Summary: Plastic surgery tourism is a popular concept—and there’s certainly nothing I’ll be able to say to stop some of you from engaging in this activity. However, plastic surgery tourism isn’t really strongly recommended, especially when it takes you away from the rigorous levels of safety and checks available in places such as the United States. Even though getting results is great (and paying less for those results is also great), safety should always be the top priority.
Evaluating Plastic Surgery Tourism
Plastic surgery tourism is popular for a reason. Not only are the costs of such an endeavor usually significantly lower, but you also get to travel and enjoy a new part of the world. You can go somewhere warm and tropical and enjoy the sandy beaches before going in for your desired procedure.
It sure sounds good. Unfortunately, the reality is starkly different. For reasons of safety, plastic surgery tourism is discouraged by just about every reputable plastic surgeon in the United States.
But maybe before we get far into the dangers of plastic surgery tourism, we should take a second to define what plastic surgery tourism is. Essentially, when you fly to another country to take advantage of lower prices (either due to currency exchange rates or due to lower cost of living), you are engaging in plastic surgery tourism.
On the face of it, plastic surgery tourism doesn’t seem that bad. But let’s take a look at some of the risks associated with plastic surgery tourism.
The Risks of Plastic Surgery Tourism
Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) issued an advisory that discouraged patients from getting plastic surgery from the Dominican Republic. It turns out that there were a significant number of patients (18 confirmed with another 3 likely) who had gone to this Caribbean nation and come back with a nasty infection.
The injection in question, mycobacteria, is tough to kill with antibiotics. Which means that there’s often swelling, pain, and scarring. This is especially troublesome for patients who had their sites set on looking more youthful or radiant. In fact, many of these patients will require reconstructive surgery.
This incident in the Dominican Republic is just one example. Outside the United States (and equally developed—and expensive—nations, such as Canada and the UK), infections are easy to get and easier to spread. Complications are more rampant. And good results are harder to come by.
When you engage in plastic surgery tourism, you run the following risks:
- Increased risk of complications
- Increased risk of infection
- Increased risk of poor quality medical devices, such as implants
- Lack of adequate medical care
- Lack of mobility (you may have to recover before you can travel)
- Lack of familiarity with your surroundings
- Lack of support during your recovery
As you can see, there are significant risks. Any cost cutting move is going to result in increased risks.
What You Get By Staying Home
If you live in Minneapolis and get Micro Laser Peel in Minneapolis, you can recover in Minneapolis. If you live in Seattle and get a breast augmentation in Seattle, you can recover at home. That might sound like a small and simple thing, but it can be a big deal with it comes to bigger procedures. Having the luxury of recovering at home—in a familiar environment—is a very nice thing at about that time.
And then, of course, there’s the safety issue. One of the reasons that surgical procedures in the United States are so expensive is because you’re paying for your safety: the best products, redundant systems, the best training. And you’re also paying for the oversight which ensures (to the degree possible) that surgeons are conforming to the latest safety practices and standards.
You’re also paying for the expertise that will get you excellent results. When it comes to plastic surgery—or even cosmetic procedures—there are many moving parts tot consider. In order to get the desired final results, surgeons must know the best place to make the incision and anticipate the way the body will heal.
That can be a daunting challenge, but it’s one that gets easier over time. In other words, the more experienced the surgeon is, the more likely you are to get great results.
Staying in Your Own Back Yard
You can see, I hope, that there are some definite advantages to staying in your own backyard when it comes to plastic surgery. Now, to be sure, that’s not an option for everyone—some of us have very small back yards. But the point is this: you want to make sure you find a highly qualified (perhaps even board certified) plastic surgeon to perform your procedure.
It can take some time to find the right surgeon. If you’re in the United States, you can rest assured about certain safety precautions and protocols. In any case, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It’s better to pay for your safety now than it is to pay for your recovery later.