Traveling long distances for surgery increases the risks of a tummy tuck
A tummy tuck or abdominoplasty is a fairly involved procedure and it would be safer if it were performed locally. If it is truly necessary that your facial surgery be performed by a surgeon who is 4 hrs away, then is would probably be preferable to separate the procedures and have the tummy tuck done at a different time. Since both procedures are time consuming this is not a bad idea even if they were both done locally. If you ultimately decide to combine the procedures I would recommend staying in the area for at least 2 weeks after the surgery.
I hope this will be of some help as you make your decision. Good luck and best wishes to you.
Have a Tummy Tuck or Facelift locally or across the country
I agree with the two comments below.
American Plastic surgery has come a long way. New innovations are rapidly and widely implemented. As much as me, Dr. Moelleken and Dr. Rand would like you to come to see us, we know that you are much better served by having a local surgeon see after you. These days every major city, especially Chicago, has several excellent Plastic surgeons who could JUST as well perform the vast majority of procedures as the surgeon you have in mind 4 plane hours away.
This is not only an issue of convenience, of comfort and one of avoiding potential blood clots (DVT) but one of continuity of care. You may be one of the few patients who suffers surgical complications ; an infection, a blood collection, a wound separation etc. You would not have an easy time finding a local Plastic surgeon in Chicago to willingly step in and take over the care of such a complication knowing that he/she was passed in favor of an out of town surgeon when you had the operation. This is THE number one reason why medical tourism can be really dangerous for your health.
Dr. P. Aldea
Combined face and tummy cosmetic surgery
First, I would recommend separating the procedures into 2 operations. This frees you up to go elsewhere for the face and it is safer too.
Secondly, Chicago has many outstanding plastic surgeons (Dr. Placik on RealSelf for example). If there is a surgery which only someone out of Chicago will do, this is a huge red flag about the surgery or the surgeon claiming they know something no one else does. Be very careful not to be fooled by these things and don't get hung up on wanting a "named" procedure. Go to the best doctors and tell them what you hope to achieve and then ask them what they think will get you there. I'd stay in Chicago for everything personally.
Out of town plastic surgery tips
This is a very good question. First, I am not sure if you are having a face lift , rhinoplasty ,or a minor facial procedure done. I would advise against doing a tummy tuck with a facial procedure which takes longer than one hour to perform well. My concern is the prolonged anesthesia time. The current recommendation by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons is to limit elective outpatient anesthesia time to 6 hours or less.
If you must travel for your surgery, I recommend planning to stay locally for at least 2 weeks, (4 weeks is optimal) since complications, although rare, may occur. Most commonly, minor wound infection or break-down may occur and you don't want to travel back and forth. I also recommend driving rather than flying as the take-off and landing can be rough.
Since you live in Chicago, you need to be certain that you have to go on a 4 hour plane ride to have a special facial procedure done. Perhaps the procedure you are anticipating is only specially named or branded and really not as special as it is being portrayed. To my knowledge, there are no facial procedures so special that they would warrant a 4-hour plane ride (except perhaps a facial transplant).
If you still feel that you need to go elsewhere you should separate the procedures. You will be at increased risk for blood clots with the dual procedure, with a tummy tuck alone and with a plane ride.
Traveling for surgery- is it worth it?
It is generally best to have your surgery locally if the patient feels the best surgeon is in their area.
If you seek exceptional experience or expertise in a particular procedure, it may be necessary to travel. There are surgeons in various fields who stand out as being particularly expert. Typically they have considerable experience with a particular procedure. Often they are at or affiliated with major academic centers and have published extensively in their field. These surgeons typically derive many or even most of their patients from other states and countries.
Many patients are willing to undergo the inconvenience, expense and possibly the risk (blood clots, complications once they get home) if they feel that expertise is warranted.
The issue of whether or not it is wise to travel for surgery if the cost is much lower in another city or country is less debatable. Most surgeons would advise against traveling to a venue for the lesser cost, especially if the safeguards and safety measures are not in place.
Ask yourself, why is there only one doctor who can do it?
I always worry when someone says that in the whole US there is only one doctor who can do a procedure. Perhaps some difficult ear or craineofacial reconstruction -- there may only be a few, but one? As far as a tummy tuck is concerned, it is best performed near where you live.
Surgery done in your hometown
I think that it is best, if possible, to have the surgery done in your hometown. Besides the risks involved with blood clots from traveling soon after surgery, there will likely be many questions that will pop up after your procedure, and it is always best if you can go see the surgeon themselves rather than trying to communicate by phone.
There are excellent surgeons all across the country
The surgeon that is four hours away will provide an excellent service for you but the real question is how will that surgeon handle a complication that will require his/her direct attention from four hours away by plane! It is advisable to seek a local surgeon that can provide the services you want and can deal with complications that may occur. The whole goal is improvement of your contour in the safest manner possible.
Stay close to your surgeon
If you are going to have surgery out of town, then plan to stay there for a couple of weeks. Your doctor won't be able to treat your complication and to answer your questions if you are hundreds of miles away.
About 5-10 times per year, I operate on patients from out of state. My only requirement is that they stick around for the first couple of weeks. While complications are unusual, they can be so easy to treat if the patient can just pop into my office. On the other hand, from a distance, they can be a real nuisance, especially since primary care doctors are not used to seeing post-operative cosmetic surgery patients.