How many medical tourists are there?

There has always been speculation about the true number of medical tourists travelling from the UK for treatment abroad.

We've just completed the first ever survey of medical tourism providers, and have come up with some interesting data on the medical tourism market. The Treatment Abroad Medical Tourism Survey 2007 (, reveals that over 50,000 people travelled abroad for treatment last year, and spent £161 million on medical tourism. The number of medical tourists increased by 25% over the 12 months and will continue to grow over the next 6-12 months.

Dentistry is the most popular service with dental treatments such as crowns, dental implants, bridges and veneers leading the way. Over 20,000 Brits travel abroad for their teeth, spending around £2,500 each, with an estimated market value of over £50 million per annum.

Cosmetic surgery is a close second with around 14,500 patients travelling outside the UK. Breast augmentation, tummy tuck, liposuction and facelift are popular choices; patients spend around £3,500 each, creating an estimated market size of £50 million.

The most common types of elective surgery for patients travelling abroad are hip replacement, knee replacement, laser eye surgery and cataract removal, with some 10,000 patients spending £37 million in 2007.