Caution: Plastic Surgery Tourism Part 2

There are many highly trained plastic surgeons across the world and often patients look to combine a holiday with their cosmetic surgery. This is often termed cosmetic or plastic surgery tourism.

The advent of the Internet and social media has made it even easier to access cosmetic surgery abroad. 


Patients may feel empowered to combine cosmetic surgery abroad with a postop recovery away from their normal country of residence. They feel that they can then return home having had not only a holiday but also with the ability to hide the fact that they have had cosmetic surgery. They rarely consider the choice of surgeon and even if this is considered it is often low on the priority list. Our previous article documents the importance of choosing your surgeon (Part 1). Patients however must also consider the provider, communication barriers, the preop assessment, management of complications, aftercare and the hidden costs.


Caution 2. The hospital / provider.


Patients must research the hospital where they wish to have a plastic surgery procedure. Patients must know whether the hospital facility is regulated, is certified / accredited and has appropriate patient safety standards. Patients should ask whether The World Health Organization (WHO) surgical safety checklist has been implanted within the facility and the rates of infection and complications within the facility should be easily available.


Caution 3. Communication


When considering plastic surgery tourism patients must ensure that they can communicate effectively with not only the surgeon performing the surgery but also the staff at the facility where the procedure is to be carried out. In order that patients can consent appropriately for treatment they must be able to understand the consent process and be able to be cared for peri-operatively. 


Caution 4 Preoperative assessment and Anesthetic


If patients are deemed suitable for surgery and happy to proceed within the UK they require a preoperative assessment prior to surgery. Patients must be aware that a preoperative assessment by a suitably qualified provider is essential prior to any plastic surgery procedure. In the UK patients have the opportunity to postpone / cancel without any / minimal financial penalty if they are deemed unsuitable after a preoperative assessment. In the UK if concerns were picked up following a preop assessment, an anesthetist would consult with the patient preoperatively and run through the pros and cons of proceeding. Within the plastic surgery tourism package. Patients need to clarify the preop assessment process, details of the anesthetist and the implications of abnormal findings on preoperative assessment.


Caution 3. Complications


The possibility of complications increases considerably with travel. These increased risks include deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE), which are increased considerably when flying.

Caution 4 Aftercare


When things go wrong abroad, patients have little opportunity to extend their stay and often pursue additional treatment at their own expense. Often they feel pressurized into returning to the UK even though they know something is wrong. There is also limited if any chance of redress following return to the UK.


Caution 5. Cost


Low cost is the main attraction for going abroad. However dealing with complications can be substantial and significantly higher than the original surgery costs. Furthermore infections contracted abroad may be atypical and resistant to treatment. Patients with minor problems requiring ongoing visits for weeks can be easily treated when the surgeon is nearby. A patient whose surgeon is thousands of miles away in a different country won’t have the same aftercare in place unless this is documented preoperatively. Even when surgery is properly performed, complications are a possibility. Patients need to know who will care for them when they return home and who will pay for any secondary or revision procedures.


Mr. Ross is a plastic surgeon that underwent specific training in plastic surgery. Mr. Ross successfully completed his FRCS(plast), obtained his CCT and is listed on the GMC specialist Register for Plastic surgery (Number 4220633). Mr. Ross has a vast training in aesthetic surgery throughout his plastic surgery training including the techniques utilized in “cosmetic surgery”. Mr. Ross is a full member of BAAPS and BAPRAS and is regularly appraised on an annual basis. He has successfully revalidated and “cosmetic surgery” is an established part of his scope of practice. 

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