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Plastic Surgery Abroad: Buyer Beware

Plastic Surgery Abroad Buyer Beware

Interested in plastic surgery abroad?

Before I go any further, I would like to state that there are some excellent plastic surgeons in New York City and other states in the United States, but there are many certified plastic surgeons in other countries as well.

For example, South America has long been at the forefront of cosmetic surgery with many of the latest body contouring procedures originating in countries like Brazil. 

Medical Tourism

Medical tourism has been increasing in recent years. This involves Americans traveling to other countries for cosmetic surgery abroad. The majority are not traveling for the expertise of the doctors.

Rather, they are traveling for the lower cosmetic surgeries prices. Despite the tough economy, cosmetic surgery procedures have declined only a small amount. People still want their surgeries but want to pay less for them.

Cosmetic Surgery Procedure Prices Are Lower in Other Countries

There are several reasons why cosmetic surgery prices are lower in other countries. The cost of rent, medicines and medical equipment is lower.

Also, the lower cost of living means that the doctor is able to pay lower salaries to his nurses and support staff.  Doctors in other countries may also not be obligated to carry expensive malpractice insurance so they can save upwards of $60,000 annually in premiums .  This all means that the plastic surgeons have a significantly lower ‘overhead,” allowing them to charge much lower fees for cosmetic surgery overseas, while making the same (or more) profit as in the United States for Plastic Surgery.

So, why is this a concern?  As I said in the beginning, there are some excellent plastic surgeons abroad, however, even the best surgeons have plastic and cosmetic surgery complications. 

Oftentimes, the complications do not occur immediately. Signs of infection and poor wound healing may take a week or more to become obvious.

Also, while American doctors often complain about the amount of rules and regulations that govern our offices and operating facilities, they are in place to give medical care and protect you, the patient. These rules and regulations do not exist in many other countries.

Most people who have plastic surgery abroad, stay for about 7 days. This means that many of the complications of cosmetic surgery tourism only become obvious when they are back home, thousands of miles away. 

If cosmetic procedures complications occur, there may be no way of contacting the operating surgeon, and even if there is, it may be logistically or financially impossible to travel back to the place of cosmetic surgery abroad for evaluation.

Plastic Surgery AbroadComplications from Plastic Surgery Procedures Abroad

People with complications often have no where to go except the local medical provider or emergency room.  It is not uncommon for me to be called to the emergency room to evaluate a complication in a person who had surgery abroad.  Dealing with these complications can be difficult because I have no way of knowing exactly what was done during the surgery (usually there is not a detailed discharge summary or operative report that is standard after surgeries in the United States).

Also, because bacteria vary from country to country, a post-operative infection may be the result of bacteria that is not common in the United States and the correct choice of antibiotic may be difficult.  I obviously do what I can to help these patients but there is a financial consideration as insurance will not cover complications from an elective cosmetic surgery.

If the person requires hospitalization or revisional surgery, the cost can often be more than the original surgery!

So, there are thousands and thousands of people who successfully get cosmetic surgery in other countries and have excellent results.  But, there are also some very serious complications that occur with cosmetic procedure as well. 

I understand the desire (or need) to compare prices.  Price should not be your only criteria selecting your doctor. There are excellent doctors with competitive prices here in the United States, including New York City. While these prices may not be as low as in other countries, the extra cost will be worthwhile if you are unfortunate enough to have a complication. 

Cosmetic surgery is still an invasive surgical procedure with inherent risks.  You need to do your homework and protect yourself.  In the end, the few thousand dollars in savings may not be worth the extra risk you exposing yourself to.

Airport Security and Your Breast Implants

If you traveled by airplane over the holidays you might have seen or experienced the latest security measures, x-ray scanners. The Transportation Security Administration has implemented a new advanced body imaging device that can basically see through clothing to detect any form of foreign object in or on the body.

This machine can detect any form of implant in the body, including surgical implants of the hip, wrist and even breast implants for breast augmentation. Not to worry though, the security officer who is in front of you, watching over while you are examined will not see the x-ray image. The security officer who views the “x-ray” image of your body is in a remote location.

The person examining your “x-ray” will be told when to initiate the process by the security officer in front of you over a hand-held transceiver. The security officer in a remote location will see an image on the screen which only shows outlines of the body and objects in and on the body. Additionally the image comes up fuzzy making facial features unrecognizable.

According to a poll done by CBS News “4 out of 5 Americans are all for the extra security measures and feel safer in the airport” as well as in the air, but what percent of those people have undergone plastic surgery. Some people are stating that this is an invasion of privacy.

People who want their plastic surgery kept secret feel this outs them. This is completely agreeable, but remember the person that is looking at your x-ray cannot recognize your face. They are looking for weapons and dangerous material that could endanger people’s lives.

If they see something odd they will radio to the security officer in front of you and ask them to perform a pad down.

Plastic surgery abroad pricesQuestions and Answers about Plastic Surgery Abroad 

Which country is best for doing plastic surgery?

South Korean plastic surgeons rank among the world’s top cosmetic procedure professionals in their field. Surveys indicate that approximately one in three South Korean women has undergone plastic surgery at least once in their lifetime, making the nation the leader in plastic surgery procedures performed and surgeries per capita.

What happens if you get plastic surgery in another country?

When opting for surgery overseas, you’re not only taking financial risks surgical complications into account. Statistics indicate that up to 15 million U.S. patients seek medical treatment abroad annually. However, those who do so face significantly elevated risks of experiencing severe post-surgery complications, including infections, blood clots, and enduring damage.

What country is cheapest for cosmetic procedures?

Cosmetic surgery clinics in countries like Turkey, Mexico, Thailand, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Lithuania often provide cosmetic surgical procedures, at prices 2-5 times lower than those in the UK, USA, Canada, and other similar nations.

How do I pay for plastic surgery overseas?

  • Cash or Credit Card: Using cash or a credit card is a commonly used payment method. It’s important to be mindful of any currency conversion fees or international transaction fees associated with your chosen payment method.
  • Assistance from Medical Tourism Agencies: Some medical tourism agencies specialize in coordinating your entire journey, from scheduling appointments to travel arrangements and payment facilitation.
  • Medical Loans: Several financial institutions offer specialized medical loans tailored for elective surgeries, even those performed abroad. These loans often feature competitive interest rates and flexible repayment terms.
  • Medical Travel Insurance: It’s advisable to consider purchasing medical travel insurance to provide coverage for unexpected complications or emergencies that may occur during or after your surgery.
  • Local Banking Services: Exploring local banking services in the destination country can provide convenient payment options and reduce potential currency exchange complications.

Book Your Plastic Surgery Consultation

If you are interested in a cosmetic plastic surgery procedure like breast augmentation, contact my New York City Office today to schedule a virtual consultation. Book your consult with Board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Matthew Schulman to learn about the pros and cons of Cosmetic Surgery abroad.


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