“Medical tourism” describes traveling abroad for medical care. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that nearly 750,000 Americans travel to another country annually for medical care. This is especially popular in plastic surgery circles, as patients choose to combine an international vacation with cosmetic enhancement. Also, plastic surgery is often advertised at cheaper prices in other countries.
However, medical tourism is dangerous and, in some cases, even deadly. Here, Drs. Samuel Pearl and Alexander Ereso explain why you should avoid traveling abroad for plastic surgery.
Communication Hurdles Are Problematic
Traveling to a country where you don’t speak the language fluently is a problem, especially when receiving medical care. If you do not understand your physician’s pre- or post-operative instructions, or you develop an inexplicable complication, the misunderstanding can be fatal.
The Standard of Care Is Different
Other countries do not have the stringent medical standards that we enjoy in the United States. Facilities may be disorganized or dirty, medications may be counterfeit and doctors may not follow hygienic practices.
Plastic surgeons in other countries are not subject to the standards that American doctors are. They may not have the training or skill set necessary to perform complex plastic or reconstructive surgery operations.
In the worst-case scenario that your surgeon is negligent or something goes awry during your procedure, you probably won’t have solid grounds for legal recourse, either. You don’t have any laws protecting you or mandating the training and qualifications of foreign plastic surgeons.
Little Time/Energy for Tourism
Many people want to combine normal tourist activities with their operation, but recovering from a surgical procedure is challenging. You will feel groggy for the first day or so after surgery, and your range of motion will be severely limited. You will probably be confined to your bed or couch as your body heals. This leaves you little to no opportunities to explore your surroundings and soak up the local culture. And, even if you can walk around, you can’t participate in any physical activities (e.g., swimming, hiking). By the time you have enough energy to explore, it’s time to fly home!
Affordable and safe plastic surgery is available much closer to home. Dr. Pearl and Ereso are plastic surgeons who practice in Mountain View, Calif., and serve all surrounding areas. To schedule a consultation with the doctors and discuss your options, please call (650) 964-6600 today.