Just imagine this scenario: a beautiful, white sandy beach, palm trees, cocktails, and delicious food. The prospect of being operated in a sumptuous and exotic setting, while also saving what looks like lots of money, can make certain people interested in undergoing plastic surgery to jump to the occasion and forget the risks that are associated with getting plastic surgery abroad.
As it is with most things in life, there are advantages and disadvantages associated with getting plastic surgery abroad. If you have friends that have undergone plastic surgery abroad, you might already be familiar with the ups and downs of the experience. But, as we have mentioned many times before, plastic surgery is a personal experience, and there are no two patients alike.
The benefits of undergoing plastic surgery abroad
1. Reduced prices for cosmetic interventions
In most cases, it is not only the desire to travel to exotic countries that motivates people to undergo plastic surgery abroad, but the desire to save some money. While in recent years plastic surgery has become more and more available and affordable for people with different economic statuses, it is still quite costly to have it in the United States. The prices for the interventions can be up to five times lower in other countries such as Mexico or Thailand.
How can this be explained? Well, before anything else you need to know that in the United States, there are FDA regulations that are in place. This means the materials used (such as breast implants) are FDA approved and this guarantees they are safe to use for the patient and of a high quality. Then, we have the fees associated with the medical facility where the procedure takes place. Once again, safety regulations need to be in place for the well-being of the patient during and after the surgery. The other fees are the anesthetist and the plastic surgeon’s fee. If you are having plastic surgery in the United States and with a board-certified plastic surgeon, you know that the professional performing your procedure is highly trained and experienced. You can easily check his qualifications, even online.
When undergoing plastic surgery abroad, in a vast majority of cases, you don’t know who is going to perform the procedure and what his qualifications are, if he has any. Moreover, the facility can be very different from the pictures. Many patients that were interested in undergoing plastic surgery abroad aborted the mission after they got there and had a look at the so-called medical facility where their surgery was to be performed. You need to know that life-threatening complications can easily occur if safety protocols are not in place. Moreover, severe infections can be contracted during surgery that can be extremely difficult to deal with afterwards. There are many cases where people who underwent plastic surgery abroad died after the procedure was performed. In some cases, it was something as simple as a liposuction. You need to also consider the fact that whatever the country might be, an experienced plastic surgeon with credentials won’t be much cheaper than one in the United States. Keep this in mind when you are considering the cost as the main motivation to get plastic surgery abroad.
2. It can make plastic surgery look like a holiday instead of a surgical intervention
It is not a bad thing to see your intervention as a holiday in an exotic place, but remember to be aware of the fact that it is a surgical intervention nevertheless and one that entails certain risks and complications. The idyllic scenery that you have in mind when thinking about plastic surgery abroad can help take the edge off and reduce the anxiety that you can normally feel before any surgical procedure. There are tour operators that have built a business exactly on focusing on this point. However, you are going to get surgery there, not enjoy long afternoons on the beach. In a vast majority of cases and especially if your procedure is a complex one, chances are that you will only do some sightseeing on the route from the airport to the medical facility and back. And if you are meant to get back home within a week from the surgery date, the chances are that you won’t enjoy the return trip to the airport too much.
It is important to be aware of the fact that you won’t enjoy your holiday too much. Undergoing a buttock augmentation, for example, can be quite painful, and the fact that you are in a hotel bed on a beautiful island in Thailand won’t count that much after all. The reality is that you will soon realize the only thing you will need after the surgery is good post-operative care.
3. It doesn’t turn into a nightmare every single time
It might be funny that we chose this for a benefit, but many patients speak about it in these exact terms. Plastic surgery abroad is okay because it doesn’t turn into a nightmare in 100% of cases. Of course, there are patients who have traumatic experiences, with some of them going there and not getting to have the procedure they desired. Others have complications straight from the operative room, others develop them once they get home, but there are also some lucky few who are free from the hassle. But is it really worth risking your life with the hope that you won’t be like a vast majority of patients?
The disadvantages of undergoing plastic surgery abroad
1. It can be a nightmare in your case
A surgical intervention can be quite traumatic in terms of the emotional impact it has, even when performed in a safe environment and one that is familiar for the patient. But if you travel abroad to be faced with pain, discomfort, and the post-operative stress in a new environment with a medical staff that may not speak your language, things can be quite traumatic. Moreover, traveling for thousands of miles just a few days after the procedure is performed can be quite unpleasant. For many people, having to deal with staff that doesn’t understand your needs can be a trauma in itself. I had patients coming in for revision surgery complaining about the procedure they had abroad and the anxiety they experienced when realizing that the only words in English the staff knew were “You ok” and “Doctor be here now.”
2. The pre-operative evaluation is not a real assessment
The pre-operative consultation and the medical tests are mandatory for the patient as they give us an idea about his medical condition and if there are any contraindications for the procedure. But when undergoing plastic surgery abroad, the pre-operative consultation is either done by email or a day before the procedure is performed. And since these “plastic surgery packages” are usually paid in advance, there are little chances for the procedure to be postponed or not performed in case they discover a contraindication. And this is how people looking for a breast augmentation get a mastectomy after a while. You need to understand that nowadays, the United States is probably the safest choice in terms of plastic surgery in the world. The level of post-operative care is high and you can always check in with your plastic surgeon in case complications occur.
Moreover, you will have a conversation about your needs and expectations from the surgery with a doctor who might barely speak English. Keep this in mind when considering getting plastic surgery abroad.
3. There is no follow-up
One of the most important parts of the success of the intervention is the post-operative follow up. During these visits, the plastic surgeon gets the chance to evaluate the recovery, the cicatrization process, and also to diagnose potential complications promptly. If there are no follow-up consultations, the patient can develop complications or have abnormal scarring and not even be aware of it.
When considering plastic surgery abroad, many people think about the idyllic scenery and the financial savings. But if you are aware of what hides behind a lower cost, you might think again about undergoing plastic surgery abroad. Of course, there are advantages and disadvantages to doing so, and in today’s article we tried to discuss a few of these benefits and turn-offs. The important thing is for you to make an informed choice and always consider your health and well-being before anything else. If the financial issue is your main concern, you should know that nowadays, many plastic surgeons offer different payment options and you will surely find something that is suitable for you.