Written by Siam Benji
Millions of people in the US regularly undergo some type of cosmetic procedure each year but this does not mean that the procedures are cheap. If there is one fact about cosmetic surgery that all consumers should know is that this profession is a mega-billion dollar business and every procedure is expensive. And no cosmetic procedure is covered by any type of health insurance plan. Since the cost of cosmetic surgery are always going up, many americans now regularly go abroad to get their wrinkles erases, their face-lifted and breasts augmented. Just to the south in Mexico, there are hundreds of cosmetic surgery clinics which cater strictly to americans. Anything you do not like about your body, these clinics will gladly modify, tuck, remove, reshape and recontour for you at nominal cost.
Asides from Mexico there has been a boom in medical tourism all over the globe. One can go to Brazil, India, Thailand, Korea, Israel, South africa, Dubai, Argentina, Costa rica and many other countries- and all these countries offer cosmetic surgery at a far lower cost than the US. In addition, countries like Thailand will also throw in a spa vacation, and if you go to south africa, you can get to recover on a wild african safari. In Costa Rica, the recovery is in 5-star hotels overlooking the tropical rain forests.
Many americans have had their cosmetic surgery abroad and anecdotal reports indicate that they are satisfied. So should americans start flocking abroad for cosmetic surgery?
No so fast say the experts.
While most of the above countries may offer cheaper cosmetic surgery and you may also get to see the Taj Mahal or get to taste exotic Thai cuisine, surgery in these countries is not without risk.
Here are some things you should consider before you even consider going abroad for cosmetic surgery.
First, you have no way of knowing who will be your surgeon and if he or she is even qualified. There have been many cases of americans who have been operated by people who were absolute butchers. Just because you sign up with a online clinic in thailand for a cosmetic surgery procedure does not mean the surgeon is qualified and you have no idea who will put you to sleep.
Secondly cosmetic surgeons all over the globe are in the business of making money and when you get offered cheaper procedures, it means the surgeons are cutting corners. For example, in india, surgeons are notorious for reusing surgical equipment or using inferior products. You have no idea what type of dermal filler is being injected in you or what type of implant you are getting in your breast. You just have to take the word of the surgeon.
Third, like all surgeries, cosmetic surgery is also associated with its share of complications. And in many cases, these complications do not crop up right away. For example, your breast implant may not leak for a few weeks or months, or your tummy tuck may fall apart after you arrive back in Milwaukee. It is very unlikely that you will fly all the way back to Cape Town to get the complication fixed. So whatever complication you develop, you will need more money to get it fixed in the US.
So what can you do to lower your risk of complications?
First make sure the surgeon is licensed and accredited. Ask if the surgeon is accredited with the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Read online reviews about the clinic and the doctors. Talk to other people who have had surgery in that place. Since you are paying, ask all the questions you want. Remember cosmetic surgery is never an emergency- it is purely an elective procedure and the more homework you do before you depart, the lesser the risk of problems later on.
Even when you get to the place, simply do not undress and get on the operating room table. If none of the staff or the surgeon speak english, then the best advice is just enjoy the holiday and forget the surgery. The ability to communicate is vital for the success of your surgery. Ask to speak to the surgeon and get to know first hand what he or she is all about. Determine the bedside manners, the professionalism and ask for before and after pictures. Ask to see the clinic and where the surgery will be done and where you will be recovering. Speak to the staff and walk around the clinic. Ask about the surgery procedure, how long it will take and what will happen if there is a complication. Is there an extra charge to take care of your blood clot?
Remember in most countries outside the US, you have no recourse against the surgeon. Medical malpractice is alien in other countries. Secondly ask what type of confidently the clinic will maintain regarding your medical information. Before you even embark on this trip you should know your legal rights in that particular country.
Know what you are getting into when going abroad- everything looks glossy and picture perfect on youtube but in reality things can be different. Going thousands of miles to another country and having surgery is a difficult proposition for most people and you have to be prepared for the unexpected. For example, if you develop a blood after surgery, will that treatment be covered with your cosmetic surgery and how much more will it cost? Can you fly back home with your complication?
Finally ask yourself why you even need cosmetic surgery and if you can afford it. Granted, everyone wants to look beautiful and young, but unfortunately cosmetic surgeons have created many myths and make false promises about their procedures; in most cases the ‘ageless’ look is transient. If you are really desperate for cosmetic surgery and have decided that you want it done, speak to people who have gone abroad and even when you get to the destination, remember, you are not bound by law to have the surgery. If there is any doubt in your mind about the surgeon or the clinic, step back and just enjoy the vacation- in life one frequently does not get second chances.