Breast Implants Outside US - How Long Before I Can Safely Fly Home?

I am researching surgeons and the implant process in Costa Rica. (Husband's co worker has 2 family members who have used same surgeon in CR and highly recommend.) I am not sold on the idea.

I am concerned with the time issue (along with other things). How long after surgery do I need to wait before flying home? Or is flying after surgery not even a valid concern? We were planning on a 10-14 day trip. Having the surgery on day 3-4 hopefully. Please advise! Yes, we are on a budget...but I want to do this as SAFELY as possible.

Doctor Answers 10

Air travel after breast augmentation

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There is going to be a wide variation of opinion on this issue, however I feel that it should be safe to fly home after breast augmentation three to five days after your surgery. Bleeding after augmentation is the greatest immediate risk, and should be apparent by three days after if it is going to occur. Your flight home in a good snug bra should be safe and comfortable, provided that someone else will do the lifting for you. Complications such as infection, or a poorly placed implant can be seen later, after you are home, and you might consider who will care for you after your return to the US.

Some final thoughts, breast augmentation is subject to regional differences, and you will want to look the way you want after the procedure, not the way someone else has decided for you. If you do not feel the surgeon you have selected is intent on providing the result you want, in a safe and accredited environment, follow your instincts. The 'saving' is not worth cost.

Best of luck,


Breast augmentation in Costa Rica

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You should plan to stay at least 10-14 days after surgery in the event of complications.  While there are many excellent, qualified surgeons outside of the US, you should carefully research yoru surgeon's credentials to make sure that you are in the best of hands.  Once your surgery is done and you are back in the US, if you have any problems, it won't be easy to make another trip to Costa Rica.  Best wishes and good luck, /nsn.

Costa Rican breast augmentation

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If you choose to do this you should stay 2 weeks after surgery because it is possible to get a hematoma by raising your heart rate and blood pressure for 2 weeks after surgery.

Please consider that if you have any problems afterward like size concerns, capsular contracture or asymmetry it will cost you much more to fix these if you have to find a US surgeon who didn't do your original surgery.

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Breast Implants on the fly

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A short comment on operation overseas. Even if you carefully chose your surgeon, you need to consider the consequences and cost of complications, should you have them. Such complications will eat away any savings you realized by having the surgery abroad.

A breast augmentation is not a very complicated procedure and you should be able to travel with 5-7 days after surgery. For extra safety, I would recommend waiting 7-10 days before flying / traveling anywhere for more than an hour at a time. (Flying from Seattle to Costa Rica is 3411 miles, over a thousand miles father than flying across country to New York)

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon

Surgery in South/Central America

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Hi there-

Because I practice in Central Florida, I am FREQUENTLY contacted by women who have gone to Central or South America for Plastic Surgery...

Why am I hearing from them? Because after returning, they have problems requiring attention. That's bad....

Here's what you should know:

  1. While I am convinced there are many very good plastic surgeons outside of the US, I am not convinced that the standard of care is as high in some locations.
  2. The quality of materials used is not always as high as what we are used to in the US. I have noted on several occasions when I have needed to remove implants from patients for infection that the implants used were of poorer quality and not approved by the US FDA.
  3. Your surgeon is NOT the only important variable- who is to say the quality of the anesthesia personnel, nursing staff, and facility are as high as what we are used to in the US?
  4. When you do return, any care you require for unforeseen problems will be at your expense. Your insurance company will not care that your problem may be life threatening- as soon as it is clear it resulted from cosmetic surgery, and that the surgery was outside the US, they will remove themselves immediately.
  5. Many of these women I have met end up spending a LOT more money for me to fix their problems than they would have spent if they had had their surgery with me in the first place.
  6. On more than one occasion, the problem was not possible to correct- leaving the patient with permanent deformity.

Furthermore, finding a US plastic surgeon to help you if you do have a problem may become a lot more difficult soon-

  1. I am aware of at least one case here in Florida where a patient returned from abroad with a postoperative complication
  2. A well-meaning Good Samaritan US plastic surgeon intervened on her behalf and did the best he could to help her, but the outcome was poor despite his best efforts, due to what had been done before his meeting the patient, and her condition at the time of his involvement.
  3. Despite her own responsibility for her outcome and safety, and for the decisions she made that resulted in her poor outcome, and despite the fact that the American Plastic Surgeon was doing his best to help her through a difficult problem that was not his responsibility, the patient sought and found an attorney.
  4. The attorney advised her that the foreign plastic surgeon was beyond their reach, but that the American plastic surgeon was not.
  5. Guess what happened.... Yup- the poor American plastic surgeon who played the Good Samaritan got sued.

At the very least, I am changing the informed consent procedure for patients like this in my own practice, and won't be surprised if most surgeons outright refuse to see patients with problems after surgery abroad.

I understand the urge to save money if possible, but don't understand how doing so at the possible risk of health and happiness makes any sense.

There are many excellent plastic surgeons in your area. I would be very careful about this.

Breast implants outside the USA: medical tourism

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Bleeding and infection are the two most serious concerns after breast surgery and these are more likely to be apparent by 10 days after surgery. However the greatest issue is more likely to be less dramatic and involve minor questions concerning recovery, acitivities, asymmetry, long term results, etc. Trying to communicate and get answers for these long distance is very difficult. Your surgeon will most likely advise you to come in for a visit and that is not practical. In the event you need a touch up procedure, it will be difficult to find a surgeon willing to take your case and it will likely cost you much more than you ever saved.

Your friends may have been lucky or this may be one of the best surgeons in the world

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But no matter who does your surgery, there is always the potential for things to not go perfectly. Even if you have a minor problem, such as making a bad scar or displacement of you implant, your surgeon is a long way away.

I'd recommend finding someone closer to home that is within your price range and who is reputable.

Safety with plastic surgery

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Your last comment in your question begs the discussion that many of my colleagues are getting at. If SAFETY is your primary concern, I would strongly recommend a surgeon who is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and who has the experience and credentials to practice in the United States.

Surgeons in this country are held to strict standards in manners ranging from training to sterility in the operating room- these standards are not often met overseas. Having had to deal with many complications in patients who have had surgery in Central and South America, I strongly urge patients who are interested in a safe approach to reconsider surgery outside of the US.

If you do decide to go overseas, I would suggest at least a 2 week postoperative stay that may be longer if you develop any complications. Having seen patients "shipped" back home with infections and wounds that their overseas surgeons could not or did not want to deal with, I would remember that your postoperative course may be longer than you expect.

Breast implants overseas

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I would tell you that you are better off having the surgery in the US close to home.  If you have a problem, what are you going to do?  Fly back to Costa Rica?

Travel after overseas surgery

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The offer you cite is indeed very compelling and there are certainly a number of qualified plastic surgeons around the world. There is of course the issue of travel expense, and accomodations in addition to the surgeon's charges. More important than when you travel home is long-term care.

If you were to have your surgery closer to home, you could always see your plastic surgeon for any issues that might arise, and many of the potential problems with breast implants don't manifest within the first week or two. There are also pre-surgery issues, such as discussions about selecting size, type of implant, where to make the incisions, under muscle or over, all of which should be discussed with the surgeon well in advance so you have time to be comfortable with the decision.

If you do go overseas, I would suggest checking to be sure that the surgeon is a member of the International society of plastic surgeons, which you can do at

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.