Is 10 Recovery Days Enough for Multiple Procedures Abroad?

I'm thinking of going abroad to have a breast lift, tummy tuck, back liposuction. Will 10 days be long enough?

Doctor Answers 16

The Surgeon's Role Does NOT End in the Operating Room

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I am sorry to pick on you, Shocking666, but I don't think you are being safe.

As a plastic surgeon in California, USA, I take care of 5-10 patients annually, whose aesthetic surgeries were botched during Mexican plastic surgery adventures. To me, the thought of obtaining medical care—especially surgery—outside of the USA is ridiculous. Many plastic surgery procedures come with significant risks. For example, most honest American/European/Asian research studies of breast reductions report 30-40% rates of complications! For tummy tucks, 25-35%! Many of these complications do not manifest themselves for 2-3 weeks.

So, what are you going to do if you have a complication? Take a boat back to Thailand? Fly back to India? Who is going to take care of your complication at 3 am Sunday morning?

Well, in my community, I do. So, yes, I am bitter. I do resent going to the emergency room in the middle of the night to take care of a patient who had bad surgery done by a foreign doctor who had no intention of looking after her.

And, frequently, my hands are tied because I do not know the details of the surgery. Is the patient supplied with information regarding antibiotic usage? Suture type? Implant size and manufacturer? The answer is always, “No.” Have the patients and I ever been able to obtain this information from the foreign surgeon? Almost never. Ultimately, my management of the patient’s complications is necessarily suboptimal because I do not have the specifics.

I certainly admit that not every physician in the United States (or the UK) is outstanding. In fact, while there are approximately 60,000 American physicians performing cosmetic procedures, only 6,000 of us are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Certainly, we need to clean up our own backyard.

Likewise, I am more than happy to refer patients to any number of outstanding plastic surgeons from the Third World. Many of the world’s leaders in plastic surgery come from Mexico, Costa Rica, Brazil, Turkey, Sinagpore, etc.

But if you're going to get plastic surgery in the Third World, then do it right. Make sure that the surgeon is truly Board Certified. Which Board? The plastic surgery board or the general surgery board? Is the facility accredited? What's the policy for complications? Who do you call in the middle of the night? And, then plan to stay down there (for at least a month), so that you can follow-up with your own doctor.

In most cases, even some of my Third World plastic surgery colleagues who are fantastic surgeons are not right for my Californian patients. Follow-up is a crucial part of any surgery. Surgical care does not end when you leave the operating room! Patients need to be nursed through complications. Patients need reassurance; they must have the opportunity to come to see me, any day of the week and any time of day, to make sure that their experiences are “normal.” Patients need continued compassion.

And a doctor can’t do any of those old-fashioned duties across the globe.

Moreover, a doctor needs to see his/her results. How can I make improvements in my technique if I don’t get to see my results after complete healing? This might be the biggest flaw of the cross-border surgeons. They don’t even know that they are continuing to make mistakes, because they never see their own complications.

Some things just shouldn’t be “out-sourced.” Medical care is one of them.

Ventura Plastic Surgeon

Plastic surgery abroad: Medical tourism and length of stay

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For any surgery, the major risks fall into specific time periods.

For example:

  1. Bleeding may occur within the first 24 hours
  2. Wound dehisence may occur between 7-10 days
  3. A Secondary period of bleeding may occur at 10 days

Of course there are multiple other complications but we tend to prefer that our out of town patients remain around for about 2 weeks.

This is not always possible and so we request that if patients leave sooner, they make arrangements or be prepared to have a local physician who can manage the complications or go to the emergency room.

Recovery for breast lift, tummy tuck and back liposuction abroad

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Absolutely not! (Way too short of a recovery period in MY opinion).

I am ASSUMING you are travelling from the UK to far away exotic destinations (?South Africa, Eastern Europe, India or Thailand) where the costs are cheaper.

But you must factor a few other things in your plans.

