Plastic Surgery Abroad

Last Updated: April 20, 2012

With the rising demand and the rising cost of plastic surgery, many consumers have turned to cosmetic & plastic surgery abroad to meet their plastic surgery wishes. Hospitals in exotic locations offer potential patients travel packages that include resort style accommodations, the promise of a pre-surgical vacation, and low-cost surgery. Despite how appealing this might sound, anyone considering medical tourism should know the risks as well as the benefits and should also understand how to find a qualified plastic surgeon, regardless of the location.

General Concerns about Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Abroad

How comfortable is it to recover from surgery when out of town?
Although you can expect the recovery time to be about the same as what you would encounter in the United States when you receive medical care from a qualified individual. However, you will spend some of your recovery time in a hotel, which can be more uncomfortable than being able to go directly from the hospital to your own bed in your home.

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As important as your doctor's qualifications are, it is equally essential that the medical facility where your surgery will be performed is qualified.

Is it safe to travel so soon after surgery?
Many also find traveling so soon after plastic surgery to be a disadvantage, and some surgeries preclude travel immediately after. For instance, many plastic surgeons do not recommend air travel immediately following rhinoplasty due to the air pressure changes that occur. Even after two to three weeks some procedures will be sensitive to these pressure changes, being seated for a long period of time, or other travel considerations. Plastic surgery near to your home doesn’t come with this inconvenience.

How does legal recourse differ abroad should something go wrong?
Another disadvantage of medical tourism is the lack of legal recourse should complications arise. Malpractice lawsuits are unheard of in many other countries, which means that, should a complication occur that requires long-term medical care, you may be left with significant economic difficulties.

What additional insurance should I have if I am having plastic surgery away from home?
In consideration of these complications, many patients who travel abroad for plastic surgery purchase evacuation insurance. This insurance guarantees that, should you suffer a complication which requires a level of care that local medical facilities in the country cannot provide or that results in your needing specialized transportation to your home, you will not face the economic difficulties associate with the evacuation. Patients who seek a plastic surgeon in the U.S. will not face this problem.

Will my insurance cover complications arising from surgery in a foreign country?
It should also be noted that many health insurance companies will not pay for medical complications resulting from plastic surgery abroad. This means that, should you suffer complications after surgery, you may be forced to pay for your medical care at home.

How do I Find a Qualified Plastic Surgeon and a Good Facility?
Many companies offer medical tourism packages that boast of qualified surgeons and excellent facilities, but just as you wouldn’t simply select a doctor’s name from the phonebook here, you shouldn’t simply choose the first medical travel provider you find. There are a number of questions that should be answered about both the surgeon and their hospital facilities, regardless of whether it is a facility that is in the US or abroad.

Board Certification Equals General & Specific Experience

While some plastic surgeons abroad have achieved certification, many have not. It is far easier to find a board certified plastic surgeon domestically, and oftentimes you can find an eminently qualified plastic surgeon through the recommendation of your general physician.

Regardless of where you plan to have plastic surgery, your surgeon should be a member of the American Board of Plastic Surgery and/or The Royal College of Plastic Surgeons. This means that they have achieved a minimum of three years of general surgical experience and three years of experience specifically in plastic surgery.

Questions about your doctor should include:

  • How long has the doctor been practicing?
  • What is his or her educational background?
  • Is he board certified?
  • Is the hospital or surgical center where your procedure will be done accredited?

As important as your doctor's qualifications are, it is equally essential that the medical facility where your surgery will be performed is qualified.

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While the Joint Commission International offers accreditation for international facilities, these accreditations do not always reflect the variable economic and political circumstances of facilities abroad.

Questions about the medical facility should include:

  • Is the hospital or facility accredited?
  • Who has accredited them?
  • Have they had outbreaks of infections in the hospital?
  • Does it have the latest technology available?
  • What level of trauma is the facility equipped to deal with should something go wrong during surgery?
  • Are all facilities sanitary? Facilities are another concern of anyone considering plastic surgery abroad
  • Does the staff demonstrate professionalism and competence at every level?

It is easier to guarantee the sanitation, technology, and staffing of a hospital when it is being evaluated based upon domestic standards.

Accreditation of international cosmetic & plastic surgeons & facilities?
While the Joint Commission International offers accreditation for international facilities, these accreditations do not always reflect the variable economic and political circumstances of facilities abroad. Many of the answers for these questions will therefore be answered far more easily, accurately and satisfactorily at a domestic facility than one abroad.

Also while some plastic surgeons abroad have achieved certification, many have not. It is far easier to find a board certified plastic surgeon domestically, and oftentimes you can find an eminently qualified plastic surgeon through the recommendation of your general physician.

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