What are the precautions to take when traveling to another country to get a lipo done? Flying from New Zealand to Panama.

I live in New Zealand where plastic surgery is extremely expensive and not very popular. I'm planning to travel to Panama to have a lipo and Brazilian buttocks. I have contacted a plastic surgeon (Dr. Lenin Almanza) who suggested after seeing my photos that I can have a Vaser Hi Def lipo. I'm a bit afraid as a trip from New Zealand to Panama takes more than 24 hours.How long should I stay before jumping on a plane to start a long flight? I have family there and can stay as long as needed. Thanks

Doctor Answers 5

Medical Tourism?

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There is no way for us to tell you whether the clinic that you've selected is safe or unsafe.  Similarly, we can't judge the experience, availability and results of a specific surgeon.  You must do your due diligence and weigh the risks of possibly having a complication, alone in a foreign country.  Be certain that you are confident in the quality of care that you will receive because sometimes patients find no doctors available or interested in helping if things don't go according to plan.  I would want to be certain that you know several people who have travelled to this clinic for successful treatment rather than just having responded to an advertising campaign.

Best wishes,

Jon A Perlman MD FACS 

Certified, American Board of Plastic Surgery 

Extreme Makeover Surgeon ABC TV

Best of Los Angeles Award 2015, 2016 

Beverly Hills, Ca

Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Medical Tourism...Lipo-tourism?

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Understanding why cosmetic surgery tourism is an attractive option for those seeking plastic surgery is not difficult. Who would not be interested in combining what many believe to be “minor” surgery with travel to an exotic destination at a fraction of the cost of the equivalent procedure at home? What is easily overlooked in the excitement of monetary savings are the potential physical and health costs associated with post operative complications (both in terms of the patients financial liability and subsequent morbidity).

Unfortunately no surgery is free of the risk of potential complications. In the case of lipo-tourism, complications can be magnified by multiple factors:

-Unregulated foreign facilities and hospitals

 -Unaccessible medical records or poor documentation

-Delayed post complication care due patient reluctance to seek medical attention after returning home

It is unlikely that this phenomenon will come to an end, rather, trends demonstrate an increasing popularity. It is vitally important that patients are educated about the risks of lipo-tourism so that patients 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 risks to aid them in making safer decisions.

Specific to your plan, I would recommend staying local for at least 2 weeks. This will allow for adequate follow up. Be sure to wear compression on the flight home. Finally, remember any surgery or surgeon can develop a complication. We all have them. These can be magnified when you find yourself an ocean away from your physician.

Best of Luck!

Donovan Rosas, MD
Kissimmee Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Traveling for liposuction

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Being located in Beverly Hills, the mecca of plastic surgery, I have patients fly in from around the world to have surgery (many of whom come from New Zealand). It is safe to travel for liposuction as long as you are having surgery with a board certified plastic surgeon with extensive experience. There are a lot of phenomenal qualified plastic surgeons in South America, but there are also a lot of unqualified plastic surgeons there. So please make sure the surgeon you are going to has the appropriate credentials and surgical precision needed for a safe and successful liposuction outcome. For my international patients, I generally tell them to plan on staying in Beverly Hills for a minimum of 10 days following surgery, and if they can I recommend a full 14 days before getting on a plane. So you should plan to stay in Panama for 14 days following surgery if possible. Good luck!

Jimmy S. Firouz, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 18 reviews


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Thank you for your question. We receive lots of clients from Australia and New Zealand here in the DR and i would recommend to stay at least for 12 days here in the country before travelling for such a long flight. Best of luck    

Derby Sang Caputo, MD
Dominican Republic Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 99 reviews

New Zealand to Panama for liposuction

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Thank you for asking about your 24 hour travel for liposuction.

  • Unless you are going for a vacation, this is in my opinion ill-advised.
  • You are going to a foreign tropical country and presumably do not speak the language nor know your surgeon.
  • I am a New Zealander and this is not a trip to take when having surgery, if it is avoidable.
  • If you insist on doing so, please do the following:
    First have your family visit the surgeon and inspect the facility.
  • If it is not accredited and the surgeon not a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon - stay away.
  • Second, plan to stay two weeks.
  • Third wear knee high compression hose going to Panama and returning
  • Get up and walk up and down the plane every 2 hours without fail 
  • Although liposuction itself is usually fairly safe - provided the amount removed is less than 5 L total, fat injections to the buttocks are not risk free - a group of eminent South American plastic surgeons recently were brave enough to publish their death rate, drawing attention to this rarely discussed problem.
  • Under no circumstances whatsoever, have anyone do a BBL for you unless they are a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon.
  • Personally saving the money to do it in New Zealand or Australia is wiser
  • Always see a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. Best wishes  - Elizabeth Morgan MD PHD FACS

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.