Summary: Plastic surgery tourism was once all the rage, until the risks became apparent. But has plastic surgery tourism become any safer? The answer isn’t entirely clear. But even if plastic surgery tourism is a bit safer than it used to be, it’s still an incredibly risky venture for patients.
Evaluation Whether Plastic Surgery Tourism has Become Any Safer
We write, occasionally, about the dangers of plastic surgery tourism. But things change, and you might be wondering: has plastic surgery tourism gotten any safer over time? The answer to that question is often quite complicated, especially when you consider that not every “tourist” has the same destination.
That said, plastic surgery tourism is certainly still a risky endeavor. Somehow, it’s also still quite popular. The thinking behind plastic surgery tourism is pretty simple: You want plastic surgery but can’t afford a U.S. based procedure. So, you venture to a country where—for various reasons—the procedure in question might be a little less expensive, even after factoring in the cost of the trip.
This type of tourism can seem like a win-win because it’s still tourism. You get to see the sights and have a nice vacation and, at the end of it, get a radical transformation. Recovery will either take place on site or at home, depending on the type of plastic surgery one decides to undergo.
Not as Great as it Sounds
This might sound wonderful. It might sound like an ideal situation, and that’s how a lot of people end up interested in plastic surgery tourism. But the reality is often quite different—and there are substantial risks involved. After all, it’s true that plastic surgery is often more expensive in the United States, but it’s more expensive for a reason.
When you get plastic surgery in the United States, you are generally going to see a surgeon who has been exceptionally well trained and vetted. For the most part, plastic surgeons operating in the United States have:
- Undergone years of rigorous training and schooling
- Graduated from residency programs (again, years of training and schooling)
- Access to the latest technologies and techniques
- Often undergone board certification (this certifies additional training and experience)
Plastic surgery in the United States is often amongst the safest and most effective in the world. Not only does this apply to the surgeons and their techniques, but their medical devices as well. The FDA usually does a very good job of ensuring that all medical devices (including, for example, breast implants) are relatively safe. You aren’t always guaranteed those protections abroad.
Cutting Corners to Cut Costs
The fact of the matter is that you’re never entirely sure what you’re going to get when it comes to plastic surgery tourism. Undoubtedly, there are some patients who have good outcomes. But the risk increases significantly when you leave the country to get your plastic surgery procedure.
There are some varied but important reasons for this:
- Safety standards are not uniform the world over; it’s difficult to know the safety and licensing standards when you’re abroad
- Any surgeon abroad will not have as easy access to your medical records as surgeons in the United States
- If develop complications in the months ahead, you will not be able to visit your surgeon in order to be treated—another surgeon or doctor will have to guess at your past treatment
- Medical devices, especially those purchased at a discount, can often be unreliable when there isn’t a process in place to ensure quality
- There are various unforeseeable risks when engaging in plastic surgery tourism
Indeed, it’s important to remember that plastic surgery is itself a risky endeavor. There are risks associated with every procedure. Plastic surgeons in the United States do a significant amount of work to ensure your procedure will be as safe and effective as possible.
It’s Not Just About Cost
So has plastic surgery tourism gotten any safe? Unfortunately, that’s tough to say. It’s true that not all countries have a bad track record when it comes to safety. And there are plenty of places in the world where plastic surgery is exceptionally popular, such as Brazil and South Korea.
But it’s not just safety records that make for a risky procedure. Unless you’re able to spend months in the vicinity of your surgeon once your procedure is complete, it’s hard for you to ensure you get proper follow up care. And that follow up care can often be incredibly vital to ensuring you get the results you’re after.
That’s why, in most cases, plastic surgery tourism simply is not worth the risk. It’s better to arrange financing options with your surgeon. It’s also better to simply delay getting your procedure until you can afford it. It’s not uncommon for plastic surgery tourism patients to end up spending more on their procedure due to unforeseen consequences.
Even if plastic surgery tourism has gotten safer (and I’m not saying it has), it still wouldn’t be worth the increased risk.