The procedures you describe, if done well, run well over 6-7 hours and will cause soreness of the trunk (front and back) as well as of the breasts. In addition, despite the best intentions, they are associated with a high rate of blood clots in the legs and pelvis which will be exacerbated by a prolonged flight and may translate to blood clots to the lungs, which could be fatal.

Should these or ANY other serious complications supervene while you are abroad, the cost of caring for them will rise rapidly and your emotional support system would be nil.

Should you return with such a complication back to the UK (or the US), you would have a hard time finding a receptive Plastic surgeon who would be willing to assume the rather thankless job of managing and trying to correct your complication(s), especially knowing that he/she were previously passed over by you for a better "deal" abroad.

666, UNLESS you are divinely guaranteed a bump-free / complication free / 100% successful procedure (and I seriously doubt the Big Celestial Guy still spends his time communicating with us mortals on such mundane topics) - I would seriously reconsider your plans.

Good Luck either way.

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon

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Recovery from multiple surgeries

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First of all, if you were my patient, I would not be willing to do back liposuction the same day as a tummy tuck and breast lift. Secondly, the minimum time for recovery where you have surgery is 2 weeks, no less. Thirdly, realize that there is nobody who will want to take care of you when you come home if you have any problems because they didn't do your surgery.

Traveling abroad also puts you at the mercy of a doctor who has not passed exams by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Why on earth would you do this????? Money is not a good reason to put yourself in harms way.

Recovery Time in a Foreign Country after Surgery?

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Based on the number/nature of the procedures you are contemplating,  I would suggest that you be in the  surgeon's country at least for 3 to 4 weeks after surgery.  Be prepared for additional time of stay if complications arise.

Best wishes

Overseas surgery for multiple procedures

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I realize that the other surgeons have already said this, but I'll repeat it for the sake of stressing its importance. Please think very carefully about going overseas for surgery, and about having so many procedures done at once. You will be at high risk for complications even if you are not planning to travel afterwards. I would recommend waiting at least 2 weeks prior to travel. You should see your primary care physician in the UK for a full evaluation, as this person knows your medical condition better than your doctor overseas. Good luck, /nsn.

Tummy Tuck, Breast Lift, Liposuction time off

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For your sake I hope going abroad meas to the US for your surgery. Either way 10 days is not long enough. It is not uncommon for drains to be in for 2 weeks following abdominoplasty. And you should be seeing your surgeon for at least the first 3-4 weeks. What will you do for further follow up visits or complications. Surgery in you own country or a month in another is the best.

Plastic Surgery Abroad

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The procedures you are contemplating involve a substantial amount of risk and will require careful followup by your plastic surgeon. Ten days is not enough time for you to recuperate before getting on a plane and possibly risking complications such as pulmonary embolism (blood clot to the lungs). My advice is to have the surgery done in your own country by a reputable plastic surgeon who will be there for you should future problems arise.

Pamela B. Rosen, MD
Coral Springs Plastic Surgeon

Recovery time for surgery

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Having multiple procedures over seas is certainly obtainable, but I wold caution you on the recovery period. In many cases, 10 days should be OK or even two weeks.  But, if you have a complication you will need a lot more time.  Being far away from your doctor is not a great thing.

Problems With Medical Tourism, and Some Solutions

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I agree that 10 days is cutting it a bit short.

I realize there are financial benefits to travelling, but its important to remember that there are some things you need to consider:

  • No insurance coverage: many plans wont help if you have a procedure overseas and develop a probem, so check into this before leaving
  • No legal protecton: not much to do about this
  • No longterm aftercare: you should find a practitioner willing to take on your care before you leave
  • Increased blood clot risk from surgery + travel: check with your primiary doc and the surgeon aout preventative measure and medications you may need
  • Harder to get revisions: find out your docs policy here. Are you responsible for travel, OR, and anesthesia if a touch-up is needed ?

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.