The work of cosmetic surgery tourism II
Health workers and patients
in Beautyscapes
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This chapter discusses the work of nursing staff and surgeons in cosmetic surgery tourism. For surgeons, our research uncovered ambiguities surrounding professional standing and identity, and we explore how surgeons narrate their career trajectories and the pride they have for their work, as well as how they attempt to head off criticisms of their specialism. The discussion draws on sociological research on care work, body work, emotional labour and aesthetic labour. We discuss how surgeons negotiate an increasingly entrepreneurial role, showing how tensions emerge in their interactions with medical travel facilitators. We show how key moments such as the clinical consultation frame both doctors’ and patients’ understandings of surgery. The consultation is not simply about surgeons asserting their professional authority over ‘duped’ patients; instead, it is a negotiation towards a desired outcome for both parties. This leads us into a discussion of the forms of work that patients themselves undertake in cosmetic surgery tourism. Rather than passive recipients of others’ labours, patient-travellers work hard to accomplish their surgical journeys – and some later capitalise on this work by themselves becoming medical travel facilitators and guiding others through the same journeys.

Beautyscapes

Mapping cosmetic surgery tourism

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