More medical services…Dermatologist visit

This is just a quick post about another of the medical services available in Chiang Mai.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I am generally quite satisfied with the medical care in Canada, but they just do some things really well here. Peter and I wanted to get our skins checked by a dermatologist for sun damage.  I had tried to do that before I left, but couldn’t get an appointment.  My nurse practitioner told me to email her in a few months so she could get me in after we returned.


I got the name of a dermatologist last night  from a friend in the building.  The doctor is Thai, but trained in Boston for 3 years so came recommended as a capable English speaker as well as a good dermatologist. She works at a new skin clinic at Chiangmai Ram Hospital, about 2.5 km from here.

I filled out the appointment request on line when I woke up this morning.  Within 30 minutes the office phoned and offered us an appointment at 10:15 today.  I gave our names, birthdates and nationality.


We got a ride to the hospital and were met at the door by a woman in a suit and heels.  She was the greeter.  When we told her we were looking for the skin clinic she told us it was in another building and to wait in a seat.  Within  3-4 minutes a golf cart shuttle arrived to drive us to the new clinic.


The nurses, who still wear uniforms and white hats with a black stripe, met us as we arrived.  We completed information sheets that included our address here as well as at home.  They asked if we needed a receipt for insurance purposes.  This clinic is obviously used to dealing with medical tourism.

We were called in to have vitals taken-weight, height, temperature,blood pressure and blood oxygen.  After about 15 minutes we took our turn with the doctor.


After a complete check from head to toe, most of the growths are attributed to aging.  She asked him about any serious sunburns to his face, which he had when high altitude climbing. He did have a couple of spots of sun damage on his face. She removed them immediately with liquid nitrogen and assured him that they would heal easily and the damage was gone.  She reminded him to use sun screen on the beach but that a hat with a big brim was the most helpful thing in the city.


I was also checked thoroughly from top to bottom.  Any spots that I obviously knew about, she reassured me that they were normal, without even asking.  She let me know that the scrape on my knee from November could take 6 months before the color disappears.  This getting older sure has lots of unexpected side effects.  The rest of me was fine.  Since I had a suspicious mole removed a few years ago, she recommended getting checked again in 6 months.  I guess I’ll have to get back to Chiang Mai in time for my next appointment.  She also gave me a couple of sunscreen samples to try.


We had heard that the cost was reasonable but we weren’t sure.  We just hoped that Alberta Health Care might cover the cost of what it would be at home.  Here are our bills:

Wendy  Doctor fee  $30.38

nurse and office fee  $4.69

total $35.07

Peter  Doctor fee with procedure $38.22

nurse and office fee  $4.69

liquid nitrogen $11.47

Total $54.38

We were out the door by 11:00 am, reassured, treated and enough money left for a coffee at Starbucks.



6 thoughts on “More medical services…Dermatologist visit

    1. Wendy Davies

      Thanks for your comment. Take a look on the web site at the comments added by Dr Robert Mast. He is a dentist friend of ours from Red Deer. He has some interesting thoughts to share.

  1. Melissa

    Good to see even Dad’s buying in to check ups. Dentists next? Or their services are privatized enough that they are suitable in Canada :)?

  2. Robert Mast

    Thanks for that Wendy! I would also like to see our medical services/systems changed, but our costs are much higher here than there. We have higher costs for equipment (we subsidize the lower costs there), labour, buildings, achieving government standards (with sterilization, building codes, equipment codes, etc.).
    A couple of years ago at a conference, I found out that the dental implants I purchased here for almost $500 each, were being sold in Brazil for $99 or less. I asked a Brazilian dentist what her failure rate was with dental implants (she said she places up to 100/month) and she said “at least a third”. If that was my failure rate, I would have several law suits against me and would probably lose my license.
    Now there are good and bad “practitioners” both here and there, but the legal and ethical standards are very different! In most parts of the world it’s consumer beware, but I’m ethically and legally not permitted to practice that way. Both the government and the suppliers/manufacturers know that and we pay a lot extra as a consumer, and our standards of safety are in general much higher.

    1. Wendy Davies

      Thanks for sharing another perspective on this issue of medical tourism. There are so many things here that are consumer beware. Windows and railings are low. Sidewalks are filled with holes and bumps. There are no CSA, or anyone else, approved stickers on anything including motor bike helmets. The cost of living is less here, but the wages earned by most people is also very low. It is not really fair to compare the quality of service from one place to another when, as you said, the ethics are so different.


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