical school was established when Charles IV, King of Bohemia, and the Holy Roman Empire, issued a charter founding the University of Prague (presently Charles University in Prague) with four faculties- theology, liberal arts, law, and medicine. The year was 1348. According to the OECD Better Life index, Prague’s educational standards also surpass those of some economically stronger nations, such as the United States, United Kingdom and Switzerland.
2. High Quality (Over Quantity)
How high you ask? On top of the country’s leading educational standards, there are strict state regulations and accreditation requirements for all healthcare facilities, both state-operated and private. Clinics undergo regular inspections and patients are encouraged to evaluate the quality of their care as well as participate in national surveys and quality watch programs to raise any criticisms. Not surprisingly, the road to becoming a medical professional in the Czech Republic is not a walk in the park. When medical students graduate from their accredited universities after a minimum of six years, they must pass a series of first level exams followed by a two years residency with an experienced practitioner. For example, a plastic surgeon must spend two years in general surgery and four years studying plastic surgery theory and gaining practical practice in state-certified clinic before ever having the opportunity to operate themselves. Additionally, over the past two decades more and more western-style, privately owned clinics have opened in Prague, often run by Western trained doctors.
Ok, but why is the healthcare so affordable? There has to be a catch, right? Wrong. It is true that the Czech Republic’s average cost of living is much lower than other European countries, but it also means that salaries are lower than usual as well. For example, the best-paid doctors make around £13,000 per year whereas in neighboring Austria, salaries raise to £60,500. Due to the low cost of living, even top medical professionals in the Czech Republic expect much smaller salaries, allowing services to remain affordable while the quality remains high. For instance, the average silicon breast enlargement surgery in the UK costs £3,400 to £5,000.
Unfortunately, this usually does not include the price of preparation, anesthesia, compression garments or recovery time. In some circumstances the cost of the implants aren’t even included in the procedure price. The same surgery in Prague, all inclusive, including one to two nights’ recovery in a clinic, costs about £2,120. While the price savings are obvious, you can’t put a price on the headaches patients avoid having a package deal instead of paying a la carte.
4. Peace of Mind
Travelling abroad, be it for a medical treatment or leisure, can be extremely stressful at times. Long flights, unexpected delays, language barriers, etc. Another reason the Czech Republic is so attractive is its close proximity to the UK and Western Europe. A direct flight from London to Prague averages less than two hours and prices can be as low as £37. English literacy is also significantly high in the Czech Republic, especially in Prague. Most medical professionals are fluent in English, and it is essential for those welcoming patients from abroad. Cultural differences are also minimal for those coming from western nations, lessening the anxiety of travelling to a new country. Prague can also be the perfect place to relax and recoup after a procedure, and a much needed break from hustle and bustle at home.
So Why Prague?
So why the Czech Republic? Why Prague? The better question for those considering treatment abroad is, why not? Medical tourism is a booming industry, and rightfully so. As the foundation of healthcare in the countries such as the United States and United Kingdom continue to crumble, their citizens must look for new and progressive options. Prague, as well as other cities in Central Europe, has become an answer for thousands of people who were skeptical of travelling abroad from medical treatments. The Czech Republic, specifically, has not only set the bar high for medical advancements but medical travel as well. If you are seeking high standards, exceptional quality, affordable costs and peace of mind, look no further.
Salutara does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The information on this site is merely to orientate and provide a general outline. It does not replace professional advice, diagnosis and treatment recommended by a physician.