5 Things to Consider Before Getting Plastic Surgery Abroad
In recent years, medical tourism has increased in popularity exponentially. On an international level, an estimated 14-16 million people travelled to other countries for medical/cosmetic procedures in 2017.[i] Shorter waitlists and lower costs are the top reasons why many patients seek surgeries outside of North America. The most frequented places for medical tourism are countries in the Caribbean, Eastern Asia and in Central/South America. While is it very possible to experience a successful and safe procedure overseas, undergoing a surgery in another country can increase the risk of complications. It is extremely important to do some very serious research, and ask yourself if going getting plastic surgery abroad is really the best idea. Consider the following before making your decision:
Is your surgeon accredited?
This goes without saying, you shouldn’t be visiting any surgeon that hasn’t been properly accredited or certified. There are many organizations such as the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery that guarantees your surgeon has received the proper training and certifications. Furthermore, these organizations ensure that standards are being maintained. Being board certified also assures that your surgeon can be held accountable should an issue arise. These organizations are also in place to protect the patients. Pursuing any type of recourse in another county may be difficult.
You get what you pay for.
The main draw with getting plastic surgery abroad is the lower price tag. However, is getting plastic surgery overseas really that much cheaper? In short, probably not. Taking a cheaper option when it comes to undergoing an invasive surgery might mean paying the price later. Plastic surgeons overseas often don’t provide proper post surgery care. Once you are out of the operating room, you may not be seen again by your surgeon, this means no follow up. If you are faced with complications, you may have to pay out of pocket. Once you are back in your home country, specifically in the US, many insurance companies won’t cover your health care. A study published in July 2017 calculated the average cost for treating complications from overseas procedures being over $18,000 per person.[ii]
What can your local surgeon offer you?
Depending on the type of procedure and level of invasiveness, the cost will vary. There is a reason why more invasive and riskier procedures are more costly. You should exhaust all your options at home before considering a procedure overseas. Doing your research before deciding on a surgeon ensures that not only is your surgeon qualified to perform the procedure, but also gives you an idea of what each clinic has to offer you as a patient. Certain fees associated with surgery cover insurance costs, should any complications arise. Some clinics offer pre and post-op support, follow up appointments, and video chats with clinic staff while you are recovering. Accommodations are at times offered to recovering patients giving them access to 24 hour medical care. These perks can make the world of difference, and may be worth the extra penny.
You may be putting yourself at unnecessary risk.
Travel on its own puts you at risk of being exposed to foreign germs and bacteria. Proceeding with a surgery overseas puts you at even greater risk of contracting infections and diseases. Regulations are different in other countries, some of which have little to no standards of practice. Many patients are faced with bacterial and E-coli infections, some of which are anti-biotic resistant. Some patients are forced to remove implants or undergo more surgery when returning home. Other patients face completely botched surgeries, as well as nerve and organ damage. While complications can arise wherever you are in the world, contracting a disease or infection at home presents a much smaller risk.
Traveling post op won’t be easy.
Life won’t be a beach, that’s for sure! In fact, you probably won’t be able to enjoy the beach at all. Many people think recovery will entail lounging by the poolside, drink in hand, but this won’t always be the case. You will most likely be in a great deal of pain, and discomfort. The next step is getting on a flight home. Travelling after an invasive surgery just isn’t safe. Blood clots pose risk during long periods of air travel in general, but patients travelling after surgery are at an increased risk. These clots could potentially travel through your blood stream to your lungs. While these cases are rare, if any sort of complication does occur mid voyage you will have little to no medical care available. Should anything happen on your way home, you may be responsible to pay for extensive medical bills upon your return.