Learning the Risks of Medical Tourism

Recently a story broke out in the news about a woman in Maryland who died after trying to get her butt enhanced with silicone injections on the black market. While this type of occurrence doesn’t always make the news, it happens more often than you would think. Patients who want to save money on plastic surgery will look for alternate ways to achieve their body image goals than going through a traditional plastic surgeon’s office. This includes seeking out a procedure from a doctor outside the country.

Traveling abroad for plastic surgery, also known as medical tourism, can be extremely hazardous to your health and well-being if you aren’t careful. There are a number of risks involved that you should be aware of if you’re considering going overseas for your cosmetic procedure.

Risk #1: Not Being Able to Communicate Well with Your Surgeon

Communicating with your surgeon is one of the most important parts of the plastic surgery process, no matter where you get it done. You have to be able to tell your surgeon exactly what you want, what you don’t want, and where you want it done. Your surgeon needs to be able to find out your exact medical history and any other relevant information to your procedure. If you and your surgeon aren’t able to communicate effectively, there could be serious issues with the surgery.

Risk #2: Fewer Regulations and Restrictions

The United States heavily regulates plastic surgery and the doctors who practice it. There are certain criteria that have to be met for a person to be a certified plastic surgeon and for a building to be a certified surgical facility. These regulations and restrictions have to be proved and validated over and over again to ensure that patients are receiving quality care from someone who knows what they’re doing.

Outside the United States, there are different or even nonexistent protocols in place for doctors to practice plastic surgery. Certainly there are locations in the world where you can go to get quality plastic surgery; however, there are just as many (if not more) places where you will find substandard plastic surgeons and facilities. If you’re planning to travel abroad for your procedure, you need to find a place that is monitored and regulated to prevent yourself from being in a dangerous situation.

Risk #3: Hazardous Surgical Care Before, During, and After Your Surgery

Even if you are looking to spend less money on your procedure, you still need to get it done in a place that has the right equipment and tools for the job. You also want a place that won’t risk your health with poor protections against diseases or infections. A facility like this can be hard to find when you’re bargain-hunting for plastic surgery. Some equipment is not readily available in all countries and the health safety standards you find at a doctor’s office here in the United States aren’t universally practiced. If you get a procedure done in a place without even the basic sterilizing protocols, you run the risk of contracting communicable diseases or viral infections, including HIV and Hepatitis.

Risk #4: Greater Likelihood of Complications

Plastic surgery techniques are advancing more and more every day, but there are still risks of complications with any procedure. When surgeons use techniques that are outdated or less safe than others, patients run an even higher risk of complications. Since not all surgeons have access to the same type of training and education, especially in some overseas countries, you may find that choosing a doctor abroad increases the likelihood that you will experience some problems after your surgery. Things like blood clots, heavy bruising and swelling, infections, and bacteria that resists antibiotics are all serious conditions that could result from having plastic surgery from a doctor who is less qualified.

Consider this, too: Should you experience any complications after your surgery in a foreign country, will you have access to quality medical treatment to address them? Medical doctors are held to the same standards and accountability as plastic surgeons here in the United States; that may not be the case overseas.

Risk #5: Not Getting What You Want

Every patient is slightly different in their needs and wants for plastic surgery, but not every plastic surgeon is qualified enough to address them. Some doctors only know of one or two methods to perform a procedure, which will be a problem for you if those methods aren’t the best way to get you the best result. If you end up not being happy with the results of your procedure overseas, you’ll either have to go through the process of getting everything fixed at a later time or be stuck with something that will make you unhappy. Either way, you’re wasting money on your plastic surgery.

How to Reduce Your Plastic Surgery Risks

Bargain hunting for plastic surgery is definitely appealing; after all, who wants to spend more money on something when they don’t have to? However, plastic surgery is very much a “you get what you pay for” business. You may be spending less money, but you’re greatly increasing your risks to your health and well-being. By choosing a doctor with whom you can communicate effectively and research to ensure that they and their facilities are highly qualified, you can reduce those risks and increase the likelihood that you will be satisfied with your results.

Dr. Frederick G. Weniger, M.D., F.A.C.S. is a board-certified plastic surgeon in Bluffton, South Carolina with a state-of-the-art facility and the skills to perform a wide variety of surgical and nonsurgical procedures. His passion for his work and his exceptional care for his patients attracts people from all over the world. To schedule a patient consultation with Frederick G. Weniger, M.D., F.A.C.S. or learn more about his procedures, call (843) 757-0123 for an appointment.