Weakened U.S. dollar brings cosmetic patients State-side
While hard figures are hard to come by on just how many are coming and how much the cosmetic traffic has risen since the dollar began its descent, U.S.-based cosmetic surgeons say they have witnessed a substantial uptick in foreign patients in recent years. "We've seen an incredible increase in patients coming from foreign countries," reports Z. Paul Lorenc, M.D., a New York-based plastic surgeon and assistant professor of plastic surgery at the New York University School of Medicine.
EXCHANGE RATE RALLY "There has definitely been an upswing in the last couple of years because it's basically a bargain for them," Dr. Lorenc says, adding that patients have come from regions ranging from Ireland and Europe to Japan, South America and Dubai. "If I had to pick one place from which I've seen the most patients, it would be Great Britain," he tells Cosmetic Surgery Times. Dr. Lorenc enjoys a relatively high profile, and with appearances on networks like CNN, a book published in 2004 and the Internet, patients looking for a skilled surgeon in the U.S. have little trouble finding him. "I had a patient who came in from Japan with my book, which had been translated into Japanese, and I think that's one of the reasons she came all the way here. The Internet also helps people find me," he relates.
The trend of foreign patients coming to the U.S. has not been lost on marketers, who also don't have much trouble finding Dr. Lorenc. "We get an awful lot of inquiries from companies that are doing these types of promotions to patients overseas," he says. "Just this morning, we got a call from a marketing company trying to reach a physician." The callers typically aren't put through to Dr. Lorenc because he doesn't market his practice, but a growing number of other surgeons do, and they are increasingly promoting their practices in publications and on the airwaves overseas.
PROMOTION AT 20,000 FEET Travelers on many U.S. airlines need only pick up the airline in-flight magazine to find glossy, full-page advertisements promoting the "Best Plastic Surgeons in America," in addition to the "best" doctors and orthopedic surgeons — ads designed to target U.S. and foreign travelers alike. "The ads in U.S. in-flight magazines are resulting in a number of clients from overseas," states John Rissi, president of Madison Media Corp, which places such ads. The company markets the advertising to doctors who have appeared on "top doctor" lists compiled by Castle Connolly and published in "top doctor" issues of publications such as New York Magazine.
"We will also have ads in the Air Canada in-flight magazine and are looking at Russian and Japanese markets as well, so the international airline program has only started," Mr. Rissi notes.
John Sherman, M.D., one of the surgeons listed in the ads, says he has definitely seen a substantial increase in foreign patients. "Over the last two years, the number of foreign patients we've had in my practice has risen significantly," states Dr. Sherman, assistant professor at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City.