It sounds wonderful. Travel to an exotic Asian location. Have cosmetic surgery at a dirt cheap price then enjoy the rest of your holiday doing the tourist thing while you recover. It all sounds too good to be true and like most things that sounds like that, it probably is.
Unfortunately the reality of having cosmetic surgery overseas is somewhat different. Here are a few things you might want to consider before you book your overseas appointment.
- When it comes to surgery, much of the success in an elective procedure such as cosmetic surgery is based around good communication between the surgeon and patient. This can be difficult at the best of times but particularly so when the surgeon is working in a second language which he may have a poor grasp of.
- The standards of health care expected in Australia are not necessarily universal. It would take careful investigation into a country’s health care standards to really understand the different ways that medicine is practised in that part of the world and the problems that this may present for someone used to the Australian system.
- Breast Augmentation is particularly an operation targeted by the cosmetic tourism companies. Given that a significant part of the cost of this operation is the price of the implants themselves, one has to wonder whether the quality of the implants is being compromised to meet this reduced fee. The problems of using inferior material’s in implant construction have been well demonstrated by the recent PIP implant fiasco. Representatives of the major implants company’s in Australia can recount incidences of seeing implants with their company trade mark which were not made by them. These are simply copied in some sweat shop somewhere and one cannot guarantee the same stability and safety of the device as with the registered implants here in Australia.
- An underestimated and important part of the cosmetic procedure is the long-term follow up. It certainly suits the overseas Doctor to have his patient disappear within a few days. It saves him the extra effort and time it takes to monitor the healing process and to assess his long-term result. Ignorance can be bliss in these circumstances. However for the patient things aren’t so good. Detection of a developing problem at an early stage is not likely to occur from the other side of the world and it may be a full blown problem that leaves her to present to a local surgeon who has no information on the technique or prosthesis used. She is thus at a significant dis-advantage when seeking further treatment.
- It is difficult enough in Australia to understand the qualifications of the Doctor performing the procedure. In the USA there have been several incidences of arrest for non-Doctor’s performing cosmetic surgery. Whether this occurs in an Asian country it would be difficult to assess given the difficulties with the language and understanding, what qualifications mean. Many patients operated on locally and in Australia by non-Plastic Surgeons are genuinely surprised to learn of their previous Doctors’ limited qualifications. Often they feel they had thoroughly investigated the circumstances beforehand but these things can be difficult to interpret without some expertise. One could magnify this difficulty enormously when operating in a foreign language and in a foreign country.
- The standard of healthcare in Australia is particularly high by world standards. Surgeons come from many other parts of the world to train here and to absorb the expertise that has evolved here. Australian citizens are in the happy circumstance of being able to take advantage of this expertise. It would seem strange therefore that they seek surgery in a foreign country for an elective procedure where an educated person such as a doctor from Australia would prefer to have a fracture simply splinted there and then fly back here for expert treatment.