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By Marc Meisfel (2010)
I have recently been in the Southern Thai city of Hat Yai for two weeks, in order to do some research on cosmetic surgery and related procedures, and to have some routine maintenance done myself. My overall impression has been favorable.
I didn't had any cosmetic surgery done at this time. And I do believe that for major procedures, Hat Yai is not the most suited destination.
The overall best-known cosmetic surgeon in Hat Yai seems to be Dr. Sombaj. He is present at various hospitals in Hat Yai on different days (including the private Hat Yai Bangkok Hospital as well as the public Hat Yai Hospital), and he also runs his private clinic off Rajindee Road (open in the late afternoon only). Dr Sombaj is very specialized on plastic surgery, and apparently also teaches it at a Hat Yai medical school. In our conversation, he mentioned that he does not do Botox injections, for two reasons: 1. results are not permanent (but I am still a Botox fan), and 2. many other clinics in Hat Yai do it anyway (which is true).
Most cosmetic clinics in Hat Yai charge for Botox by the unit, at 300 to 400 Baht per unit. Others charge per treated spot, some 3000 to 6000 Baht. I am a Botox veteran, and I would never go for Botox by the unit, and definitely not per treated spot. I always just have 100 units injected into various areas of the face, every 4 or 5 month.
The genuine Allergen Botox is available in Hat Yai only at selected hospital pharmacies. The private Hat Yai Bangkok Hospital sells it for almost 20,000 Baht per bottle (100 units), and at the public Hat Yai Hospital, the price in November 2008 was 13,700 Baht. Pharmacies in Thailand that are not attached to hospitals almost never sell injection medications, and definitely not something as delicate (and expensive) as Botox.
I looked around for almost a week for an economical Botox solution in Hat Yai, and it was the clinic of Dr. Nara right next to the Indra Hotel that saved my day. Dr. Nara provided the cheapest Botox injection that I have ever found, at just 14,000 Baht per bottle of 100 units. In the week when I had the Botox injection, the Thai Baht stood at 35 to the US dollar, so Dr. Nara's Botox was only 400 US dollar for 100 units, including the injecting.
The injecting was done by Dr. Nara himself, and definitely at a high professional standard, but without the garnish encountered at many other clinics that want their service appear more valuable (for the higher price they charge). So, at Dr. Nara's, there was no lidocaine cream to numb the skin, and ice packs were also not used. This suited me just fine. The previous time I had Botox injections done in Bangkok, I myself refused the lidocain cream (no effect on me anyway) and the ice packs, too, and told the injecting physician to just go ahead. Dr. Nara himself did not offer the lidocain cream and the ice packs, which are anyway unnecessary. Therefore the whole procedure was over in 20 minutes.
I had requested to see the unopened pack, which Dr. Nara and his staff happily agreed to, and they opened the Botox bottle in front of my eyes, and when they diluted the bottle content and drew it into three syringes, they made sure I could see it, which was a good gesture. Botox is so immensely expensive, and there is so much fake Botox around that I would not trust a clinic that doesn't want to let me see what they are doing with the Botox bottle.
The Botox used at Dr. Nara's clinic was definitely genuine, and I was very pleased with the results as they settled in over the next three days.
Those readers that show up at Dr. Nara's clinic for Botox injections of 100 units should best bring a print-out of this article and mention that it was declared in this article, that as a matter of principle, Dr. Nara and his nurses show the un-opened bottle to the patient and dilute the bottle contend before his or her eyes.
Be sure that there is no commission for the author of this article. At 400 US dollars per 100 units, including the injecting, there is no allowance for commissions. 400 US dollar in November 2008 was the cheapest price I could see on the Internet for genuine Allergen Botox, 100 units, and that was without the injecting.
Dr. Nara has a good reputation within the medical community in Hat Yai. Several other physicians whom I spoke to recommended his services.
While Botox was the main matter I researched in Hat Yai, another minor topic of my research, and my own treatment regimen, has been the removal of spider veins on the face. In principle, there are two treatment options for spider veins, either injecting them with a necrosis-inducing agent, or zapping them with a laser.
The injections are usually Athoxysclerol, a German-invented product that has been around for some 40 years and is well-researched. However, the Athoxysclerol apparently is indicated primarily for varicose veins on the legs, rather than for spider veins on the face. 5 ampules of 2 ml cost some 70 US dollar on the Internet, about 2500 Thai baht in November 2008.
I found one skin doc with a cosmetic clinic, Dr. Prinya, who recommended 2 vials for 3000 baht (a price that would have been 2000 baht more expensive than the Internet-based price for two vials. He mentioned that the laser option would be slightly more expensive, and that the injections would be more effective than the laser, but as my spider veins are very thin indeed, I felt the injections would be a bit of an overkill.
I admit that I am also a suspicious patient. Docs sometimes recommend treatments that are more suitable for themselves (because they provide better earnings), rather than the patient.
The laser used for spider veins and varicose veins is an Nd-YAD long-pulse laser, and there are quite a few beauty clinics in Hat Yai that offer it (or have it mentioned on their shop fronts, which doesn't necessarily mean that they have working equipment), two of them in the shopping mall opposite the Central Department Store in downtown Hat Yai.
I finally chose one of these (the one on the second floor), as they had the lowest charges, just 1500 baht per treatment. The average price, according to my research, was 3000 to 4000 baht per treatment session, and I encountered one skin specialist who wanted to charge me 8000 baht. When the spider veins on my face were more pronounced, I had once paid something like 16,000 baht in Bangkok (a price I now consider an overcharge).
The clinic that I used in Hat Yai (Dr. Ponsak's clinic in the shopping mall opposite the Central Department Store) was probably not as eager to zap every little spider vein as the much more expensive service I had previously used in Bangkok, and they did say that more than one treatment would be necessary. But at a price just half of that of their closest competitor, I did not complain. Anyway, I believe in the softer, less invasive (and therefore better) approach of spanning the laser treatment over several sessions, some three or more weeks apart.
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Copyright Marc Meisfelt