Dangers of Plastic Surgery Abroad

Palm Trees by the beach

Travel to an exotic location, stay in a lush resort where staff are waiting on you hand and foot, and once you’ve recovered fully from your surgery, come home with larger breasts or a flatter tummy….  All of this for less than it would cost you to have plastic surgery in the United States.  If this sounds too good to be true, that’s probably because it is! 

Let’s face it; plastic surgery is not cheap, and you are paying out of pocket in most cases as cosmetic procedures are typically not covered by insurance.  This is the main reason why patients are pursuing plastic surgery abroad.  You can have the same procedure done for half the price (all while traveling!), but before you jump on the plane, consider the risks you might be taking.  

To begin, do you really know and trust the doctor that is operating on you and what their training, qualifications and certifications are?  When you have surgery in the United States with a surgeon closer to your home you have the ability to see them for a consultation prior to surgery.  This is a great way to “feel them out” and decide if you feel comfortable trusting them with your surgery and ultimately your life!  You have the opportunity to meet with them, discuss your concerns and what you are hoping to achieve cosmetically, they can explain the procedure to you and what to expect, and you get a feel for their bedside manner.  You can also ask them about their education, training, and certifications, etc. to ensure that they are fully qualified for the job.  You don’t really get the chance to do all of this when you have surgery abroad.  Often times you are meeting the surgeon for the first time right before you are wheeled back to the operating room for surgery. 

Speaking of the operating room…. Did you know that operating room and sanitation standards vary from country to country?  Some countries, especially those that are famous for offering cheap plastic surgery procedures, may not hold doctors, hospitals or surgery centers to the same rigorous standards for operating room cleanliness, staff qualification, safety protocols, and emergency readiness that we are used to in the U.S.  Some doctors even perform surgeries in their exam rooms (how sterile is that?!). This puts you at a greater risk for infection, wound healing problems, poor cosmetic results and other complications in a place that may not be fully equipped to treat these problems.

If you do encounter a problem during or immediately after surgery the cost of addressing the problem has just been added to your out of pocket expenses (In other words, the cheaper option might have just become the more expensive option).  Receiving the proper treatment may be difficult as well, as most doctors in these situations only plan on seeing the patient once after surgery.  The resort you are staying at may not have the staff or supplies to properly take care of the issue at hand either.  In an emergency situation you may find yourself at a foreign hospital.  Are you in a country that speaks English or another language you are familiar with?  If not, you might find yourself in a place where you are unable to fully communicate with the people taking care of you. 

Aside from the fact that going to the airport for some people is a stressful situation in itself, flying too soon after surgery can be dangerous.  Depending on what country you chose to have your surgery in, you might be facing a long flight home.  Sitting for extended periods of time after surgery can increase your risk for blood clots.  You will also be in a confined space with many other people for a prolonged period of time, who’s to say you won’t be sitting next to that person who is coughing and sneezing throughout the flight, exposing you to germs and a possible illness or infection?   Depending on what kind of surgery you had, you might find it very difficult to walk long distances through a crowded airport or get comfortable while sitting in a small airplane chair for an extended period of time as well.

Let’s say you make it back to the United States without any issues.  Did you know that post-operative wound infections may not be evident immediately after surgery?  If you do have a complication that occurs after the fact, they are generally more complex and difficult to treat.  Finding a provider in the United States that is willing to take on your case may be very challenging as well, especially when it comes to wound infections.  Since you had surgery in a foreign country, under sanitation conditions not known by doctors here, you may actually be infected with a microorganism we don’t commonly see in the United States, making it difficult to take care of.  One thing to consider before booking your surgery abroad is that many surgeons in the US offer insurance for any complications that arise during or after surgery, this is not routinely offered or available to patients when they travel abroad.  Again, the cheaper surgery option just became the more expensive option.

Plastic surgery is not cheap, and there is a reason for that!  Do yourself a favor, save a little longer for the procedure you want with the surgeon you want, or look into financing (there are so many great options available these days!), you will have peace of mind and your body will thank you later!

For more information about Plastic Surgery Abroad, check out the references below!

How to Stay Safe When Traveling for Cosmetic Surgery



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