In recent years, we've heard much about Americans traveling abroad to have cosmetic medical procedures. Surgical tourism is becoming increasingly popular for individuals who are looking for less expensive medical care than can be provided by American physicians. While going outside the country for surgery may seem like a fun vacation, the safety of such actions has not yet been determined.
In a article published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery – Global Open, Dr. Kevin Chung and Lauren Franzblau of the University of Michigan explore how medical tourism affects patients and American plastic surgeons.
While the authors made no absolute judgments about whether or not medical tourism is a good idea, they did note that the reasons behind it are somewhat troubling.
"The rapid globalization of the industry also marks a fundamental shift in the world's perception of elective procedures," wrote Chung and Franzblau. "Patients are becoming consumers and these medical services are being viewed as commodities."
On the surface, a surgical procedure performed abroad will most likely be cheaper than the same one offered in the United States. But it's important for a patient to understand what they are paying for. The cost of a surgery includes not just a procedure, but the expertise of a board certified plastic surgeon and his staff, a sterile medical facility and, most importantly, the peace of mind knowing that you have accessible follow-up care should a problem arise.
Many countries claim that medical procedures performed there are on par with what is available in the United States, but they do not have the regulations in place to support these assertions.