Some people are returning from a foreign vacation with more than a tan and an album full of memories – they’re looking overseas for discounted cosmetic surgeries and procedures. But is traveling to another country for this kind of treatment safe?
ER Physician Dr. Travis Stork reports that cosmetic surgery tour groups and medi-vacations are widely advertised on social media sites like Facebook. Thailand, Mexico, and Singapore are the hottest destinations, attracting millions of Americans every year. But the Mexican professional organization representing cosmetic and plastic surgeons warns that there are thousands of fake surgeons in the country – there are even fake medical schools that claim to train doctors.
“This is a little frightening!” comments Dr. Stork. Plastic Surgeon Dr. Andrew Ordon says he sees patients every week who’ve had procedures abroad that didn’t work out as intended. “There are some great plastic surgeons in Mexico that are well-trained, know what they’re doing, and have great facilities,” he adds. “But I think anywhere in the world, the monitoring is less than we have here.
Urologist Dr. Jennifer Berman adds that in many of these trips, the patients don’t even meet the doctor ahead of time. “I can’t imagine lying there, wondering who’s going to show up!” she says.
Dr. Stork notes that medical tourism isn’t limited to plastic surgery – people travel to get all kinds of treatments they might not be able to afford at home. “Do your due diligence, the same as having something done in the United States,” recommends Dr. Ordon. Ask about the doctor’s credentials and find out whether the surgery will be performed at an accredited hospital.
Finally, Dr. Stork isn’t comfortable with calling a trip to get surgery “a medical cosmetic vacation.” Surgery involves serious before and after-care, you won’t be relaxing on the beach with a pina colada. “Getting a procedure is not a vacation,” he says.