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.  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 anesthetist 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 to 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 in having cosmetic surgery tourism?  You can leave a comment below.

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Patients usually take at least 3-4 weeks off from work following a body lift. I encourage patients to ambulate shortly after surgery. They may resume full exercise approximately 6 weeks following surgery.

To learn more about body lifts, request a consultation by contacting us at 13000DRTIM or emailing us at info@drtim.com.au 

Cosmetic Surgery Tip #17: Reconsider having breast augmentation with a strong family history of breast cancer, are obese, or smoke

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All these factors increase risks and complications during and after surgery. If you have any significant medical issues, you need to be evaluated by your GP or specialist and cleared before having cosmetic breast surgery.

Photo Credit: Saul Steinberg “Masquerade”

Cosmetic Surgery Tip #31: Increase your protein intake

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Two of the most important healing elements are calories and protein.  Extra protein is needed to build new tissue and blood vessels, repair injured tissue and step up production of cells that repair the wound.  Choose high quality protein sources like fish, poultry, beans & legumes or lean cuts of meat.

Photo Credit: Saul Steinberg “Masquerade”

Breast Reduction for Symptomatic Macromastia

Breast reduction surgery patients are among the happiest  because they both look and feel better following surgery. When women have large, burdensome breasts, they frequently suffer from a condition called symptomatic macromastia which may include the following symptoms:

  1. Pain in the neck, shoulders, breasts, and upper or lower back
  2. Bra strap indentations
  3. Rashes underneath the breasts (intertrigo)
  4. Little finger numbness
  5. Difficultly exercising, fitting into clothing or examining the breasts

Breast reduction surgery is designed to make the breasts smaller and lighter to alleviate the problems of symptomatic macromastia. However, the plastic surgeon performing the breast reduction is the most important determinant of the quality of the result. There are many different techniques for breast reduction, and each surgeon has their own preferences based on experience and patient needs. Often, breast reduction is combined with a breast lift on the other side.

Techniques

There are basically 2 types of techniques used commonly throughout the world:

  1. Wise Pattern (also known as the “Inverted T” or Anchor Scar) describe a technique with a scar around the areola with a vertical scar extending downwards to a horizontal scar in the breast fold.
  2. Vertical (also known as the Circumvertical or “Lollipop” Scar) describe a technique with a scar around the areola with a vertical scar extending downwards to meet the breast fold.

The choice depends on the extent of ptosis (sagging) and the surgeon’s experience. Liposuction is commonly used with the Vertical techniques and less frequently with the Wise pattern except to remove unwanted fatty tissue from the armpit regions.

Medicare & Health funds

Breast reduction surgery is considered to be medically necessary if a patient suffers from symptomatic macromastia. The typical criteria for Medicare Item no. coverage of a breast reduction include: bothersome symptoms detrimental to quality of life, failure of medical therapy prescribed by another doctor, physiotherapist or chiropractor, and removal of a minimum estimated weight of breast tissue.

Most health funds  will cover this procedure for patients with these symptoms if they have attempted conservative medical treatment without success. Most commonly, this conservative medical treatment is provided by a GP, physiotherapist or chiropractor. Typically, there is a minimum weight of breast tissue that must be removed from each breast to qualify as a medically necessary breast reduction for health fund coverage. The best way to determine if your procedure is medically indicated is in a consultation with me at the clinic.

Recovery

One of the best things about recovering from breast reduction surgery is how quickly patients experience relief from their symptoms. The morning after surgery many patients already feel symptomatic relief, even though their recovery has just begun. Many comment that they even breathe easier when they no longer have so much weight on their chests.

Recovery from a breast reduction tends to be quick because it does not involve the underlying muscles, bones or internal organs. Most women will need a few days to recover before returning to work, up to 2 weeks for the incisions to heal before resuming exercise and 12-18 months for the scars to fade to a subtle colour.

To learn more about your breast reduction options and whether or not you are a candidate, email us at info@drtim.com.au or call our clinic at 13000DRTIM .

Cosmetic Surgery Tip #33: Discontinue taking certain supplements

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Some nutritional supplements may cause adverse reactions during or after cosmetic surgery, including prolonged bleeding, interference with anaesthesia, cardiovascular disturbances, and interactions with prescription drugs.  These supplements including dong quai, echinacea, fish oil caps, garlic, ginger, ginkgo biloba, ginseng, kava kava, ephedra, St.John’s Wort, and vitamin E, should be discontinued two weeks prior to surgery and two weeks after surgery.

Photo Credit: Saul Steinberg “Masquerade”