3 Big Reasons to Say ‘No’ to Small Cosmetic Surgery Costs
by Health Blogger Erika Fitzgerald
As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. Plastic surgery continues to gain popularity, and more people are seeking low-cost deals. The result: a multi-billion dollar industry known as “medical tourism” — traveling to another country for medical care. Valued at $10.5 billion in 2012 and expected to hit a worth of as much as $32.5 billion by 2019, according to an EE Times story, the global medical tourism market shows no sign of slowing down. But consumers need to be aware of the risks associated with traveling abroad to save a few dollars on their cosmetic procedures.
Royal College-certified Toronto Plastic Surgeon Dr. Michael Weinberg warns his patients of the dangers of plastic surgery tourism. On his blog he states: “Not a week goes by that I — and other plastic surgeons in Toronto — do not see some unfortunate person who tried to save a little money by travelling to an exotic locale to have a plastic surgery procedure … repeatedly, patients see me for serious complications arising from a procedure done out of country. These are the kinds of complications that simply should not happen if surgery is performed properly and if appropriate postoperative care is administered.”
Patients should always keep in mind that, although elective, plastic surgery is still real surgery with real risks. There are 3 big factors patients should consider when thinking about having plastic surgery abroad:
- Surgeon & Facility Qualifications
It’s extremely difficult to comprehensively research the training and qualifications of a surgeon abroad. Although there are certainly some skilled surgeons operating around the world, it’s difficult to know from a distance what standards of surgical care are being used. Certification and facility standards vary from one country to the next.
Moreover, the equipment and products used abroad may be different from those used in Canada. Patients should be extremely careful about what they allow to be implanted in their bodies. Products used in Canada are evaluated and approved by Health Canada, and Canadian surgeons are familiar with products and equipment in case of any complications or revisions needed down the road. Medication in other countries may also be dangerous, as it is not held to the same standards as in Canada.
- Emergency & Post-Surgical Care
On that note, Canadian surgeons may not be familiar with products and equipment used in other countries. This can be problematic for patients who suffer complications upon returning home. Revision surgery can be notably more difficult, and results may not be as desirable as they would have been if the surgery was done correctly the first time.
Moreover, postoperative care can be limited abroad. Should complications arise during surgery, quality emergency care may not be available. Hospitalization abroad can also be costly in cases where a patient’s normal insurance does not work.
Lastly, patients should consider the compatibility of surgery and travel. Combining plastic surgery with a trip to an exotic locale might sound like a good idea, but keep in mind rest is required for proper healing. Many activities should be avoided after surgery, and long flights home can increase the risk of complications such as blood clotting and swelling.
- Overall Cost vs. Risk
The bottom line is that plastic surgery tourism can be far more expensive in the long run. Although the upfront cost may appear cheaper, the risk of complications is simply too high. Complications will be far more costly for patients’ wallets and well-being. In Canada, patients can take advantage of services such as Medicard and Credit Medical to make surgeries more affordable through financing and still make their personal safety a priority.