Medical tourism: an area of ​​opportunity for Mexico


According to health sector figures, in 2018 the size of the medical tourism industry in Mexico reached 14.1 billion dollars with a direct contribution to the tourism of 3.5 billion dollars.

Currently, Latin American countries such as Brazil, Colombia and Cuba are considered benchmarks in medical tourism as well as other Asian countries such as India.
Currently, Latin American countries such as Brazil, Colombia and Cuba are considered benchmarks in medical tourism as well as other Asian countries such as India.

According to an analysis of the Health sector, in 2018, the size of the medical tourism industry in Mexico reached 14.1 billion dollars (9 percent of the total worldwide), with a direct contribution to the tourism sector of 3.5 billion dollars.

Figures that have positioned us as the second power in medical tourism worldwide, only below Thailand.

Among the procedures, aesthetic surgeries stand out, which are up to 50 percent cheaper than in the United States.

"Beauty concepts are fully described here and in China. However, some of these canons are being added due to the role played by the media. Such was the case of the buttock implants of actress and singer Jennifer Lopez; the demand for this procedure increased almost 2,000 percent in recent years," said plastic surgeon Emmanuel Flores, a member of the International Society of Plastic and Aesthetic Surgery (ISAP).

"The obsession for beauty is nothing new, however, what we are willing to sacrifice to achieve it, yes," said psychologist Laura Diaz.

In comparison, a rhinoplasty in the United States costs about 4,200 dollars (82,696 pesos), in Mexico, it ranges between 37,000 pesos.

This important difference was one of the factors that attracted Laura Avila, a student from Texas, United States, who traveled to Ciudad Juarez to undergo rhinoplasty, a surgery where due to medical negligence, she suffered a cardiac arrest that cost her life.

"It is increasingly common for them to want access to surgery from an early age, some as young as 12. This also has to do with the pressure exerted by social networks, but we as professionals must educate the patient and not just operate for the money. If they are minors, they have to be accompanied by their parents," said Dr. Emmanuel Flores.

Information published by the Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS) of 4,322 clinics that were reviewed last year, anomalies were identified in 510 of them and 264 were suspended.

"I have spent a little more than 200,000 pesos on the four operations I have. For me, beauty is elevating the care of oneself," said Mexican Luis Sepúlveda, who to radically lose 80 kilograms, decided to go through the scalpel to recover his figure.

"The plastic surgeries help to reach the idealization that we have for being attractive, as long as they are performed with someone certified to verify and ensure the integrity of patients, that increases the chances of having a good result," concluded Sepulveda.


Guadalajara and its metropolitan area have become an attraction for medical tourism, due to its excellence in specialists and the number of public and private hospitals that offer quality care. In addition, the formation of human capital and the spaces to organize massive events that bring together specialists from around the world, give a plus to the city, which continues to receive significant investment, both in terms of hospitals, as well as hotel infrastructure adapted for post-surgical recovery.

According to the Ministry of Economic Development (Sedeco) of the government of Jalisco, until last October there were 14,182 registered spaces for health care and attention, as well as announcements of important investments, among them a Hospital Angeles that is being built in the area of Andares, where there is already an Iron Gate, both attractive for their quality in high specialty, as well as in ambulatory surgery.

"Beyond outpatient dental and ophthalmological procedures, there are some in orthopedics, traumatology or plastic surgery, because there is a great proposal in the city and it is attractive for a segment of tourism that comes accompanied, seeking accommodation and even a leisure agenda," said German Ralis Cumplido, head of the Ministry of Tourism in Jalisco.

He explained that the city has ideal conditions for the recovery of those who have undergone surgery and there are at least 11 hotels in the Guadalajara metropolitan area with adapted rooms and tour operators that come for the patient at the airport, transfer him to his hotel and take him to and pick him up from the hospital to return to the hotel or rest house for his recovery and assign medical and nursing staff for his personal care. If requested, they also offer leisure tours, mainly to Tequila, Chapala or Puerto Vallarta.

If you add to these conditions an important aspect, related to the costs, which are estimated to be between 30 and 60% less in comparison to other cities in the world known for their high specialty such as Houston, medical tourism becomes more powerful, said Jose Francisco Muñoz Valle, rector of the University Center for Health Sciences (CUCS), of the University of Guadalajara, who has also seen an increase in the enrollment of foreigners, even from other continents, such as Europe and Asia, who seek school exchange to Guadalajara.

He explained that every semester they receive around forty exchange requests, since the maximum house of studies in the entity has 57 medical specialties, five dental specialties and one nursing specialty within the National Program of Post-Graduate Quality, as well as 21 locations in hospitals for the exercise and six private universities where the career of doctor, surgeon, and midwife is also taught.

"A competitive advantage offered by the state in medical tourism is the price and we see how Americans, Canadians, and Europeans come here to have dental, cosmetic and other types of treatments with excellent results," added Ernesto Sanchez Proal, head of Sedeco.

According to the state official, in addition to the attraction of specialist training, hospital investment and special post-surgical accommodation, the city also has at least four companies manufacturing advanced biomedical devices, endorsed by the U.S. government agency, responsible for the regulation of food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, biological products and blood derivatives (FDA), which are sold to about twenty global companies dedicated to imaging issues, which makes turn to see Guadalajara as an ideal place for investment and represented 8. 7 million dollars raised in the first half of 2019 for health-related issues.

With these data, the bet is to achieve the designation of Guadalajara as "Health Capital" and they are also working on aspects of homologation in legal matters to facilitate those from other countries who decide to visit Guadalajara, to make it easier for them to handle the procedures related to invoicing, as well as handling medical expense insurance policies.

By Mexicanist