International Surgery Hotspots

The most searched countries for medical tourism

Henry Man

Mar 8, 2024

The global medical tourism industry is worth around AU$55 billion per year – and is quickly increasing.1

While travelling overseas for medical surgeries may be seen as an option to save money, it may come with its own health and financial risks. As experts in understanding private health insurance in Australia, we see the benefits of receiving medical treatment from local medical professionals that are proven to be reliable, credible and safe in accordance with Australian health standards.

Despite this, we recognise that there remains a sizeable portion of the population that opt to receive medical care overseas. That’s why we have investigated the online search volume of 18 countries to uncover which are the international surgery hotspots.

International surgery hotspots globe heatmap

Most searched medical tourism countries

Top 3 most searched medical tourism countries

Breaking it down: Top international surgery countries

Of the 18 sample countries studied, Türkiye received the most interest in cosmetic (21,590/month) and dental tourism (6,760/month) procedures.

Meanwhile, India attracted the greatest number of online searches for organ-related tourism surgeries, including kidney, liver and lung transplants (480/month).

Australia is also among the top for medical tourism interest – ranking sixth for cosmetic surgery searches (1,670/month), fourth for organ surgeries (110/month), and seventh for dental-related surgeries (460/month). 

Business person at airport with suitcase

Global search volume by surgery category

RankCountryCosmetic Surgery (avg. searches per month)Organ Surgery (avg. searches per month)Dental Surgery (avg. searches per month)
3South Korea5,4300450
4United Kingdom3,270110810
11New Zealand40040300
14South Africa40020130
16United States130010

Do you need to travel internationally for surgery? 

Our research has highlighted strong interest in travelling overseas for medical surgeries, with a lower cost being one of the main reasons, according to the Australian Government.2

However, Compare the Market’s Executive General Manager of Health Steven Spicer said having private health insurance could be more convenient and cost-effective.

“In Australia, you have the peace of mind of knowing you can access a medical professional that is registered and qualified under the Australian health standards. The Australian private health insurance system offers the convenience of choosing your own available doctor, choice of a suitable hospital and faster access to the treatment,” Mr Spicer said.

“Some of the treatments that people commonly travel overseas for can often be included on a private health insurance policy in Australia, where the treatment is medically necessary in-hospital treatment.

“But not all insurance policies provide the same level of cover and for the same price, so it pays to compare to find a policy that suits your individual needs.”

Methodology & Sources 

Data is accurate as of 17 January 2024.

Using the Ahrefs Keywords Explorer, we analysed the average monthly search volume of 40 cosmetic, organ, and dental-related treatments across 18 countries.

To identify the most common procedures, we referenced the Australian Government, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and a 2022 study by the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

The keywords analysed were in English in the following format: [surgery type] [country]. Surgery type keywords include:

  • Cosmetic surgery: cosmetic; plastic; brow lift; ear; eyelid; face lift; facial bone; fat grafting; lip enhancement; neck lift; rhinoplasty; breast augmentation; breast implant removal; breast lift; breast reduction; gynecomastia; abdominoplasty; buttock augmentation; buttock lift; liposuction; lower body lift; thigh lift; upper arm lift; upper body lift; labiaplasty; vaginal rejuvenation; weight loss
  • Organ surgery: heart transplant; kidney transplant; liver transplant; lung transplant; pancreas transplant; intestine transplant
  • Dental surgery: dental; tooth extraction; wisdom tooth removal; braces; orthodontics; dental implants; jaw surgery; root canal

Additional sources:

  1. Better Health Channel, Victorian Government – Medical tourism and insurance
  2. Smartraveller, Australian Government – Medical Tourism

Note: The data referenced in this story excludes the particular focus country to highlight international search volume only.

For Türkiye, we analysed search volume using the term ‘Turkey’ instead of the newer post-2021 ‘Türkiye’ name as the change was recent and there was more traffic data available.