Sun, Sea and Scalpels

Fancy a hip replacement and an Asian vacation? With bargain prices, a wealth of medical specialists and alluring post-op locales, Southeast Asia has proved irresistible to ailing tourists. Singapore entered the clinical fray about a decade ago, followed by Thailand a few years later; now Malaysia is on the health-tourism bandwagon.

Capitalizing on its Western-trained medics and a favorable exchange rate (neighboring Singapore's treatments cost twice as much), Malaysia's wards now proffer everything from laparoscopic surgery to liposuction. And patients are flocking: the Association of Private Hospitals of Malaysia (APHM) claims that in 2002 nearly 85,000 medical tourists...

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