Cosmetic Surgery Tourism: Is It Worth It?

Cosmetic surgery tourism is a price-driven phenomenon that has experienced increased growth over the past decade. Numerous companies offering all-inclusive vacation packages that include cosmetic surgery are popping up all over the world and can be easily located via the Internet. The offers generally include private hospital services and tout ”highly trained” and ”credentialed” medical staff. Since elective cosmetic surgery procedures are not covered by insurance, the price is the major selling point of cosmetic surgery tourism, with entire vacation/surgical packages costing less than individual procedures in Australia.

Although there are many skilled and qualified plastic surgeons practicing all over the world, cautions is warranted as it may be difficult to assess the training and credentials of surgeons outside of  Australia.  Patients may take unnecessary risks, when choosing cosmetic surgery vacations, by unknowingly selecting unqualified surgeons and having procedures performed in non-accredited surgical facilities.  Patients should consider the potential complications, unsatisfactory results, and risks to general health that may occur.

I very occasionally see patients who have had cosmetic surgery tourism done abroad that have gone horribly wrong.

This is commonly due to either bad surgical technique, sloppy post-operative care, or misinformation that leads to a  less than satisfactory outcome for both patient and surgeon involved.  I  can understand that the lure of cheap cosmetic surgery and a holiday in some exotic destination thrown in for less than the price of comparable surgery at home is often too much of a temptation to resist.  Sadly, most people spend more time anguishing over the purchase of the latest and greatest gizmo than their plastic surgeon.  Before you next consider cosmetic surgery abroad, always remember to check:

  1. The plastic surgeon is well trained and reputable and that you feel comfortable with them.
  2. Make sure that you can communicate fluently in their native language or vice versa.  Also, don’t forget that you need a good anaesthetist to keep you safely asleep during the procedure.
  3. Make sure that the operation you are having is the right one for you.  Often with cosmetic surgery tourism, planning and decision making is necessarily rushed.  You cannot have ‘second thoughts’ and when surgery is planned, too often without seeing the operating surgeon or seeing them just before the surgery for the first time, there is no time to contemplate on the decision made or any informed consent.
  4. Determine that the operation is being performed in a safe environment and any prostheses used (eg. breast implants) are of the highest quality. Cosmetic surgery trips are often marketed as vacations  – but vacation activities should be avoided after cosmetic surgery eg; sunbathing, drinking alcohol,  swimming, jet skiing, taking extensive tours by bus or foot.  These can all compromise wound healing and increase infection rates and other problems.
  1. Lastly, you need to establish that there is appropriate after-care in place.  Whilst most things that go wrong usually happen within 48  hours, there are many things that can occur weeks to months down the track.  Revisional surgery may be required when you’re back home and in these instances can be more difficult because of the uncertainties in surgical techniques used.  Remember,  “forewarned  is  to  be  forearmed.”

Question: What are some of the reasons you would entertain having cosmetic surgery tourism?  You can leave a comment below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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