Medical Tourism in Costa Rica

Medical Tourism has become a very lucrative field since medical tourists
spend two or three times what a regular tourist does.
Only two hospitals now, Hospital Clinica Biblica in San José and
Hospital CIMA in Escazú, are certified with the international division of
Joint Commission Resources. More than 220 public and private health care
organizations in 33 countries have been accredited by this organization,
which basically sets the standards in international health care. Other health
organizations are in the process of seeking accreditation, including Hospital
Clinica Católica. Officials also promised to work with insurance companies
elsewhere, principally in the United States, so that their customers would
be covered for health treatment here. In addition, the government said it
would approach large employers in the United States to interest them in
sending employees here for health treatment.

Health care in Costa Rica is about a quarter of what it would in the
United States because of less administrative costs and a generally lower cost
of living and salaries. The Instituto Costarricense de Turismo expects that
by next year, the income from treating foreign patients will approach $100
million annually.

Here are some examples of people who came to Costa Rica from the
United States for medical procedures. Jane Doe came to Costa Rica and
had a face lift, liposuction and tummy tuck. The total bill was $10,000, less
that what she would have paidback home.

John Doe, 62 years old, had a total hip replacement. The cost was
$20,000. In the U.S. The same procedure is approximately $60,000. Doe
said, “My operation lasted six hours and before and after they made me feel
like a real person and not just a number.”

A number of recovery centers have sprouted up here where people
can recuperate from their different surgeries in Costa Rica. The cost can
be as low as $100 per day. Even with air travel, surgery and the recovery
center, the cost of these procedures is much more affordable than in the
U.S. Or Europe. Most of the recovery centers offer a whole gamut of tours
for their guests, so they can explore Costa Rica’s many natural wonders
while they recover.

Approximate Surgery Costs:
Bariatric surgery U.S. $30,000-$60,000 Costa Rica less than $10,000
Knee replacement surgery U.S. $12,000 Costa Rica around $4,500
Hip replacement U.S. $50,000 to $60,000 Costa Rica $20,000 to $25,000
Breast Implant U.S. $5,000 to $7,000 Costa Rica $2,500
Rhinoplasty (Nose Job) U.S. $5,700 Costa Rica from $2,000
Face lift U.S. $10,000 to $20,000 Costa Rica from $3,000
Liposculpture U.S. $5,000 Costa Rica from $3,000
Cataract U.S. $4,000 Costa Rica from $2,200
Crown for a tooth U.S. $800 to $1,600 Costa Rica from $350

To find a good surgeon check out the following websites
Clínica Bíblica
Clínica Católica
Hospital Cima

Costa Rica has excellent ophthalmologists. Lasik Surgery costs $800 to
$1200. Johan Fernández runs the Oftalmología Laser Center (2258-3031
or 2522-1000 ext. 2430 ) or see
His email is: He has an English- speaking
staff. His office is located in the Torre Médica Omega, Clínica Bíblica, 8th
floor in downtown San José. See the Yellow Pages for more “Oftamólogos.”

Care for the Elderly
Although the Costa Rican government funds homes for the elderly, foreigners
are probably better off in a private facility. Full-service custodial health
care is available in Costa Rica for the elderly at a very low cost. Care for
less independent senior citizens is about $1,500per month. Retirement
Centers International offers comprehensive medical care and assistance that
includes all medicines, lab work, dental care, physical therapy, rehabilitation
and special diets.

Villa Alegría (Tel:2433-8590 or 2372-1244, E-mail: info@
costaricanursinghomes .com, is a fullservice
facility for the elderly. The staff has more than 15 years of experience
is specializes in elderly illnesses such as Parkinson and Alzheimer’s. This
makes Villa Alegría a unique facility in Costa Rica. Love and dedication are
the main ingredients that inspire this group of professional caregivers.
These programs are some of Central America’s best and are considerably
less expensive than in the United States. However, if these facilities are
beyond an elderly person’s means, a full-time, live-in domestic worker can
be hired as a nurse for a couple of hundred dollars monthly. In addition to
caring for an elderly person this worker can manage other household chores.

For private home nursing, contact SIS CA Tel: 8394-4804 or 8341-2131.
Homewatch Caregivers also provides personal assistance for adults, Tel:2201-
5265, or

Alternative Healing
Costa Rica has more than a hundred acupunturists, chiropractors, homeopathic
doctors, therapeutic massage specialists and natural health practitioners. Check
The Tico Times, talk to other foreigners, health-food-stores, the Yellow Pages.

The Anti Aging Institute of the Americas – Costa Rica’s Answer to Cenegenics

After a short article appearing months ago in the Tico Times newspaper about a new anti-aging clinic, (Can Anti Aging Treatments Unlock the Fountain of Youth), I recently met with Dr. Leslie Mesen, Chief Medical Officer of the Anti Aging Institute of The Americas to get a more detailed description of his expanded services. The clinic is located in The Country Plaza, across the street from the Villas del Rio condos, and kitty-cornered to the Costa Rica Country Club in Escazu. The offices and treatment rooms are on the second floor, where I sat down with Dr. Mesen and inquired, “Just what is ‘anti-aging’ all about and what is Cenegenics?”

