Sep 19

The update on the introduction today is brief, just two paragraphs. I’m not sure why they merited their own subheading when Beauty from Afar copy was being finalized. I recall being told, pretty much, that the more catchy subheads we had, the better. So that’s how we end up with A Nose Job in Iran?

And the answer to the question is: Why not?

What I was trying to point out is as true now as it was in 2005: There is terrific medical care in parts of the world that many people do not associate with terrific medical care. So while many U.S. citizens associate Iran with mullahs, election fraud and threats to world peace, we should keep in mind that Iran is a large and diverse country; that there are more than a million Americans of Iranian descent; and that if we’re worried about Iran’s nuclear technology, we can certainly assume their plastic surgeons may have mastered rhinoplasty.

In fact, they’re known for being good at it, which is why I mentioned it at all.

However briefly.

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Sep 19

Introduction Page 3 | Seeking Beauty from Afar: How I Got My Smile Back

A Nose Job in Iran?

I first focused on the bigger picture, which was plastic and cosmetic surgery in Costa Rica and elsewhere, and soon found myself swimming in a sea of Internet message boards. Mexico — was it safe? Had anyone been to Malaysia? Did South Africa make any sense at all? Why Spain for weight-loss surgery? Nose jobs in Iran, tummy tucks in Colombia, sexual reassignments in Thailand, new boobs in Brazil … it seemed that in every corner of the globe, plastic surgery was being performed for fees dramatically less than those charged by doctors in the United States and Europe, and it was even being done in places prospective patients could consider going to for a vacation.

Still, it was something one had to know about to find. It was a phenomenon, perhaps even a trend, but small — in fact tiny — when measured against the number of people who don’t leave the country to want cosmetic surgery. It didn’t even really have a name yet, though the mainstream media made periodic attempts to label it. “Lipotourism” was tried on for size (notably by The New York Times), but it didn’t really stick, describing, as it did, mostly a quick trip for fat suctioning and not much else. I’d run across “medical tourism” and used it once in an article, but it wasn’t in common usage. “Health tourism” was another borderline misnomer. As time passed, the term “medical tourism,” as uncomfortable as it is to some people, caught on.

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