I'm planning to have a full body lift, breast implants, and a breast lift. After searching I have found a great price in Argentina. BUT I can't find any information of good and bad news, or reviews of international surgery. How do I make an informed decision on international surgery?
Plastic Surgery in Argentina?
Doctor Answers 5
There are more risks going out of your country
There is no question that there are good plastic surgeons in other countrys that are well trained and skilled. But there are inherent risks of going a long way from home that may not be in your interest other than the price.
I have been asked to be a visiting surgeon in a number of countrys, so I know what the conditions are that they operate in. There is no country that has more strick regulations in the world for safety than the good old USA. These regulations involve having emergency equipment, standards of sterility, no windows to have open during surgery, explicit record keeping, and the list goes on and on. In one country that I operated in at 3 different locations, two of them I had to ask them to close the windows and kill the flies in the OR before I would go forward. The last one had a nurse brushing her teeth in the OR. This isnt to say that we dont have bad places in the USA. It is just much easier to find out about them on the street, or through the medical boards of different states. We know what board certification in Plastic Surgery is here in the USA (and even that can be misleading at times), but in other countries, it is even more difficult for you to figure that out.
Other countrys can do it cheaper because they can cut corners here and there because of more lax regulations that allow them not to take certain measures which makes it cheaper for them to do surgery. For instance, if you are a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon, and a member of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, you have signed a promise to only operate in an accredited facility. A facility that has regulations and standards that are nationally recognized and trusted. So you know what you are getting if you have surgery here by an ASAPS member. There are no such guidlines out of the country.
The fact is that the type of surgery that you are going to have has wound healing problems. Not always big problems, but just difficult wounds to heal sometimes. Most plastic surgeons in the US are not interested in taking care of those complications when you did not have your surgery here. I have heard many plastic surgeons say to get on a plane and go back to the guy who operated on you if you have problems. The reason is that a complication is not fun to take care of. When you pay a plastic surgeon for surgery, it includes follow up care. So if you go out of the country, the guy you paid to do the surgery now isnt taking care of the problems that he should be taking care of.
I remember having a patient that came to me for a tummy tuck consult a few years back. She then told me she was going to Costa Rica to have surgery because she could have a facelift and a tummy tuck for what it cost here just to do the facelift. She came back a month later with a seroma from the tummy tuck. This can happen and is one of those wound healing problems that I was talking about. But when we put her on the OR table, her heart was doing weird things. I sent her to an internist to look at her heart. What they found was that she had been given blood for her surgery, and when they did, she got Malaria from that blood. She spent a week in the ICU, and even longer in the hospital. The ultimate cost in money was 5 times more to her to go to Costa Rica than what it would have been for her to stay in the good ol USA. Not to mention that the scars were not as good as what she would have gotten here, and that she would not have Malaria for the rest of her life.
I do wish you well and hope that everything works out well for you. My advice however would be stay close to home in familiar surroundings where you know the language, the customs and you have some recourse. Go to a member of ASAPS who is a known entity for your best chance of a good outcome.
Surgical and medical treatments abroad are truly much more competitive when it comes to cost, but the body lifting procedure is one that has enough challenges in the USA. I have treated a fair number of complications that patients suffered from upon returning back to the United States. Many people are unaware of the lack of insurance coverage after cosmetic surgery, which is only offered to board certified plastic surgeons for a period of time after patient surgery.
Even though you may wish to go abroad for your surgery, make sure that you take plenty of time during the recovery time so that if you do have a complication, there is someone to take care of you especially your surgeon.
Many MD's that are plastic surgery trained have certain criteria to follow even in Argentina, so check either with previous patients that have had surgery performed or check with their local medical board.
Finally, my recommendation would be to tread cautiously and choose a surgeon close to where you live so that you do not get into something that may save you money, but cost physical and finanical challenges for you down the road.
I agree with Dr. Khoobehi. Be cautious with medical tourism. Seek referrals from US citizens you know or can contact. Although none of us plan on having a complications, we generally have plans to manage these. Be aware that your legal recourse it practically zero. Also be aware that management of complications in the US may be exorbitant and far exceed the savings as well as not be covered by your health insurance.
Either plan on remaining in Argentina for adequate recovery, I would recommend a minimum of 2 weeks and would recommend longer.
Alternatively, making arrangements, ahead of time, with a local US physician who would manage your postoperative care once your return home is advisable.
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Argentina plastic surgery - beware
From your picture you will need total body lift. You also need breast lift. The main concern with the oversea surgery is the quality of the facility and your surgeon. There are great surgeons all over the world but you should be concern about the surgical facility and after care.
There are organizations in states that moniter and check the standards of the facilities here. There are strict guide line regarding sterility,medication and quality of nursing staff. It take a team to perform surgery safely. You need to find out who will handle possible complication and who is going to pay for the multiple trips. I have seen patients going to oversea or other states and having difficulty with after care and local doctor having difficulty finding out about the surgical details or implant information ( FDA has strict roles about drugs and implants).
The surgery that you need has higher rate of complication in the best of hands, so do not make your decision based on the fee only. If you decide to go to Argentina, check with the local medical societies and make sure to ask for referral from patient that been to your doctor from states. Good luck
Trouble in paradise
Unfortunately, no surgery is completely free of the risk of complications. In the case of medical tourism, complications become magnified by several factors including: the distance between the patient and the treating physician, unregulated foreign facilities/hospitals, unaccessible medical records or poor documentation, and often delayed post-complication care secondary to reluctance to seek medical attention after returning home.
It is unlikely that medical tourism, as a phenomenon will come to an end, rather, recent trends demonstrate an increase in popularity. It is vitally important that patients are educated about the risks of medical tourism so that they can minimize the likelihood of complications. Patients are encouraged to check the credentials of any potential surgeon (foreign or domestic). To aid this, the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons is developing a program to develop certification standards and recognize surgeons’ competency and dedication to patient safety (in a fashion similar to the American Board of Plastic Surgeons). Patients and physicians should also be aware of the U.S. Joint Commission on International Accreditation which to date has accredited some 80 hospitals in 18 countries.
Seeking care through a surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgeons is always regarded as a prudent choice. However, for those patients seeking care abroad, they need to be well informed of the added healthcare risks to aid them in making safer decisions.