A quick Google search of cosmetic surgery abroad, and you can find several horror stories enough to put anyone off. While every cosmetic procedure carries a certain degree of risk, you are more likely to have a case of plastic surgery gone wrong if you travel to what most people perceive as “cheap plastic surgery destinations.” So, why do people still do it, and what are the risks of getting cosmetic surgery abroad? Let’s find out.
Medical tourism is hugely popular. Patients travel abroad to receive cosmetic treatments at a fraction of the UK price, but at what cost? Every year, thousands of people book flights to cosmetic capitals of the world in search of a new body at a lower price. But, most people who opt to have plastic surgery abroad are unaware of just how serious of a risk these cheap cosmetic surgeries carry.
Why Do People Travel Abroad for Cosmetic Surgery?
One of the main reasons people travel abroad for cosmetic surgery is the low cost. In the UK, there are more regulations around cosmetic procedures, with most procedures being elective, making it difficult to obtain aesthetic treatments on the NHS. The only choice is to turn to private practices for aesthetic amendments. But private procedures are not cheap, so people opt to go abroad.
Compared to the UK, plastic surgery treatments in these countries are much cheaper. Therefore, going abroad for cosmetic treatments can reduce the cost. According to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS), opting to have plastic surgery abroad can bring down the cost of the procedure by 40-80%, depending on the country. But when it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
The other reason why more and more people are travelling abroad for cosmetic procedures is the wide range of cosmetic surgeries offered in some of these countries. Certain procedures banned in the UK are easily accessible in other countries and at a cheaper cost. Having cosmetic surgery abroad can also mean a shorter reduced wait time.
On the plus side, cosmetic procedures done abroad aren’t all bad. Sometimes you might want a procedure that only a certain specialist can perform. So, people travel abroad for specialist surgery they can’t get in the UK. It could be a surgeon well recognised in a specific field of cosmetic surgery with many client recommendations.
Some of the most popular destinations for cosmetic surgery abroad are Turkey, Poland, and the Czech Republic. India and Thailand are also growing in popularity. In general, you have to pay outright for plastic surgery. So, more and more people are looking outside of the UK for a cheaper alternative. Cost is one of the motivators behind cosmetic surgery abroad.
What are the Risks of Cosmetic Surgery Abroad?
For some, getting cheaper plastic surgery is too good to resist. While it may be more cost-effective, it comes with risks and can even prove fatal. Before you start booking your flights, you need to be aware of the dangers of cosmetic surgery abroad.
Air Travel After Surgery
One commonly asked question is, can you fly after plastic surgery? Any surgery comes with risks. But when you combine air travel and major surgery, it can be a disastrous mix. Long-distance travel immediately after surgery is potentially dangerous. Air travel after surgery involves sitting or standing for long periods, which is uncomfortable and can stress your surgical sites.
However, the biggest risk that comes with travelling too soon is an increased risk of developing deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. This happens when you sit for long periods, common with long-distance air travel. Prolonged sitting and poor circulation may lead to blood clots that then travel through the vessels to the lungs causing irreversible damage and, in worst cases, death. In general, air travel after surgery is not advised.
Different Standards and Checks
One of the reasons plastic surgery is expensive in the UK is that British practitioners have incredibly high standards to adhere to. There are certain costs associated with gaining the right accreditation in a very strictly regulated system. There are different standards, checks, and regulatory bodies in other nations. Because of that, it’s hard to know who is the best and which clinics and doctors to trust.
Open and honest communication is essential during the entire plastic surgery process. From the first cosmetic surgery consultation, effective communication will mean that you get the right treatment, have realistic expectations, and get the best results. If you’re dealing with language barriers or your surgeon doesn’t speak English, it can be difficult to assess your surgeon’s credentials, services, and options.
Device and Implant Safety
There have been many scandals involving substandard breast implants in the past years. Now more than ever, discussing implant safety before a cosmetic procedure with your surgeon is important. Medical standards, clinical testing and regulations are very different abroad, and many substandard devices and implants pass through the cracks.
Another concern when travelling abroad for cosmetic procedures is the potential for unsatisfactory results following the procedure. Every year, hundreds of patients visit plastic surgery clinics in the UK seeking revision procedures to correct botched surgeries they had abroad. Most cases of plastic surgery abroad gone wrong include major procedures like a mummy makeover and tummy tuck.
Safety Precautions to Take Before Getting Cosmetic Surgery Abroad
If you are still considering having cosmetic surgery overseas, there are certain measures you can take to minimise the risks associated with cosmetic surgery abroad.
The first step is educating yourself about the possible complications your surgery could have. Weigh all the pros and cons and decide if having surgery outside the UK is worth the reduced price tag.
You also want to have a clear plan in case anything goes wrong. Seek advice from a local respected plastic surgeon or an organisation like the British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAAPS). Here are factors to consider before travelling abroad for cosmetic surgery.
Surgeon’s Credentials and The Facility
Research the procedure and the surgeon beforehand. Take time to go through your chosen surgeon’s credentials and talk to them about any worries you may have. In some cases, it’s a bit trickier to get insight into things like the surgeon’s skills, equipment sterilisation practices and infection control standards put in place. If the clinic you are considering going to can’t confidently address these issues to your satisfaction, you might want to consider another option.
Air travel after surgery is a serious concern. Travelling long distances after a cosmetic procedure can lead to serious complications. If you have to travel, discuss travel safety with your surgeon. They should have a plan in place on how you can minimise these risks, even if it means not travelling back until after your recovery.
Cosmetic surgery requires ongoing care as you recover. You need to have a plan for appointments and costs that may follow after your surgery. Having surgery abroad means you may not be able to go for a post-op check-up with the surgeon. You may need to travel back and forth or stay in the country recovery for longer.
Although you may save money in the short term, consider the extra costs that may arise from a surgery gone wrong. The pitfalls associated with getting treatment abroad outweigh the cost-saving benefits for many.
You need to have confidence in the medical care that you will get. Without universal regulation, it can be challenging to assess your plastic surgeon’s performance, qualifications, and experience. It’s important that you trust someone who is completely qualified and experienced to achieve the results you want.