National healthcare rhetoric beyond the nation: The materiality of narrative in cosmetic surgery tourism

Debra Gimlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines the narrative strategies employed by US and UK plastic surgeons’ associations to discredit the practice of aesthetic tourism. Cosmetic surgery tourism, one of a broad set of activities involving travel for medical care, represents a growing marketplace and, thus, a significant professional threat to aesthetic/plastic surgeons practising ‘at home’. Drawing from an analysis of five associations’ websites, I argue that their claims about aesthetic tourism’s dangers reflect the same repertoires of evaluation – that is, lines of argumentation deemed credible within particular national settings – employed by American and British consumers of cosmetic surgery to defend their actions as ‘deserved’ and ‘legitimate’. While evaluative repertoires are grounded in material conditions, those conditions allow for flexibility in their implementation. When US and UK physicians’ associations employ the narrative strategies made available by their own nation, they do so in ways that present cosmetic surgery – when conducted abroad – as ‘undeserved’ and ‘illegitimate’
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)302-318
Number of pages17
JournalTourist Studies
Issue number3
Early online date28 May 2014
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014



  • tourist studies
  • cosmetic surgery
  • medical tourism
  • culture
  • narrative

Cite this