Medical Tourism in Peru

May 27th, 2010

Does the simplest procedure in your country cost thousands of dollars? Perhaps certain newer treatments are unavailable? Is your country’s idea of health insurance more maximizing profits than health care? Maybe there are huge waiting lists to suffer?

More and more people from developed countries are heading to developing countries for the high quality medical care they can’t get at home. From dentistry, to cosmetic, to life-saving and long-term treatment, many are surprised to find the quality of care to be the same or even superior to what they are used to for a tiny fraction of the cost. When you add to this the costs of travel, hotels and a potentially enjoyable vacation it can still cost less. If you want to visit some of the most interesting locations in the world in addition to carrying out your procedure, what better place is there than Peru?


Who would have thought quality dentistry at a fair price could be equally difficult to get in the so-called “free market” of the United States and the so-called “socialist” system of the United Kingdom. Both systems seem to let some people down… and even if they don’t… even if you can afford great treatment, you’re just as likely to be able to afford a life-changing couple of weeks travelling through the deserts, mountains and jungles of exotic Peru. Why not have your treatment done on the side and use the savings to pay for the flight over? More and more people are thinking the same.

Dental treatment lends itself well to being most people’s first step into the world of treatment abroad with most procedures being relatively minor. One dental clinic set up yo meet this ever increasing demand from patients who would otherwise have simply been called tourists is Travel and Smile.

“Combine a vacation with your dental work to see one of the 7 Wonders of the New World at the awe-inspiring lost Inca city of Machu Picchu, visit the world’s highest navigable lake at Lake Titicaca and fly over the ancient and mysterious Nazca Lines that still baffle scientists as to their purpose”, the clinic tells potential clients.

Set up by Dr. Enrique Yuen, the clinic offers the latest equipment and procedures, including high precision 3D CAD/CAM designed restorations, all conforming to European and American standards, if not surpassing them. “We are pioneers in this field in Peru and most established dental tourism firm with 6 years experience”, they explain. The ”dental tourism” orientated clinic also offers clients an English-speaking environment.

If the low prices were something that might cause alarm, these are explained. “We can boast world class dentistry at a great price due to services, property and living costs being much lower in comparison to many other countries. In fact, your treatment here can cost you up to three times less than identical treatments in Europe and the United States”.

In affect, the prices aren’t cheap, just reasonable, whereas the prices you might pay back home are exorbitant.

More on dentistry in Peru.


US citizen Charles Sizemore and his wife felt it was a no-brainer to have their baby delivered in Peru, particularly as his wife was originally from here and had her parents to support them in the northern city of Trujillo.

“Uncomplicated childbirths cost an average of $8,000 in the US. That can easily exceed $20,000, and premature births average $47,000, according to 2007 study by Thomson Healthcare. We hired the best doctor in Trujillo, and reserved a suite for my wife in the best maternity hospital. The total cost? Less than $1,000. Cash”, he wrote online.

They are not alone. Many expats living in Peru have had very positive experiences when giving birth in Peru. From US-trained fluent English speaking doctors to great post-natal care. Many a new mother would recommend an affordable stay of several days in the hospital after the birth with 24hr nursing to help in the transition into the responsibilities and energy-drain that is motherhood.

Expat Jim’s wife also considered the experience a positive one. “Everything went great except that she had some internal problems and the baby would not come out so there was a C-section….. but it was great. My wife is up and walking around now. The entire cost of the birth was less than $1200 USD including 3 nights in the hospital and all the pain medication that she wanted. Everyone was very nice and professional. They took care of the documentation”.

He found an added benefit was that, regardless of parents nationalities, every baby born in Peru has the right to Peruvian citizenship. Charles adds: “For Americans wondering about citizenship and residency issues, this too is relatively easy if at least one parent is a US citizen. We made a trip to the US embassy in Lima to obtain the baby’s citizenship documents and passport. The little guy is not even a month old, and he’s already a dual citizen.”

Unfortunately, giving birth in a foreign country is not for everyone and of course probably not for “tourists”. Foreign residents in Peru of course don’t really consider their adopted country all that foreign and likely have a circle of family and friends around them.


Some medical procedures may be as uncomplicated as the natural process of childbirth and the simple procedures of dentistry, while others, such as cosmetic surgery might need more expertise and precision.

Though not unlikely that you will find a doctor who has studied at a medical school in the US or spent their residencies there, and though not unlikely that you will find prices to be well below half of what they are in your country, some procedures might require a “Peruvian connection” in terms of Peruvian family to provide support. There are important considerations even if this does describe you. As Rachel Gamarra explains; “There is much preparation that needs to be considered before planning a cosmetic surgery vacation abroad. Cosmetic surgery is like any other surgery and comes with its own set of risks. There are absolutely no guarantees and any preconception of a happy “Dr. 90210” ending should be tossed out the window!”

As someone who has underwent the cosmetic surgeons knife in Peru and was pleased with the results, she warns of the time involved, first in for the consultations and finding the right doctor, then in the recovery time, then in the follow up appointments. It could be a drawn out process rather than a border hop. Is it worth the difference in price being away from home and possibly work for so long? It may well be, but you’d have to investigate. Rachel ultimately advises her fellow Americans; “Plastic surgery abroad should only be considered if you [or spouse] are originally from the country where you will be having the plastic surgery or if you are an American already residing indefinitely in the country where you will be undergoing your cosmetic procedure(s)”.

Time is not the only issue to consider. It is quite unlikely you’ll feel up to hiking to Machu Picchu post-op. Some of the benefits of visiting an exotic destination for minor work would likely not translate well for a more serious procedure.

But for more serious conditions you might consider treatment and recovery times to be irrelevant.

We have a dear friend in Lima who had stage four cancer a couple of years ago and is doing fine now. In the U.S. he would have been overlooked because he had no insurance and little money. Not so in Peru, where he has received the best treatment and tests for a tiny fraction of what it would cost in the U.S. — and from a doctor who trained at M.D. Anderson Cancer center in Houston, no less!
People who malign medical care outside of the U.S. may have never experienced it. This is about a lot more than saving money. -Marie A.C.

Visiting Peru

Ultimately it depends on the individual and the type of procedure required as to whether a trip to Peru is worth the hassle. Of course, as a reader of this blog it is likely that you already have a “Peru connection” that minimizes the effect those negatives mentioned.

Whether you intend to have medical treatment as part of your already-planned visit to Peru, or whether planning to visit Peru as way to save money on a procedure, just make sure you have enough time to experience the many wonders Peru has to offer!

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