are the dangers of plastic surgery tourism real?

Summary: Are the dangers of plastic surgery tourism real, or have they been exaggerated for dramatic appeal? Unfortunately, the dangers do tend to be on the real side. This means that if you’re considering plastic surgery tourism, you have much to think about, especially in terms of the riskiness of your plan. Plastic surgery tourism is generally discouraged by U.S. surgeons, and we definitely agree on that.

Are the Dangers of Plastic Surgery Tourism Real?

Every once in a while you might start to wonder: are the dangers of plastic surgery tourism real? After all, you can easily search the internet and find examples successful operations that were a fraction of the price as those that were performed in the United States. It’s easy to be lulled into a false sense of security, to start to believe that maybe plastic surgery tourism isn’t so bad after all.

Unfortunately, that’s a mistake. Let’s just say it like this: you would be very hard pressed to find a board certified plastic surgeon in the United States who would wholeheartedly recommend plastic surgery tourism of any kind.

There are reasons why this practice is frowned upon. And there are reasons why some patients will go ahead with plastic surgery tourism anyway. One can only hope that those patients are particularly well informed and know what to do in cases where their procedures don’t turn out as expected. And it’s worth taking the time, every now and again, to think about what makes the dangers of plastic surgery tourism real–and why you might be better off going to a more local board certified plastic surgeon.

What is Plastic Surgery Tourism?

A few definitions always helps the discussion! Technically, plastic surgery tourism is when a patient seeks a plastic surgery procedure that they have to travel to undergo. For the purposes of our discussion, we’re limiting the definition to overseas travel. Patients usually pursue plastic surgery tourism because there are some places in the world where plastic surgery is significantly less expensive (even when one includes airfare).

On the surface, it seems like the arithmetic is pretty simple: if the cost of airfare plus the cost of hotel plus the cost of surgery would still save you money, why not do it? You get a free vacation out if the deal as well.

Why is Plastic Surgery Tourism Bad?

The problem is that, when it comes to plastic surgery, you get what you pay for. And if you’re paying that little for your plastic surgery–no matter where you’re going–it ought to raise a few eyebrows.

There are two primary reasons why plastic surgery tourism tends to have a higher risk than more sedentary surgical strategies:

  • Expertise: Surgeons in the United States undergo a significant amount of training and schooling and are held to the highest of standards. When you undergo plastic surgery overseas, you can’t be sure what standards are being enforced and what governing bodies have authority. In the United States, at least, you can be reasonably sure that your safety is a primary concern.
  • Travel and Follow Up Care: Traveling is a drain on your body during the best of time. But right after surgery? Travel could lead to complications. And when complications develop, it’s often helpful to see the same surgeon who performed the operation in the first place. This isn’t possible with plastic surgery tourism (unless you want to hop on another flight). Follow up care is usually best performed by the same surgeon; again, that’s not possible with plastic surgery tourism.

The Dangers and the Risks

Before you find yourself checking flights, you should talk to a plastic or cosmetic surgeon about the very real dangers and risks of plastic surgery tourism. This article, after all, is only intended for entertainment purposes. A surgeon will be able to give you medically accurate information that pertains specifically to the procedure you want.

But perhaps a short list would be beneficial. The potential risks of plastic surgery tourism include:

  • Receiving low quality care which could lead to suboptimal results or compromised recovery.
  • Subpar medical devices, such as breast implants, which either rupture or don’t last as long as those made for U.S. surgeons.
  • Low quality recovery conditions, which could cause complications down the road.
  • Traveling could cause its own complications.
  • Further procedures or complications down the road may not be able to be treated by the same surgeon.

All of these risks could have detrimental effects on either your results or even your health. And in many cases, the money that patients save via plastic surgery tourism are often spent (and then some) dealing with follow-up complications.

If you’re wondering: are the dangers of plastic surgery tourism real? Well, yes, they are. Quite a bit real. That doesn’t mean it’s automatically a bad idea. It just means that you should probably talk about this option–and all of your options–with your plastic surgeon before making a decision about how you move forward.


About the Author: Dan Voltz has been writing about plastic and cosmetic surgery for almost four years. He’s constantly in communication with surgeons so he can be sure he’s giving you the most up to date information possible.

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