Blog, Cosmetic surgery

The risks of having plastic surgery overseas

There has been a lot of discussion about medical tourism lately, particularly when procedures go wrong or a death occurs. Medical tourism involves people travelling to other countries, often within Europe or Asia, to receive cosmetic surgery. This is often seen as appealing as the cost can be far cheaper than what is offered in the United Kingdom, and at the same time, you can enjoy a holiday in a foreign country. 

However, medical tourism isn’t that straightforward. There are numerous risks to consider before you decide to head to another country to have any procedure. So what are the risks? 

1. Is it actually cheaper? 

Going overseas for cosmetic surgery can initially appear to be an attractive option because of the cheaper cost of surgery. Why bother paying double the price for a procedure in London when you can go on holidays and save money, right? This isn’t necessarily always the case. A study published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery followed patients in the United States who had treatment overseas. They found that as a result of complications, the average person spent $18,000 (£13,950). 

The initial cheap price that overseas clinics advertise may not necessarily be the full cost you end up paying. Clinics in the United Kingdom will often include everything within their initial quoted price. Clinics in other countries may not include the cost of an anaesthetist, the aftercare cost or include any warranties, which is commonly offered for breast augmentation. Once you pay for these extra costs, it can end up costing you more. It is important to make sure you have the correct travel insurance that will cover any additional costs you may find yourself needing to pay.

2. Does the cost include aftercare? 

At London Lipo Institute, our quoted prices include the cost of lifetime aftercare. This means in the rare instance that something goes wrong or you’re unsure about something, you are able to return to the clinic and visit the same surgeon who performed the initial procedure. 

You cannot guarantee the same level of care when you visit a foreign country. Many people will not want to stay in the country for a long period of time following the procedure, and will instead return home. If complications occur once you have returned home, you have to try and return to the surgeon who originally performed the procedure, or see a surgeon in your home country. Cosmetic surgeons in the United Kingdom will often refuse to see patients who require corrective surgery after having a procedure in another country. If a follow-up procedure is required, extra money will need to be paid for a consultation, as the surgeon will be analysing another surgeon’s work. You will also then need to pay for the corrective surgery. 

3. What do you know about the surgeon? 

How much do you actually know about the surgeon that is going to perform your procedure? Before having any procedure, make sure:

You meet the surgeon: during your initial consultation, many clinics will have you meet with a sales representative rather than the actual surgeon. This means you never meet the surgeon until the day of your procedure. 

You know about their experience: a good surgeon will be able to show you before and after photographs of your procedure or will have an extensive history with the procedure. It is often a good idea to search your surgeon online; most surgeons will have reviews and information about them and their career publicly available. 

You know what their qualifications are: some countries do not have stringent laws when it comes to who can perform cosmetic procedures. Prior to having any surgical or non-surgical cosmetic procedure, it is important to ensure your doctor has the correct qualifications. Otherwise, you may have someone who is under-qualified performing your surgery, and the likelihood of risks occurring increases.

You know where the surgery is going to be completed: if you are having surgery, make sure it is being done in an area which is certified to carry out surgical procedures. If you feel as if the clinic is unsafe or unhygienic, do not go ahead with the procedure. Unhygienic conditions of a room or surgical equipment can cause potential problems and negative side effects. 

4. Do they speak English? 

One of the risks of travelling to countries that speak a language other than English is the communication barrier. If you do not speak the language of the country you are travelling to, make sure are able to speak with the surgeon and the staff at the clinic. Many people who travel abroad for cosmetic surgery find they are often dismissed quickly following the procedure and are unable to find a staff member who speaks English to listen to their concerns. Make sure you are able to communicate all your questions and concerns, and you have heard all of the risks before going ahead with any procedure. 

5. How long do you have to wait before you can fly again? 

People who travel abroad for surgery are often very keen to return home as soon as possible after the procedure. However, you will often need to follow specific recovery advice in order to avoid complications occurring. This includes sleeping or sitting in certain positions – for example, you are unable to sit down after having a Brazilian Butt Lift.  You would then have to wait until the recovery period is over before being able to fly home. 

After surgery, you will need to ensure you can get up and walk around to avoid the risk of blood clots occurring. Keep in mind whether or not you will be able to do this before booking any flights, or long train, bus or car trips home.

Make sure you consider all the risks before you decide to travel overseas for a procedure, or else you could find yourself having complications and spending more than you would have in your home county.