Case Study: Understanding Global Consumer Behavior in Aesthetic Surgery


Aesthetic or cosmetic surgery has emerged to be a multibillion industry in the recent years. The same is the case with the branch of marketing industry that relies on marketing aesthetics. Research has indicated that self-confidence is positively correlated with post aesthetic surgery confidence level (Rustemeyer & Gregersen, 2012).  This fact adds to the importance of the aesthetic surgeries and the desire to make a change in the physical appearance to gain confidence in one’s self. The case study is related to different aspects of aesthetic surgery and its implications. The case study also provides a detailed overview of what is the role of the aesthetic surgeons not only in conducting the surgery, but also I marketing aesthetic procedures in the consumer’s market. The case also shed light on the aesthetic surgery as a global industry. And the ethical issues that need to be considered while conducting medical procedures in general and cosmetic surgeries in particular. I have divided this paper into different sections in which I would like to discuss aesthetic surgery from different angles. Aesthetic surgery is a growing industry and the expansion of this industry is dependent on the behaviors of the doctors and the consumers who opt to hire the services of these doctors.

Can medicine and doctors be included in a discussion of marketing? How? What are the marketing tools?

We live in a diverse world. Consumer marketing has become a huge business. Each and every business needs to advertise its products and services to the consumers. The field of medicine is no exception. When it comes to human aesthetics, it marketing is not purely medicinal, it is also related to the life style. For example medical spas are advertised by highlighting its medical benefits as well its recreational benefits (Sadick, Dinkes & Oskin, 2008). I do think that doctors and the medicines they offer should be included in marketing so that the consumers are well educated about these issues. Having said that, there are marketing ethics that apply to the field of medicine that must be followed.

Different marketing platforms can be utilized to market while involving the doctors and the medicines. Televised advertisement is one form of marketing that can be use in my opinion. Though I do not agree to its utility from a consumer’s perspective as this is a one way traffic and the doctors and other advertisers may not be properly quoting researches in the field of cosmetic surgery when emphasizing on the procedures they are advertising. In my opinion internet and the social media in specific is one of the best platform for such kind of advertisement. This would provide an opportunity for the consumers to discuss different medicines and procedures with the health professional i.e. cosmetic surgeons who are the part of the advertisement campaigns. Specific inquiries can be directed at them from the consumers. I think that this practice would not only be beneficial for the consumers but also for the surgeons who are advertising their services. They would be able to collect information about their patients’ needs and preferences and use it to bring positive changes in their practices.

Online medical journals can also be used as marketing tools. Though these journals may require real researches conducted using scientific tools. Medical practitioners who collect and save data from their patients on regular basis can convert this data into medical articles and submit in these journals to be reviewed and published. These articles can add to the confidence of the consumers while planning to hire the services of competent medical practitioners. These journals can also help patients get useful information about cosmetic surgeries even if they are not yet planning a surgery.

Who are the global patient–consumers of aesthetic surgery? What is their consumer behavior? What are the cultural similarities and differences?

People who travel abroad to receive medical procedures such as different kinds of cosmetic surgeries are called global patients or consumers of aesthetic surgeries. There are different factors that may influence the behavior of these consumers. First is the behavior of these consumers related to self-concept which according to Hattie (2014), is related to what one things of one’s self in the present and what he/she would like to be in the future. These patients or consumers want to be different looking in the future. Some of these consumers have problems with their lips, some like to have different hair and some are not satisfied with their breast size.

Apart from the above reason, these patients also have different financial preferences. For example they budget their surgeries. In their home countries, they may not be able to spend afford their planned cosmetic surgeries in their allocated budget. Therefore, they plan to go abroad. These patients may also have specific destination or cosmetic surgeon preferences, therefore, they might opt to travel abroad to get the desired services.

People from different cultures may have different approached to cosmetic surgeries and the countries or medical practitioners they acquire these services from. For example different people may have different incomes and therefore would look for different places to conduct their surgeries.

How is tourism defined in terms of a global phenomenon in the context of aesthetic surgery?

Aesthetic surgery has become a great tool that is utilized by tourism industry in different countries. These tourism companies may sign contracts with medical practitioners and offer packages that include travelling, hoteling and cosmetic procedures. The only big issues that has been identified with medical tourism in general is the fact that there are post-surgery complications reported. For example aesthetic dissatisfaction is one of the patient’s complication that needs the consultancy of the same medical practitioner who performed the procedure while the patient has already moved to his/her home country (Klein, Simic, Fuchs, Schweizer, et al., 2016). This issues need to be carefully considered before a travel abroad is planned for a cosmetic procedure.

What are the ethical issues concerning medical marketing?

Due to a rapid expansions of the aesthetic surgery industry, there is a possibility that the ethical boundaries of this medical field are not yet specifically defined (Gupta, 2012). In my opinion, there is a greater need for every medical practitioner and marketer to follow the general medical ethics with a focus on its implications in the field of aesthetics. People who want to undergo aesthetic surgeries may be more vulnerable than those who are not due to the fact that these people may not happy with the way they look. Therefore it is the responsibility of the marketer to be ethical when advertising their services and not exaggerate their results. The medical practitioners also need to provide objective opinion to such patients and not always go for the money while not considering the results and amount of change (positive or negative) that is predicted in the physical appearance of the patients.


Aesthetic surgeries are helping people in getting near to a desired physical appearance. But there are also complications associated with these surgeries. I think that the people who want to get these kinds of surgeries should do an objective analysis of themselves and seek professional psychological and medical help before finally deciding a surgery. After they have made a decision to undergo a surgery, it is important for the cosmetic surgeons to not just rip them off their money but also provide pre and post-surgery assistance.





Gupta, S. (2012). Ethical and legal issues in aesthetic surgery. Indian journal of plastic surgery:    official publication of the Association of Plastic Surgeons of India45(3), 547.

Hattie, J. (2014). Self-concept. Psychology Press.

Klein, H. J., Simic, D., Fuchs, N., Schweizer, R., Mehra, T., Giovanoli, P., & Plock, J. A. (2016).             Complications After Cosmetic Surgery Tourism. Aesthetic Surgery Journal, sjw198

Rustemeyer, J., & Gregersen, J. (2012). Quality of life in orthognathic surgery patients: post-        surgical improvements in aesthetics and self-confidence. Journal of Cranio-Maxillofacial    Surgery40(5), 400-404.

Sadick, N. S., Dinkes, A., & Oskin, L. (2008). Medical spa marketing. Dermatologic         clinics26(3), 391-401.