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Considering Cosmetic Surgery Tourism?

Although potentially cheaper options do exist for patients seeking cosmetic surgery abroad, that option comes with some risks and drawbacks, most of which are invisible to a patient until after the surgery has happened.

The 9 points below can advise you about the hazards inherent in cosmetic surgery tourism.

  1. Quality of Care

While not always the case, patients who undergo surgery in foreign countries might not experience the standards they are accustomed to here in the US. Not only may some facilities lack accreditation, but the surgeons may not have the same level of training and experience as an American board certified plastic surgeon. Since it’s unlikely that you would initially travel to a foreign country for your consultation, how would you evaluate these issues from a distance?

  1. Safety Issues

Because cosmetic surgery is surgery—and carries inherent risks such as blood clots, adverse reactions to anesthesia and/or infection—patients may experience added risks simply due to differences in regulations, hygiene standards and postop practices.

  1. Communication Can Hamper Results

Unless you speak the language, barriers will exist, even among international plastic surgery practices in which many employees speak English. This can lead to misunderstandings, which can potentially lead to unexpected results.

  1. Risks Created by Air Travel

Most foreign surgery patients travel to their destinations via air and, since many of these destinations are far away, the risk of complications such as deep vein thrombosis (blood clots) and pulmonary embolism are enhanced, as a result of long hours in an airplane, especially in older patients. Furthermore, patients that experience these problems may have a difficult recovery from surgery when far away from family and familiar surroundings, not to mention the above-mentioned communication challenges.

  1. Follow Up Care May Not Be Sufficient—or Even Available

Patients can struggle to receive adequate postop care when they elect cosmetic surgery abroad. An extended stay in-country adds to the expense that the patient wished to avoid in the first place but Zoom and similar options cannot compensate for an in-person postop visit with the surgeon, particularly if there are unexpected results.

  1. Ethical and Legal Concerns

If things go wrong, what recourse do you have? Legal regulations and options governing medical tourism and plastic surgery care differ among countries, meaning that, if you’re unhappy with your results, you may find it impossible to receive resolution.

  1. Cultural Differences

Because ideas about beauty vary between countries, patients sometimes discover that their surgical team does not line in up with the patient’s goals, which can lead to frustration and the possibility of disagreement about the intended results.

  1. Hidden Expenses

Although foreign cosmetic surgery is cheaper on the surface, expenses for travel, hotel, meals, postop care (including a caregiver if needed), and the potential for treatment of complications or dissatisfaction with results that requires revision surgery can add to the cost. Patients considering cosmetic surgery tourism would be wise to add up those costs prior to booking.

  1. Stress and Anxiety

Having a cosmetic surgery procedure here in the US comes with concerns and anxiety, both of which are normal. When you add in the stress of travel, foreign language issues and feelings of isolation when away from known family and surroundings, you may find it’s not worth the perceived savings.

The Bottom Line

Undergoing any surgery has a certain level of risk. Adding the potential issues illuminated above can result in various negative outcomes financially and emotionally and can even result in undesirable results. While there are highly qualified plastic surgeons around the world, when you think about the factors above, why not select a board certified plastic surgeon here in the US?




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