Dr. Mesen answered, “Anti aging is a new medical practice specialty focusing on the health and well being of primarily middle aged men and women and seniors.

The goal is to allow our patients to continue to be active and to look and feel younger as they advance through middle age and beyond. Our mission is to give patients a vehicle to live active fulfilling lives, giving them the additional energy to live engaged, active and enriched life styles. Growing older is inevitable but looking and feeling older is a personal decision. We offer our patients a model, and if they embrace it, it will allow them to perform at the top range of their age group, physically and mentally.

“How did you become interested in this anti-aging specialty?”

Dr. Mesen laughed and said, “Well, I remember being a child and watching people grow up, seeing older family members age, and wondering why that after they reached maturity, why they just didn’t stay that way. What made people grow old? Why did people start aging and have all the consequences of deteriorating bodies, less energy and having age associated health problems. That curiosity was really why I became a doctor in the first place. So, after becoming a doctor, I took the necessary courses and requirements of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, located in Florida, and am now one of their 24,000 members worldwide.”

“So why did you open a clinic here in Costa Rica?”

“While practicing in Florida at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami for two years, I became aware of a US based anti-aging group called ‘Cenegenics’. Cenegenics was an early pioneer in the practice of anti aging medicine and they have done an admirable job of providing their patients with quality anti aging medical care, nutritional guidance and proper exercise. They are headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada, but have offices in most states, serving their clients. But, the Cenegenics program is very expensive, with high costs brought on by outrageous medical malpractice insurance premiums in the United States and office and medical staff costs there. Being Costa Rican, I wanted to return to my country, provide this service to not only local residents, but also to foreigners at a greatly reduced cost, because of our lower cost of doing business here. Also, a more recent problem for anti-aging clinics in the US is that the FDA has declared HGH illegal for anti-aging purposes, that it can only be used to treat diseases such as dwarfism and AIDS related wasting diseases. However, human growth hormone is legal in Costa Rica for anti-aging, health enhancement purposes.”

Dr. Mesen explained that the model for his clinic, like Cenegenics, is hormone replacement, HGH, testosterone and other hormones to balance the body’s system, plus healthy nutrition and a good exercise program. Patients that embrace all three of these elements will experience excellent results and enjoy many benefits, enabling them to live fulfilling and active life styles and avoid many of the complaints of “growing old”. There are also elements such as finding a healthy balance between, work, family time and personal time. Patients are encouraged to get a good night’s sleep, be sexually active and enjoy life to its fullest, while moderating alcohol consumption.

As a result, Dr. Mesen says that patients experience many benefits. HGH, for example, provides increased healing of tissue throughout the body, shorter recovery times after a workout, and an increase in the metabolic rate that helps patients to loose weight and keep it off. Patients notice healthier, thicker skin, less wrinkles, and less aches and pains as the body rebuilds itself to a more youthful state. Testosterone replacement promotes increased energy and stamina, increased muscle mass, lower body fat and increased libido. The idea is to give your body the same hormone balance that it had in your 20’s, where with those higher hormone levels, your body naturally maintained, repaired and regenerated itself.

“How do patients gets started and what is the progression of applying your anti aging model.”

“First we start with a thorough medical exam, a cardio stress test for patients over 50, and an extensive panel of blood tests. With these, we then a have a complete overview of the patient’s hormone levels and health from which to make medical recommendations. If we see any health issues that concern us, we refer them to an appropriate medical specialist before our treatments. If there are just normal issues, then these can be addressed through healthy life style changes and proper hormone replacement. In addition, we require all repeat patients to have an exam one time per year. The majority of middle aged males, unfortunately, do not see a medical doctor until they have a real problem. We try to catch conditions before they become a serious issue. And, in Costa Rica, our medical exams are a fraction of the cost of an exam in the USA.”

“How much HGH and testosterone do you prescribe?”

Dr. Mesen continued, “Simply speaking our goal is to optimize our patients levels to the levels commensurate to what they had when they were in their early twenties. For HGH, we look to elevate patients to an IGF 1 level of 350. For testosterone we elevate to a free testosterone level of 1200. We base our prescription amounts on the patient’s baseline levels from the blood tests we perform. We do the same for female patients, with the appropriate female hormone replacements to bring them to the levels they were in their twenties.”

“How do you administer these treatments, especially for foreign patients?”

“Well, you’ve brought up a good point. We offer local patients two delivery systems – the injectable that we, or they, can do by themselves.

But, for foreign residents that must travel here, we recommend our pellet implant delivery system. With the pellet implant system, we place HGH and testosterone pellets into the body which then slowly release measured amounts of HGH and testosterone over a three to four month period. This eliminates the need for patients to travel with injectable medications, like HGH, that may be restricted in their county of origin.”

