In 2012, over 4.6 million cosmetic surgery procedures were performed in the United States, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. This number is on the rise, with more and more people turning to plastic surgeons to combat the signs of aging or areas of imperfection. Consequently, plastic surgery has become an extremely competitive and profitable field; and with more people researching plastic surgery costs, some are opting to travel abroad to go under the knife to save money. However, although the surgery may be less expensive, the risks of overseas cosmetic surgery are significantly increased. In fact, some patients who travel to other countries end up having even more expensive corrective surgeries because of inferior care and work.
The Reason in the Green
So, why is plastic surgery so much cheaper abroad? You may be led to believe that this is because there is a lower cost of living in other countries. Unfortunately, the cost is actually lower due to a lack of experienced professionals, no follow up care and less regulation of procedures.
(Missed) Road to Recovery
One huge risk associated with overseas plastic surgery is the common lack of a recovery period after the surgery takes place. Travel is stressful on the body, so flying abroad and quickly coming home after a procedure may cause the biggest problems. With invasive surgeries, there is a recommended time for rest. This is often ignored abroad, which can have long-term effects on your body and its recovery.
Many patients who travel abroad only factor in the cost of travel and the surgery; what they don’t consider is the quality and cost of health care abroad if they need to be hospitalized. If something goes wrong during the surgery, what is your doctor’s emergency plan? Where will you be transported and how much will it cost?
When you have surgery abroad, it’s often harder to follow up and contact your doctor about results. In the US, many doctors require several follow up visits to make sure the results are as planned and healing is undergone correctly. Patients who travel abroad sometimes never even see their doctor again for a follow-up. This is a crucial aspect of any surgery and increases the risk of infection and complications.
If there is a complication, patients must consider flying back to the country for corrective surgery or paying a different doctor in the U.S. to fix the damage. This is when the true cost of overseas surgery is realized. Many who anticipated getting the best deal end up overspending on corrective care, overvaluing their budget, and find themselves with emotional and economic woe. Beyond the physical risks, plastic surgery nightmares can leave serious psychological effects on patients as well.
“In the face!”
For facial procedures, there is an increased risk of scarring or nerve damage. Many people come back to the United States and notice that their operation is not symmetrical or is healing improperly. A common problem associated with facial surgeries in Asia is infection. When silicone and plastic is improperly inserted in the face, there is a high risk of infection and many patients must pay for removal in the U.S.
With any surgeries are performed on the body, the biggest cosmetic risk is scarring. In other countries, plastic surgeries are performed differently. Whenever you try to cut the cost of a surgery, you cut the cost of the quality. Breast implants are especially risky. Many patients who have traveled abroad notice that the implant placement is uneven and the stitches leave scarring. Also, with less health regulation in many countries, the silicon used may not be as safe as implants in the U.S. The U.S. has extremely strict regulations in place for any cosmetic surgery, and these standards are not met in the majority of countries that patients may visit for a cheaper surgery.
When you travel abroad, you expose yourself to new bacteria. Many cases include infections that are hard to identify and treat once patients return home to the United States. This can cause tissue damage and lead to surgeries where tissue needs to be removed all together.
Of course, you run the same risks of subpar care and experience in the United States as well. With any medical procedure or surgery, it is important to research your doctor and ask for accreditation and records. Cosmetic procedures have life-long consequences and effects. This is one aspect of your appearance you shouldn’t cut corners on, no matter what country you go to for care.
To Remain Domestic?
When you factor the risks into the cost of going abroad for cosmetic surgery, the better deal very well may be staying in United States. Your plastic surgeon will be easy to research, contact and follow up with. You will have the peace of mind that your surgery is being performed in a country with high standards and accountability for practitioners.
Dr. Gregory H. Croll is the owner of his own practice, and the leading doctor for plastic surgery Columbia MO has to offer.