Dangers of cosmetic surgery tourism under spotlight again

cosmetic surgery abroadFollowing on from the death of Leah Cambridge at a Turkish cosmetic surgery clinic in August, comes the news that another British woman died earlier this year when she too underwent a Brazilian butt lift abroad.

The rise in popularity of this procedure beloved by UK reality stars and deemed by experts as the riskiest cosmetic surgery procedure due to the chance of fat being injected into the large veins in the buttocks which could then travel to the heart or brain, has meant these stories have been much covered in the press. However, risk isn’t just limited to the Brazilian bum lift and it’s a good time to reflect on the dangers of undergoing cosmetic surgery abroad.

Cosmetic surgery abroad: a costly issue

Cost is the overriding reason why patients choose to undergo cosmetic surgery abroad and it’s true that the prices quoted can seem much cheaper than having the same procedure with a UK-based plastic surgeon, but it’s important to understand what you’re paying for.

No surgery is without risk but incorporated in your plastic surgeon’s fees is long-term aftercare and the knowledge you have your surgeon on hand in case there are complications. Many cosmetic surgery clinics will not provide any aftercare and if you’re not happy with the results, will charge for any follow-up procedures.

Part of a plastic surgeon’s fees will cover your procedure being carried out at a private hospital. Our hospitals and clinics are closely regulated by the Care Quality Commission which insists on a high standard of patient care.

A UK plastic surgeon will also be paying very high insurance premiums to provide a safeguard for their patients, but surgeons abroad are not necessarily covered in the same way, as many patients find out to their distress. And don’t think you’ll be covered by your travel insurance, as it’s rare that a standard policy will cover you in event something goes wrong during elective surgery.

Cosmetic surgery abroad: flying high

Travelling by air to and from your cosmetic surgery procedure will also increase the chance of something going wrong. Air travel leaves you vulnerable to developing deep vein thrombosis. DVT is when a blood clot forms in a vein, either partially or completely blocking blood flow. Another potential complication is a pulmonary embolism when the blood vessel that supplies the lungs becomes blocked by a clot.

Cosmetic surgery abroad: surgeon choice

Another problem typically inherent with medical tourism is that it is unlikely you will meet your operating surgeon prior to the day of the procedure. The consultation period is incredibly important as it gives you the chance to discuss your expectations and any concerns you may have while you establish whether your plastic surgeon is someone you’re comfortable with operating on you. It also allows your plastic surgeon to determine whether you have realistic expectations and they can advise you on all your options, including not undergoing surgery at this stage.

These sad stories currently being reported on in the media only serve to underline the survey carried out last year by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), the independent plastic surgery organisation that Mr Alan Park is a member of. BAAPS represents the majority of consultant plastic surgeons that operate privately in the UK and the survey found that four out of five surgeons had recorded a marked rise in patients seeking revision surgery to address previously botched operations – 30% of which were patients that had sought a cheap deal overseas.

The cost of these cheap deals in terms of unhappiness with results or discomfort or worse post-surgery is never mentioned in the fine print.