As the popularity of plastic surgery procedures increases, so does your options for surgeons. Ideally, you would select a surgeon in your local area since it would be most convenient for your surgery and all the necessary pre-op and post-op appointments. However, the best surgeon for you is often not right down the street. This means, that more and more people are electing to travel to the surgeon of their choice. Oftentimes, the surgeon in far enough away that it requires a very long car ride or even a plane trip. Many people are selecting surgeons that are in different states and even different countries. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but does require some additional considerations and planning.
Why choose a far-away surgeon?
The easy answer is that you think it is more important to select the best surgeon for your procedure, and their location does not make a difference to you. With the rise of the internet and social media, potential patients have exposure to surgeons from around the globe. Gone are the days where you picked your surgeon because your primary doctor recommended him or her, or your friend had gone to them. Now, there are so many internet resources to help you choose your own surgeon. This may be based on reviews or before and after photos. Your internet research will likely lead you to a surgeon that is many many miles away from you, especially if you are looking for an expert in a very specific procedure such as a Brazilian Butt Lift or Mommy Makeover. Sometimes people choose a surgeon based on cost, and if you happen to live in an area with a vey high cost of living, you may elect to travel to s surgeon in a region with lower prices.
There are many things to consider, when choosing to have your surgery far from your home, and it will certainly require additional planning. Continue reading to learn about these considerations.
How will you have your consultation?
If you choose a surgeon who is far away, you need to think about how you even start the process of the consultation. Will the consultation be done virtually? If it is done virtually, who will be doing the consultation? Will it be with the doctor themselves or will it be with a nurse or assistant? Or will you be making a specific trip for an in-person consultation?
It is true for any consultation – in-person or virtual – that the consultation MUST be with the actual surgeon who will be performing your procedure. Only that specific surgeon is in a position to appropriately discuss the surgical plan and any risks of the procedure. If your consultation is not with the surgeon, I would strongly recommend re-evaluating your choice. If your consultation will be virtual, you want to make sure that there is a designated time to be examined in-person by the surgeon prior to surgery. This means that you should be examined the day before the surgery, and not 5 minutes before the procedure. This will have given the appropriate time for any changes in the surgical plan to be made safely.
How will your travel for the surgery?
Will the distance require you take an airplane? If it does, you want to make sure that it will be safe for you to travel home in the same manner. Some surgeons will request that you avoid flying for a certain amount of time after a procedure. Also, some procedures may make airplane travel very uncomfortable. Also be aware that there are often traveling delays and you need to account for this possibility. Your flight may be delayed due to weather or other situations. You may hit unanticipated road traffic. Make sure you allow extra time, and this usually means, planning to arrive to the area a few days BEFORE your surgery.
Where will you stay after the surgery and for how long?
Your surgeon will recommend the appropriate amount of time that you should stay in the area after your surgery. This may be anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the complexity of the procedure. You may have sutures that need to come out or drains that need to be removed, and this may require that you stay even longer. You need to make the appropriate arrangements for wherever you are staying – hotel, friends/family, airBnB, recovery house. Your surgeon will examine you and give you the clearance to return home when you are ready. But you need to also be prepared for the possibility that he or she may require you to stay longer if there are concerns or complications that need to be monitored.
Who will be accompanying you during your surgery?
As is the case with any surgery, you will need someone to help take care of you afterwards. When you are traveling for surgery, this will also mean that someone else will need to travel with you. You will need to find a family member or friend that is willing to make the trip and stay for as long as they are needed.
Who will you contact if there are concerns after you go home?
You want to make sure that you have the contact information of your surgeon. Certainly, there will be questions about your recovery and you need to make sure that someone will be available to answer those questions. Your surgeon should be available to you even if you are now 1000 miles away.
Does your surgeon have a colleague in your area who can assist in your care if needed?
In the event that you have a problem and need to be evaluated, your surgeon should be able to call a colleague in your area. Any reputable board certified plastic surgeon should be able to pick up the phone and call a colleague in an emergency. This is another reason why you should choose a respected Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. Unless it is a true medical emergency, your surgeon should not be instructing you to go the nearest emergency room for care that can be provided in a profession setting with a plastic surgery colleague.
Where will your post-operative care be done?
There is a lot of post-operative care that is required for any plastic surgery procedure. This includes routine check-ups, suture removal, drain removal, scar treatments, etc. If you choose to travel to a surgeon in another area, you should be prepared to travel back to that surgeon for this routine post-operative care, unless he or she has made pre-arrangements with a local surgeon.
The main benefit to traveling for your surgery, is that you are able to select a true expert. In fact, about 35% of my patients come to me from distances over 500 miles away. However, you need to be aware of the additional arrangements and planning required. These also come with additional expenses, since you need to consider the cost of travel, cost of accommodations, and the costs associated with returning to that surgeon for routine (or non-routine) care. Keep this in mind if your main motivation for traveling to have your surgery is the reduced cost, since when you factor in the additional costs, the savings may not be as much as you had thought.
Dr. Schulman welcomes patients from all over the world. To start the process of your Virtual Consultation with New York City plastic surgeon, Dr. Matthew Schulman, visit our website.