Thailand has long been recognized as a surgical destination for Trans* people the world over. Some of the top surgeons operate out of cities like Bangkok and Phucket. Surgeons like Dr. Suporn Watanyusakul, a pioneer in Gender Confirmation Surgery, Dr.Chettawut Tulayaphanich, a protege of Suporn’s who is said to have improved upon his technique.
Thai surgeons, Suporn in particular, have pioneered a surgical technique very different from the standard and often used “Penile-Inversion.” They use what is called a “Non-inversion” technique which involves tissue harvested from the scrotum, the inner thighs if more donor material is needed. The glans penis used to make sensate clitoris and scrotal tissue is used for the labia minora. The results are said to be very aesthetically pleasing but the recovery time is longer and harder given how much more invasive the procedure practiced by Thai surgeons is.
Cheaper prices tend to attract people unable to cover the tens of thousands of dollars charged by surgeons in the US or Canada but the savings is somewhat offset by the longer travel time for patients from abroad and their technique, unique at this time to Thailand surgeons has a longer recovery time.
At this time very few surgeons in the US accept insurance and of those, only one is willing to bill in network. The rest will only accept payments up front and reimburse at the rate they are able to negotiate with the insurance company; few of which cover GCS at this time.
Until such time as more insurance companies are willing to cover surgery costs, and more surgeons will accept it; traveling to Thailand is a very attractive offer for many patients from North America. SRS in American tends to cost, on average, $20,000. In comparison Dr. Chett charges around $10,000 USD.
There are signs that insurance is starting to bend on covering Gender Surgery. For example, Aetna added surgery to its list of covered procedures this year. Sadly this is offset by the lack of surgeons in the United States willing to work with insurance or attempt to bill as in network. Until such time as more insurance companies are willing to cover surgery and more surgeons will accept it traveling to Thailand is an attractive offer for many patients from North America.