Plastic surgery has evolved, removing much of its stigma and cost. In the past, patients would look to different countries to find plastic surgery to find a deal and privacy. Plastic surgery tourism, or medical tourism, can be risky, and patients have begun to stop looking out of the United States for their treatment. Plastic surgery can come with a slew of hidden costs and consequences when a patient chooses price over the surgeon’s reputation.
Why Would Someone Consider Cosmetic Surgery Abroad?
Cosmetic surgery isn’t covered under insurance, and it can be costly. This cost is a primary reason someone would look outside the United States for a medical procedure. Companies also market their services as a vacation package to entice buyers. Often, the procedure and vacation package will cost less than a US procedure. The offers will also claim to have highly trained or credentialed medical surgeons.
Another reason someone might consider traveling abroad for cosmetic surgery is to hide their procedure as a vacation. In the past, plastic surgery came with a lot of stigma surrounding it. Claiming to take a vacation and have pictures to prove it may sound like the perfect plan to some to hide their procedure.
Dangers of Cosmetic Surgery Tourism
Cheaper usually does not translate to better, and that is especially true for medical procedures. Much can go wrong when choosing your doctor based on getting a deal. Combining a vacation and a surgery should not go together, and doing so exposes you to real risks.
It can be hard to determine the qualifications of a doctor outside the US. In the US, you can review your doctor’s certifications and training and truly understand the level of care they represent. The American Board of Medical Specialties and The American Society of Plastic Surgeons can help you to choose qualified doctors based on medical specialty and a proven health care record. In other countries, their standards may be different for care and practices.
Complications and Follow Up Care
Cosmetic surgery is invasive, and with many factors affecting recovery, it is smart to be close to your doctor to mitigate risks. Breast implants, liposuction, and reconstructive surgery are just a few procedures that have more involved recoveries. Doctors should set up periodic check-ins to ensure you are healing correctly. If you can’t stay out of the country until you are healed, your follow up care can suffer. In the event revisions are needed, a new doctor won’t know the exact techniques used by the previous doctor, making the surgery more complicated and final results less than desirable. The bargain your original surgery may have been will not be worth it if costly revisions are needed.
Travel Dangers in Cosmetic Surgery
Travel itself can create a dangerous situation for someone who has undergone surgery. Long flights and sitting for long periods can increase the risk of blood clots and pulmonary embolism. Swelling can occur, and even infections. During operation, small pockets of air can be leftover inside the body. The high altitudes of a flight cause gas to expand, and this can be incredibly uncomfortable, and in some cases, life-threatening. Depending on the type of surgery, like a breast augmentation surgery, you should not lift heavy items. Carrying luggage could damage your results in many areas of the body. Cosmetic surgery is significant, and traveling can add additional strain on a body trying to heal.
Depending on the country you select, communication with your surgeon and medical staff may be a challenge. If the doctor doesn’t speak English fluently, you may run into issues describing the results you desire. During recovery, you may not understand the steps of your aftercare and follow up needs. Miscommunication can lead to costly and painful complications resulting from an out of country cosmetic surgery.
Device and Product Standards
In another country, the devices and products surgeons use may not be up to USA standards. Doctors in the states use products that have been tested and deemed safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In the US, if you were to get a breast implant, the product used would be tested for safety and approved by the FDA. Other countries may not have these regulations and could be using untested, unsafe, or recalled cosmetic enhancement products.
Facility Qualifications and Cleanliness
Beyond your doctor’s surgical qualifications, anesthesia, sterile techniques, and proper training of staff can play a role in the safety of an out of state procedure. Anesthesia can be very dangerous, even deadly if the anesthesiologist is not experienced and trained properly. In the US, you can verify the cleanliness of a facility with ratings and accreditations. Out of the country, many facilities are privately owned, and it is difficult or impossible to check for credentials on cleanliness or staff training.
When getting a cosmetic procedure outside of the United States, you have limited to no legal protection if medical malpractice occurs. “When a doctor commits malpractice overseas, in most instances it will not be possible to obtain jurisdiction to sue the doctor” – NMR Trial Attorneys. In rare cases, the doctor may hold contracts that allow them to be sued by a United States citizen, but that is not the norm. It is important to consider your health and safety over choosing a doctor for a bargain outside of the US.
While traveling for a cosmetic procedure might seem tempting, we advise patients against that route. The Lett Center and many other facilities local to Nashville can provide you with board certified surgeons, accredited facilities and staff, reviews and ratings you can trust, and legal protection for your health. Doing your research to pick a talented and qualified doctor is an absolute must to ensure you get the results you desire. Contact The Lett Center in Mt. Juliet and Lebanon to schedule a consultation and meet with our board certified plastic surgeon and medical staff in person. We provide excellent plastic surgery and aesthetic services using experienced doctors and innovative techniques.