Medical tourism has been in the news quite a bit over the last few years, but what is it? Medical tourism is when patients, who are often looking for the best “deal,” go outside of the United States for their surgical procedures. While there is no doubt that high quality plastic surgery exists outside of the U.S., it does come with increased risks.
Training and Credentials
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) cautions patients that it may be exceedingly difficult to assess the training and credentials of surgeons outside of the US, and that patients are at risk of choosing unqualified physicians and having procedures performed at non-accredited surgical facilities.
The U.S. healthcare system has an extensive and exhaustive system of checks and balances in place to ensure patient safety, whereas many of these other countries have far fewer safeguards.
Another concern should be about sterility and how medical equipment and supplies are handled or reused. Reusing supplies and improperly sterilizing equipment is one method of reducing costs but increases the patient’s risk for infections and other complications. In addition, the cosmetic surgery products and devices used in other countries may not have been tested, proven safe or effective, or been approved for use by the FDA. “Cosmetic” surgery is still real surgery which comes with the very real risks of infection, bleeding, poor cosmetic outcomes, pulmonary embolisms, and blood clots.
Follow-up care and monitoring is critical after any surgery. Patients who choose to have their surgeries performed outside of the U.S. have little to no follow-up care and may find it quite difficult to find a plastic surgeon in the U.S. to treat the problem or provide revision surgeries. Revision surgeries can be quite complicated with suboptimal aesthetic results and the costs are often not covered by insurance.
The Long View
Medical tourism and bargain surgery can be quite costly in the long run. Patients have to bear the brunt of the additional cost for revision surgeries and complications that may overall be more than the cost of the initial operation if it had been originally performed in the US. Additionally, if a patient suffers a medical emergency overseas, they may find that their health insurance may not provide coverage in a foreign country.
Do your research. Although it is tempting to go overseas to find the “best deal,” surgery performed by an unqualified surgeon or in a setting that is not safe can risk your health and result in poor outcomes and end up costing you more in the long run.
At Salmon Creek Plastic Surgery, we strive to provide the best care in the safest way possible and are here for you in case sometime goes wrong. Call us at (360) 823-0860 or contact us for a consultation.