New Study Reveals Dark Side of Medical Tourism

Enticingly low prices coupled with exotic travel destinations have facilitated a recent rise in medical tourism for plastic surgery patients. Medical tourism, a term used to describe the act of seeking health care abroad, isn’t always the safest or cheapest option for plastic surgery procedures such as liposuction or breast augmentation, according to the results of a new survey.

“Usually people going abroad are not going abroad to the world’s expert on a procedure; they are going to have something done cheaper.  If you have any complications at all, it could end up costing you four to five times the amount if you would have if you just stayed here in the first place,” said Dr. Mark Elliott, a board certified surgeon and advisory board member for

According to the survey, which received responses from nearly two-thousand ASPS board certified plastic surgeons, nearly 80 percent of respondents had previously treated patients for complications following plastic surgery procedures abroad. The majority of these patients were treated for post-operative infections.

Additionally, the study also claimed that nearly half of medical tourists receiving breast augmentation or body contouring procedures such as liposuction required numerous surgeries to correct complications incurring from their initial surgery. Many of the surgeons surveyed felt that a lack of post-operative care was a main contributing factor to many of these complications.

“The process of surgery really encompasses a good analysis, a carefully done operation, and very careful post-operative care. To give up post-operative care you’re assuming you won’t have questions, problems, or any complications afterward. And quite frankly, I think it’s naïve and unsafe,” said Dr. Lou Bucky, a board certified surgeon and advisory board member for

While choosing plastic surgery abroad isn’t necessarily a poor decision, patients unfortunately aren’t doing their research. Finding references and information on surgeons abroad can also prove to be far more difficult. Ditching the beach for local care may just be the safest option.


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