RealStory: Here’s Why I Choose to Do My Plastic Surgery in the United States

Chako S. on 11 Apr 2014 at 2:20pm



With all the recent news headlines on medical tourism (especially to the Dominican Republic), the decision to have beauty procedures done here versus outside the country loom large. Our guest blogger Kimmers25, a 50-year-old working mother and community manager on RealSelf.com, takes us through the thought process on her big decision below, and why she decided to go stateside. Thank you for sharing, Kim!

DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed on this blog do not necessarily reflect those held by RealSelf or members of the RealSelf community.

When I started the planning for my tummy tuck, lipo, and breast reduction, I honestly considered going out of the country to save money first and foremost. And I’m not going to lie: The thought of recovering post-op amidst endless sun, sand, and sea didn’t sound like the worst thing in the world, either. As I started researching and weighing the pros and cons of having it done in Wisconsin or in another country, my decision became startlingly clear.

Below is a list of what I thought would be the pros of going out of the country:
  • It’s cheaper! The cost would be considerably less than any stateside options.
  • Exotic travel! I enjoy traveling and was very excited about the thought of getting my new body in a beautiful tropical locale.
  • It’s far from people I know. Being far away would give me the option to hide my surgery from everyone and simply tell them I was just going on “vacation.”
Here are the conclusions and realizations I personally came to once I started my research:
  • Expenses add up! Once I laid out the costs for all of my travel and the recovery house, I was actually not saving a ton of money. All of these costs killed the idea of saving any money.
  • No face-to-face with the doc. I realized I would not be able to meet with my foreign doctor in person prior to surgery, so I would essentially be going into the OR and meeting my doctor for the first time. While some would be okay with this, it wasn’t for me.
  • Hiding isn’t as fun as I thought. I would be far from home and the ones I loved. My friends and family wouldn’t be able to visit me during the most critical time in my recovery. I considered taking a friend along, but this would have further increased expenses!
  • Safety. I thought, “What if something happens during my surgery, and I either die or become seriously ill?” This thought alone could have been enough to turn me off the idea.
  • Safety Part II. Other countries may have lower standards for patient care than in the US. [Editor’s note: To have a presence on RealSelf, Dominican Republic Plastic Surgeons must be verified via The Dominican Society of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery (SODOCIPRE).]
  • Getting back home is risky. Travel by air within two weeks after surgery is dangerous. [Editor’s note: For more information on travel post-op, click here.]
  • Follow-up care is tricky... Who would do my follow-up care when I returned home? In my case, my American doctor definitely would not treat me for something that was done in another country.
  • … and ridiculously expensive! I discovered that my insurance would not cover any medical care due to complications from a surgery done outside the States. I would have had to pay out of pocket if I needed any care. And God forbid I end up in the ER or an ICU as a result of this surgery! I would seriously go broke trying to pay these bills! [Editor’s note: For more information on medical tourism, click here.]
As you can see from my much longer cons list, I opted to stay in my hometown for my procedures — and I’m glad I did! I felt so miserable the first two weeks post-op, and actually ended up needing follow-up care for 8-10 weeks. With all that going on, there’s no way I would have been able to enjoy a beach anyway! And the lengthy flight home would have been too much for me.

If you’re weighing foreign locations for your procedure, take time to exercise due diligence, research doctors, and weigh the options. Much of this information can be found within the Doctor Q&A pages and reviews sections here on RealSelf.com. And if you have further questions about my experience, feel free to reach out to me in the forums.

Have you decided to go out of the country for your procedure? Share your story in the comments below!

Photo credit: itraveldr on Instagram

Comments (6)

Kimmers, these are all familiar thoughts. I am deciding myself where to have my tt procedure. Great local doc, or risky (cheaper) Dominican Republic. Thank you for sharing and using pros and cons, this certainly helps me with my own decision.
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Thanks for sharing Kimmers, you sure did your homework and highlight the importance of doing so! Research is key to making an informed decision as if not well thought out one might bring about awful outcomes. 
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Thank you so much for sharing this, Kimmers!  

I ended up traveling for my surgery, though I stayed stateside (I traveled from California to Texas).  I agree so strongly with your pro and con lists.  I didn't do it to save money, but because I wanted to use a specific doctor.  Still, the costs add up, and though I need some minor revisions, I end up putting it off over and over because flying back to TX is so expensive and inconvenient.  

I'd probably end up making the same choice again, but it's definitely inconvenient!  For me, the fact that my doctor was the only one doing this procedure was the only thing that could induce me to travel for the op.
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I love reading what your thought process was while you were deciding on where to have surgery.The travel post-op sounds too painful and risky in my opinion.  And not being able to build a relationship with your doctor prior to surgery is also a red flag to me, I would want to be sure I felt comfortable with the person and that I felt they had my best interest at heart.  Thanks for sharing this!
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Thanks for all of that information, Kimmers. While I can see the pros and cons of each side, I think for me personally, being able to (or not being able to, as the case may be) get follow-up care once back home, is a huge issue.
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Kimmers, you bring up a great point about not actually being well enough to enjoy the beach. Good post. Thanks so much for sharing. Anxious to see what others have experienced.
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