Gambling with your life, the dangers of international plastic surgery.
With the increasing globalization of all industry medical tourism is becoming a popular way to get medications and dental services on the cheap. Unfortunately this trend has expanded to surgical procedures and thousands of Americans each year travel abroad for their “nip and tuck.” While on the surface this may seem like a bargain the results can be disastrous.
The problems that arise are many and can result in devastating consequences, especially if a budget was already stretched and the cost to obtain care in the US for problems was not considered. While several issues arise when thinking about the medical tourism market a few major points come to mind.
Surgical safety. International surgeons do not have the same standard we have here in the US. Their training is much less extensive and more importantly the standards for surgical operating rooms in some cases are non-existent. Each year many Americans die abroad in overseas operating room disasters gone wrong. For breast augmentation, non-FDA approved implants are commonly used as they are cheaper and widely available. These implants are potentially unsafe and are much more likely to be recalled as seen recently with French PIP implants last year. A few years ago I had the unsettling job of telling a patient that it appeared she had contracted Hepatitis C from an international surgery. At the time she was admitted to the hospital for several days as a result of problems that occurred from an international surgery and the subsequent surgeries that needed to be done to correct those issues once she returned to Austin.
Follow-up care is non-existent. As a busy plastic surgeon my days are filled with new patients, but also caring for post-operative patients to make sure their outcome is progressing on course and problem free. While overall surgical problems are low, they can happen to anyone and often patients will need multiple visits and occasionally additional procedures to correct these issues. When traveling internationally you will typically return home well before your follow-up period is done and are putting yourself at a tremendous risk by putting so many miles between you and your surgeon. When you do return and need care this will typically be several times the price of the initial surgery as the surgeon who treats you is basically agreeing to assume the risk and problems you have by helping you.
Travel can pose an issue. Long plane or car trips are usually required for international surgery. These long journeys put you at a very high risk for deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism where clots form in your legs from immobility and travel. These clots can be life threatening and are probably the most common cause of post-operative death in surgery.
While international surgery may seem like a vacation with the plus of a discounted operation the reality is that many Americans are slapped with poor results and high bills for the care they need once they return with problems. The safest option, even in the US, is to choose a board certified surgeon with significant experience in the operations you want who practices within a few hours of your home. At Synergy Plastic Surgery we pride ourselves in the follow-up care we provide and for cosmetic patients your initial follow-up care is always included in the price of the operation so that there are no barriers to patients seeking help and getting their questions and concerns addressed in a timely manner.
To learn more about our practice visit us on the web at www.synergyplasticsurgery.com or call 512-244-1444