“Cosmetic Tourism” – Maybe Not a Good Idea

Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Serving Areas Near Houston & Sugar Land, TX

May 31, 2010

Plastic and cosmetic surgery have become an international phenomenon in recent years, and some of the more unique ways to market plastic surgery abroad is through cosmetic surgery tourism. This is where plastic surgeries such as breast augmentation, facelifts, and liposuction are packaged along with a tourist experience at vacation destinations. Some foreign practices tout that it is less expensive than surgery at home. While it may seem like a great idea to have breast augmentation and a tummy tuck, and then go on a safari or beach vacation, that’s not really how things work in real life. Plastic surgery, although elective in nearly all cases, is real surgery. Anesthesia is administered, incisions are made, medical devices may be implanted, drains may be placed, and sutures of some sort close the incisions. After surgery, whether inpatient or outpatient, the patient will go through a recovery period. Most of the time, even a few days post-op patients generally don’t feel like riding in a bumpy jeep, climbing ancient ruins, splashing in the beach-side surf, or especially enduring a long international flight home. More importantly, the patient needs to establish a solid working relationship with his/her surgeon, and that usually takes more than one office visit. Additionally, pre-operative tests must be run to make sure the patient is in good health. The above mentioned considerations are practical in nature, but the patient should also consider the possibility that his/her surgeon may not have sufficient training or as rigorous a licensure program as in the US. There may also be a language barrier with the surgeon and/or health care staff at the location. More importantly, if there are complications during surgery and urgent care is needed, would or could the patient have to be airlifted to the US, or get care on location? If care must be given on location, would health insurance cover the costs? Would an air ambulance be covered? The idea of going on vacation to relax, and be away from nosy friends and family to get plastic surgery sounds like a good idea, but think it through before committing. Why not be safe and have surgery by a locally renowned physician in your home town where your usually health care providers are? When all goes well, then go on vacation to show off that beautiful body!