Dr. Mesen also explained that all patients have the option to meet with a nutritionist to design a diet plan that meets their current needs and future goals. Before treatment, their body fat is also measured to monitor their progress. Then the patient has the option to meet with a professional trainer to have their current fitness levels evaluated. They then can have a custom training program designed for their goals. Costs for these are nominal when compared to what it would be in the USA.

“So what is the reason patients should come to your clinic as opposed to Cenegenics.”

“Simply stated, we provide the same quality of care at much lower cost to the patient. Why pay double when you don’t have to! In addition, Cenegenics may not be able to legally prescribe HGH treatments for the purposes of returning you to your twenties’ hormone levels, unless it finds some other degenerative condition. It should be noted also that our medications, HGH and testosterone, comes from the same FDA approved medical suppliers, but our prices are much lower than what Cenegenics charges. With their saving, our patients could enjoy a free vacation here in beautiful Costa Rica, go to the beach, or Arenal Volcano or a spa each time they return for treatment.”

Dr. Mesen also stressed that in addition to hormone anti-aging treatments, they also provide other anti-aging procedures for younger clients with no hormone deficiencies. For instance, PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) treatments can help with facial skin rejuvenation and retard or reverse hair loss. Botox treatments are available to treat facial wrinkles. Also, treatments known as “facial fillers” or “dermal fillers” that can plump up the lips or reduce wrinkle lines are available. All of this is good news for locals wishing to improve their appearance, and foreigners wishing to save money without sacrificing any quality in their care.

Visit the website for more information on hormone replacement therapy – testosterone and HGH, human growth hormone.
Also visit Dr. Mesen’s new website – to find out the latest advancements in stem cells treatment for not only anti-aging, but a host of degenerative diseases that are responding to stem cell therapy. Although in the research phase in the United States, where it is not permitted for treatment, Costa Rica has no law prohibiting treatment here.

Eco Tourism Meeting Medical Tourism Development Opportunities in Costa Rica

With all the doom and gloom coming to us by way of the media, including those of some visitors and tourists from North America and Europe, the answer would probably be, “no”, says Robert Shannon of Costa Rica Retirement Vacation Properties Real Estate Company.

Costa Rica’s tourism is still flourishing but for how long, some think? It’s hard to predict as one would have to believe the impact of world events would catch up with us sooner or later.

But, consider these facts:
1. This year alone over 250,000 Americans will travel to Costa Rica and places like Thailand for affordable medical care. They will be seeking everything from root canals to heart transplants. Also, becoming more popular and acceptable, is drug and alcohol rehabilitation at reduced cost. The proximity to the USA and the high standard of health care Costa Rica offers suggest that a higher percentage will come here.

2. We keep seeing statistics that eco tourism / sustainable tourism is becoming one of the most sought after travel packages. This comes in many different forms, but one of the most popular is the vacationer seeking to get a feel for making their contribution to our planet by using these sustainable tourism facilities.

We have seen some good attempts at eco-sustainable projects and they are interesting, and often in provocative, if not primitive, places. But, Costa Rica has yet to see a major developer get involved in what many consider a necessary part of the future that will impact all of us for the good – combining the medical tourism aspects with eco-tourism! – complete medical tourism marketing information.
Goodness Healthcare Marketing Company.

Last year it was reported by the accommodation industry that boutique hotels and B&B’s are the fastest growing segment of their industry. And, Costa Rica is getting ready for the anticipated increase in business in this area, as well as more major, brand name resorts coming here. For instance, the $40,000,000 expansion to the Liberia international Airport will be completed this year. There will be many new flights and visitors. Tourism is definitely up, and certainly, many of those visitors are interested in sustainable tourism, and others, medical tourism.

For those with a vision, a major eco-sustainable project, coupled with medical tourism, done by a well-financed developer, could make Costa Rica the focal point for the world. Costa Rica, with a land area of only 51.100 km2 (0.03% of the planet’s surface) and 589.000 km2 of territorial waters, is considered to be one of the 20 countries with greatest biodiversity in the world. And, it is also considered to be one of the premier destinations for medical treatments, with its modern medical and dental facilities and well trained, professional, and English speaking, doctors.

A well planned eco-sustainable project could include an integrated medical facility, on site or nearby, serving both the immediate community and the greater surrounding area – a benefit to Costa Rican locals and tourists alike. It would be designed to meet both “eco” and medical needs, which would attract thousands of clients per year, not only from the USA but around the world.

Hotels, condominiums, homes and boutique lodging could be included in the facilities specifically for medical recovery accommodations. Regular hotel accommodations could be included in the project to facilitate the eco tourist spouse, or friends, anxious to experience the lifestyle of Costa Rica, see the sights, and to test the waters of this tropical paradise.

Then, the answer to the initial question, “Would you develop property in Costa Rica today?” becomes academic if you are a developer looking to find a sound place to invest, but especially, with the right vision – medical facilities combined with eco-tourism.

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