The journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery — Global Open recently released a report “Impact of Medical Tourism on Cosmetic Surgery in the United States” highlighting the real issue cosmetic and surgery patients are facing in relation to medical tourism.

How Far Are Surgeries Increasing?

The exact number of plastic surgery cases is hard to pinpoint due to differing medical tourism definitions, lack of patient reporting and an overall secrecy surrounding the subject.

The journal estimates that more than 8 million U.S. citizens traveled abroad for some form of healthcare in 2013, an increase of 50,000 since 2007.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that the medical tourism field will continue to increase in size thanks to the internet, the rising costs of procedures stateside and not enough patient safety information.

Is It Safe to Have Surgery Abroad?

Although not every foreign hospital you visit will be a breeding ground for disease or shoddy surgeries, patients should be aware that they may not be the best places to have work done.

Cosmetic surgery, no matter how big or small the procedure is a real procedure and should be treated as such. Each one a patient may undergo has a list of risks and benefits. Although many think the benefits outweigh the risk, both should be taken into account before a decision is made.

What to Know Before You Have Surgery Abroad

Some common important questions and considerations to take into account include:

  • Checking before and after pictures on their website
  • How long has your facility been performing this type of surgery? How many have you personally performed?
  • What are the known complications and possible complications? What will happen if one of these arises while I am in your care?
  • What happens if a complication arises when I am back in the states?

Although patients have been known to save thousands of dollars on surgeries outside the U.S., a recent string of medical tourism-related deaths highlights the need for more transparency and education on these types of procedures.

The CDC has created The Joint Commission International, the international division of the Joint Commission Resources, a U.S.-based, not-for-profit affiliate of the joint commission that certifies health care facilities in the United States. Searching this site for your known destination can also help ease some fears and possible risk of complications. This checklist from the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery may also be helpful when traveling overseas.

How Can I Avoid Problems with Surgery Overseas?

One of the best ways to avoid the problems associated with medical tourism is not leaving the country for a procedure in the first place. Although the prices and tropical climate may be tempting, knowing you can return home for the rest you need the day of surgery is also a comforting thought.

This also allows for plenty of time between consultations and surgery meetings to change the course of action, discuss other treatment plans and go over aftercare again, as this is one of the most important parts of a plastic surgery procedure.

Visit The Lett Center for Plastic Surgery in Mt. Juliet or Lebanon, TN

You don’t have to make expensive travel plans to see a qualified and highly skilled plastic surgeon in Tennessee. Dr. Lett is a board-certified plastic surgeon and has been performing plastic surgery through his Lebanon and Mt Juliet med spa locations for years.

If you are considering having a procedure done, contact Dr. Lett at for more information.