It is highly likely that the same operation would have cost half of that sum, perhaps less.

A quick search of Google (other search engines are available), will reveal that there is a lot of competition from private EU hospitals, offering substantial savings on elective surgery. Why choose Portugal?

If you are going to start with an internet search, prepare for confusion, there are quite literally hundreds of private hospitals and clinics throughout the EU. Obviously, they are all of a very high standard, but choosing could be a challenge.

Why consider Portugal?

In recent years, especially in the Algarve, the private hospitals have developed extensively, and to a very high standard. As the national health service, which is very good, but not fast for elective surgery, this has created a demand for private health care. Add to that, the cost of private medical insurance is relatively low compared with northern Europe. The private hospital network has grown fast to meet the demand.

Most of these hospitals are modern, high tech and equipped with the very latest technology. Portuguese doctors and surgeons are highly trained and extremely skilled.

I recently needed surgery on my hand. This was performed by a Lisbon plastic surgeon at the HPA Alvor hospital, (apparently, plastic surgeons are the best with hands), and despite this being a three-hour operation, all carried out under local anaesthetic, I was back home at the end of the day. Totally painless, and no after effects. Impressive.

The Alvor hospital now offer an adjacent hotel, Longevity Health & Wellness Hotel for extended health and Beauty treatments as well as on going accommodation during recovery. Recovering in the sun sounds a very attractive idea.

Spoilt for choice

In the Algarve there are three private hospital groups. The largest is the HPA (Algarve Private Hospitals) who have the advantage of their largest and most modern hospital a mere five minutes from Faro Airport. If you are flying in for surgery, this unit is a natural choice. Built and inaugurated in 2009, the Hospital Particular in Gambelas offers an extensive range of private rooms and suites. They offer a wide range of specialities from cancer treatment to heart surgery and orthopaedics. They do offer a dedicated email for international clients,

Obviously, no hospital will give you an ‘over the phone’ estimate of the costs and fees for the operation you are looking for, but this is the best starting point. English seems to be spoken by everybody, from, reception staff, nurses and the doctors. Language won’t be a problem.

From what I have been able to discover, if you are looking for elective surgery, Portuguese private hospitals will be highly competitive in comparison to northern Europe. There will be no compromise in standards of care or treatment.

Plastic surgery

Plastic surgery is growing in demand. Countries like Brazil, Turkey, Istanbul, Mexico, Spain, India, and many others are marketing lower cost plastic surgery. Portugal has more recently gained attention for its plastic surgeons. A quick internet search for ‘plastic surgery Portugal’ will reveal extensive selection of clinics, over twenty at the last count.

Who to choose would be a ‘minefield’ for anyone, but personal recommendation has to be a very good start. Otherwise go for a well established private hospital with a high reputation.

The Portugal News interviewed one of Portugal’s leading plastic surgeons, Dr. Tiago Baptista Fernandes in April, which potential clients for plastic surgery may find helpful.

Lisbon and Porto

Lisbon and Porto also have some world class private hospitals, offering every type of surgery and treatment. Although not on offer to health tourists, one or two of the public hospitals are performing revolutionary operations. The husband of a staff member had his stomach cancer treated in Porto by the removal of his stomach, very successful and one year later, clear of what was thought to be an untreatable cancer.

In Lisbon and Porto the best known group is CUF, who have 18 hospitals and clinics. They have been established in private health care for over 75 years and have a very good reputation for their treatments and specialities.

World leading health care, and recover in the sun

There is little question that compared with northern Europe, Portugal is a choice that anyone looking at elective surgery should consider. Make a few enquiries and get estimated costs and waiting times, usually available in a time scale to meet your requirements.

Flight times from northern Europe are less than three hours and air fares are very competitive. Most of the hospitals have accommodation available for relatives who may wish to accompany you.

An enquiry costs nothing and you may be very pleasantly surprised at what’s on offer. Although very competitively priced (compared to Northern Europe), there will be no compromise in terms of treatment and care.


Resident in Portugal for 50 years, publishing and writing about Portugal since 1977. Privileged to have seen, firsthand, Portugal progress from a dictatorship (1974) into a stable democracy. 

Paul Luckman