Medical Tourism for One of Many Cosmetic Procedures

If you were interested in doing several cosmetic procedures:

  • Botox
  • Fillers
  • Brow lift
  • IPL
  • Chemical peels
  • Liposuction

Which one would you have done abroad at a lower cost? (I am considering rhinoplasty but know how difficult that procedure is, so I would do it in the US.) Also, I would be able to spend several months abroad, and I speak several relevant languages, so follow-up visits/communication would not be as much of an issue.

Doctor Answers 2

Medical Tourism is Risky Business (for the patient)

I don't think you are aware of the risks and downsides of medical tourism (traveling abroad to undergo elective surgery). Medical tourism has becoming increasingly popular in recent years; patients have been flying out of the U.S. for plastic surgery, lured by lower prices.
However, a parallel trend has also appeared: plastic surgeons in the United States are finding themselves treating an increasing number of patients who plastic surgery abroad, correcting complications and errors. A survey by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons found that 80% of the responding doctors had treated American medical tourists for complications including infection, contour abnormalities, and hematoma.

Medical tourists are often led to believe that they will receive the same quality of care for a lower price in a foreign clinic. But while it is true that the cost of plastic surgery in some foreign countries is lower, this is often because the quality of care and surgery is compromised. Such patients also seem to neglect the possibility of complications and the need for a follow-up visit.

In addition to the risks posed by sub-standard medical care abroad, medical tourists must consider the risks of injections and implants in other countries. How do you know the Botox is not outdated, over or under diluted or even the real thing?? The recent crisis with French breast implant maker Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) exemplifies this problem. PIP used industrial- rather than medical-grade silicone on their implants in an effort to reduce costs, a measure which probably increased the danger of rupture. PIP implants have not been used in the United States since 2000. Removal of these implants has been recommended by the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

It is often the case that medical tourists end up spending more money because they have to pay to treat complications from their overseas surgery.

Source: The Cost of Medical Tourism – Medscape Medical News
Source: Official Statement on Faulty PIP and ROFIL breast implants – ISAPS

Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 154 reviews

Medical Tourism

The answer is - "How LUCKY Do you Feel?"

1. How do you know the "Botox" given to you is genuine (not fake of Gray market) / fresh / are not contaminated and are not over-diluted (watered down) and that the person injecting you knows what they are doing?

2. How do you know the fillers given to you is genuine (not fake of Gray market) / fresh / are not contaminated and that the person injecting you knows what they are doing?

3. How do you know the Surgeon operating on you is qualified (beyond what his / her website and sales people say)? WHO will take care of you if you have a complication or need re-do surgery?

Your linguistic skills may be outstanding. There are savings to be had. But - the question remains - WHAT HAPPENS IF THINGS DO NOT WORK OUT... how much of a gamble are you willing to take when you consider travel expenses and long-distance communication.

Dr. P. Aldea

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 108 reviews

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.