Cosmetic Surgery Abroad – The Risks Of Medical Tourism

For those thinking of getting plastic surgery, getting it done abroad may seem like an appealing option.

By travelling abroad, people can save 40 to 80 per cent on cosmetic surgery, depending on the procedure and the country; according to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS). But whilst choosing to have a procedure abroad might be an attractive option for many, it’s often not as smooth sailing as it sounds and can even prove fatal.

Tragic Brit Leah Cambridge, 29, died in August after suffering complications from buttock-lift surgery in Turkey. Now, another British woman has also died after undergoing Brazilian butt lift (BBL) surgery. Buttock-lifts are becoming increasingly popular as women try to achieve the ´hourglass figure´ made famous by Kim Kardashian, Nicki Minaj et al, but experts have warned that the procedure can carry serious complications.

Of course, cosmetic surgery both in the UK and abroad has their risks, but it´s more difficult to fix complications abroad, should they arise. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering cosmetic surgery out of the UK:

Is it safer to have plastic surgery in the UK or abroad?

No surgery is risk-free, however, if you choose to get your surgery done in the UK, then the surgeon will be able to discuss long term aftercare and be on-hand if something goes wrong. Some overseas clinics may not provide aftercare or follow up treatments.

The British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPAS) encourages patients to make sure they have frequent contact with their surgeon. They stated “At BAPRAS we believe that patients should be able to see the plastic surgeon that actually carried out the operations, if there are any concerns.”

What are the risks involved in getting plastic surgery abroad?

As well as various complications that can occur during surgery, there are also risks to consider when travelling back home after having a procedure. Flying back soon afterwards can leave you vulnerable to (DVT) Deep Vein Thrombosis (when a blood clot forms in a vein, partially or completely blocking blood flow) and a Pulmonary Embolism (when a blood vessel supplying the lung becomes blocked by a clot).

BAPRAS advises waiting five to seven days to fly home after procedures such as breast surgery and liposuction, and seven to ten days after facial cosmetic surgery procedures or tummy-tucks. There is also travel insurance to consider; it’s rare that a policy will cover you in the event of something going wrong during a planned surgery, so check that you have full insurance cover before you travel.

What is medical tourism?

‘Medical Tourism’ is the term used to describe those travelling to another country to obtain medical treatment. Medical tourism, which covers all types of procedures including elective plastic surgery – is growing worldwide at an estimated rate of 15 to 25 per cent, according to research firm Patients Beyond Borders.

More specifically, the past few years have seen a rise in cosmetic surgery tourism, which is often sold as a package deal promising surgery and a holiday. Generally speaking, it’s best to approach these kinds of holiday deals with caution. Firstly, there’s the fact that vacation time and surgery just don’t go together. You’ll need sufficient time to recover after the procedure, which means avoiding lying in the sun, doing anything energetic or drinking alcohol – which are often the highly anticipated parts of the holiday experience.

The NHS advises avoiding ‘meet-and-greet evenings’ with sales-people, and instead, meeting with the surgeon who will operate on you. Also, never pay to go a hospital you’ve never seen with a surgeon you’ve never met without any real understanding of what the surgeon can provide.

Where are the most popular destinations for cosmetic surgery?

Cosmetic surgery tourism is rife, and there are a variety of places patients are currently flocking to for their procedures. In Europe, popular destinations include Poland, Spain, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Turkey. Elsewhere, cosmetic surgery is big in Brazil, Thailand, the US and Japan.

How can I minimise the risks?

First, find out as much as possible about the procedure itself. Then, you need to thoroughly do your research into clinics in your chosen country to find out if they’re regulated and have Surgeons that are fully trained and can speak English. Check online reviews and social media to gather independent feedback on the services provided by a specific surgeon or clinic.

Finally, consider the worst case scenario. You need to have a plan in place in case something goes wrong, including insurance arrangements. For further advice, BAPRAS has a handy checklist of things to consider before going abroad to have cosmetic surgery.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *