Nov 22

You probably found this blog post by searching the Internet, which might mean that you can skim or even skip Chapter 5 of Beauty from Afar, which starts today:

Chapter 5 Page 1 | Research, Research … and More Research

But then again, you might learn something even if you’re a whiz at Internet research. This is probably the most blatant “How-To” self-help-style chapter in the book and if you dislike self-help books generally, which I do, maybe you want to take a look through and see how I managed to make the material palatable … which I’m guessing I did. It starts off OK, anyway.

I really did have the notion that I *might* get enough of a book advance for Beauty from Afar to take a budget tour of the world’s best hospitals. As it turned out, I didn’t get quite that much and the advance payment mostly went for things like food and shelter.

I found the silver lining in having to do most of my research online and by phone, as you’ll see.

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Nov 22

Chapter 5 Page 1 | Research, Research … and More Research

Before I wrote a word of this book, I:

  • Read or at least skimmed and saved more than 6,000 posts about medical tourism and cosmetic surgery in Internet forums. I have no idea how many I read and did not save.
  • Accumulated more than 200 Internet bookmarks — and this is despite pruning my files regularly to try to only keep the ones I thought I absolutely needed.
  • Read or at least glanced through more than 1,500 news stories and press releases about medical tourism and cosmetic surgery. I read seven or eight books, only three of which I had to buy. I found the others in the library.

My e-mail folders for book material alone number more than 40, on two separate Internet accounts. Mercifully, I have unlimited long-distance at a flat rate in North America and very inexpensive overseas rates with an Internet phone service. The time I spent on the phone with surgeons and patients and other sources was extensive, but the cost was nearly inconsequential.

I say this not to boast, but to explain that doing the research for this book did not work out at all the way I had originally hoped. It was a grind, a day-in and day-out sifting and weighing of information that went on for a year. I had wanted to travel from country to country — around the world, in fact. In between plane flights, I had wanted to live in strange and new places, perhaps, on-and-off, for months. Everyone I e-mailed, everyone I talked to on the phone, I wanted to meet in person; and I still do.

Maybe someday. It was as unaffordable for me in 2005 as the dental work I needed was in 2003. I did go to some places. In the end, I realized, more traveling would not have made for a better or more useful book, though it would have been more fun for me and better for me and my sources to meet in person. But I might have skimped on the basic research. A reader might enjoy my around-the-world tour but find it the superficial account of a jet-setter. If you are going to consider the option of going abroad for medical care or cosmetic surgery or dental work, you probably won’t tour facilities in person around the globe, either. You’ll sit at home and research and read, as I did. Then you’ll either plan and go, or you won’t.

A lot of people are very good, even great, at doing research on the Internet. They may skim through this chapter, as skilled Internet researchers, familiar with the tricks and tips I am about to unveil. But I know from years of experience working for Internet companies that most people are less than expert in their use of computers and the Internet, even to the point of feeling helpless. But you, or a friend willing to help you, will need at least rudimentary computer skills — typing, mouse clicking, Web browsing — to get what you need from this chapter.

The Bare Minimum: General Resources

Recommending Web sites in a book is somewhat perilous. Books are immutable. Web sites come and go, change, move, break; they can go stale; they can even be stolen. However, there are a few — just a few — in which I have a high degree of confidence, enough to recommend them in print and discuss. They are enough to get anyone well-started who is interested in traveling abroad for cosmetic surgery or any other kind of medical care.

It is certainly possible, using the following dozen or so sites to:

  • Consider the cosmetic procedures in which you have an interest.
  • Decide whether traveling overseas for surgery is an option you want to consider.
  • Evaluate options as to which country to go to, which surgeon to consult, and where to stay.

You’d still have a whole lot of e-mails, phone calls, planning, and worrying ahead of you, but between this book and the Web sites provided, you should be able to glean enough to make informed decisions. You might make a few new virtual friends, as well. In most countries — the United States included — any licensed medical doctor can legally perform many cosmetic procedures and surgeries.

Checking credentials and references is critical, whether your prospective surgeon is in the United States or abroad. When asked about a “south-of- the-border” cosmetic surgery disaster story one Mexican surgeon simply told me: “There are charlatans everywhere. The United States has them. We have them. People have to be careful.”

I have known people to make a decision to travel abroad for cosmetic surgery and/or dental care on as little as the advice of one good friend. I’ve known others who agonized over the decision for months, researching perhaps as much as I did to write this book before making up their minds. Most people fall somewhere in between.

The big Internet search sites are a paramount tool, of course. I prefer Google (www.google.com), more out of habit than any firm conviction that it is the best, and will cite examples of using Google for searching and other services. I have no relationship of any sort with Google that compels me to mention it or cite its usefulness; I am simply used to working with it. However, if you are more comfortable with other search engines, or prefer using multiple search engines, I can not say that you will have any less success. Use what works for you. I will have occasion to mention Yahoo (www.yahoo.com) and MSN (www.msn.com) as well.

You will be able to find updated links and information at the support site for this book, www.beautyfromafar.com. (Author’s Note: That’s clearly a little superfluous if you are reading this online, eh?)

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