Cosmetic surgery offers people an exciting opportunity to enhance their appearance and boost their self-confidence. The improved safety and effectiveness of modern cosmetic medicine has prompted more and more people to seek out a broad range of procedures in the last few decades, boosting the popularity of cosmetic surgery and making it much more common in the United States.
Since the year 2000 alone, cosmetic surgery procedures among Americans have increased by 200 percent. The most recent data shows that the top procedures in the United States all increased in overall numbers from the previous year.
Better results and fewer side effects are goals that all trained cosmetic surgeons strive for, but a trend called cosmetic surgery tourism, or medical tourism, has led to concern within the medical community. Patients have begun to travel abroad to seek out cheaper cosmetic procedures than they can find at home in the U.S. Unfortunately, those procedures can end up costing patients much more than they bargained for.
Dangers of Overseas Surgery
When patients travel abroad for cheaper surgeries, they typically don’t go to countries with established medical regulations, as these destinations can be just as expensive as the United States. Rather than going to countries like Great Britain, Canada, or Norway, where the medical communities follow similar educational requirements and safety procedures, medical tourism takes people to places with fewer laws and restrictions. The countries that lack oversight for their doctors may offer less expensive procedures, but each surgery comes with additional risks.
After surgery abroad, patients often head home quickly to heal, so they may not have access to the team that initially performed their surgery. Medical records from the procedure sometimes do not exist or may not be completed as necessary. When this occurs, medical professionals in the United States who end up taking over the patient’s care to address a side effect or complication have no way of knowing which medications or procedures were used in the surgeries.
Many facilities abroad also lack proper infection control, oversight of medication, or certification of medical staff. Another concern is the risk of exposure to bacteria or viruses in a foreign country that the patient’s body has no resistance to.
The risk of contracting a unique, antibiotic-resistant bacteria increases when people visit medical facilities that lack proper infection control procedures. Doctors in the United States may struggle to identify the cause of a mysterious infection when they do not have access to the facilities where the patient’s surgery took place.
Costs of Surgery Abroad
The idea of getting a $10,000 procedure for $1,500 may seem appealing, but patients should consider the other expenses involved that inevitably raise the overall cost of a procedure abroad. The patient must include the cost of airfare, hotel accommodations, and other travel-related expenses in their calculations.
Related expenses not included in the cost of the surgery can include medication and additional medical care after the procedure, as well as transportation to and from the hospital. These added expenses could mean that the surgery now costs the patient $4,000 or more, rather than the original $1,500 they expected.
The savings from a procedure abroad may still seem substantial, but if infection or health problems occur once patients arrive home, care costs can easily rise above $10,000. Surgery abroad may also produce poor results that are expensive and difficult, if not impossible, to fix with revision surgery.
How Much Does Surgery Cost in the United States?
Another problem with low-cost foreign surgery is that people often overestimate the amount they will need to pay for care in the United States. As procedures become more efficient, the cost of many elective treatments and surgeries has dropped over the years.
Every patient should meet with a plastic surgeon to discuss their procedure of choice, any lower-cost alternatives, and the final cost before making decisions about their treatment. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery even offers an annually updated chart of the average costs of a variety of procedures. The amount varies at each clinic, but the chart can help patients understand roughly what they can expect to pay.
Medical insurance plans may even cover some or all of the expenses involved with cosmetic procedures that qualify as a medical need. Patients failing to discuss these options with their primary physician or doctor in the United States may pay cash unnecessarily for unsafe treatments overseas. Some types of rhinoplasty, skin removal surgery, and even upper eyelid surgery may qualify as a necessary medical treatment.
Safety Through Medical Oversight
The medical industry in the United States is one of the best in the world due to strict government oversight. Medical professionals must meet stringent standards to maintain their licenses and must perform surgery in accredited facilities.
Pharmaceutical companies research and seek approval for medication before releasing them to the public. All medications produced for the U.S. market have clear labels and careful handling for added public safety. Medical facilities undergo regular inspections for cleanliness and infection control. Even medical tools undergo inspections and oversight. This helps to ensure patient safety, which in turn helps to justify a higher price tag.
Results Improve with Research
Patients looking for safety and optimal results from procedures like body contouring will need to do some research before moving forward with cosmetic surgery. Surgeons should be board-certified in plastic surgery and experienced in the procedures they perform.
The Internet makes it easy for prospective patients to research customer reviews. Concerned patients can even verify the authenticity of a doctor’s certifications through the American Board of Medical Specialties, an oversight group with an online searchable database.
The potential risks of medical tourism should be enough to discourage people from seeking medical services abroad. What should actively encourage everyone to stay in the United States for care, however, is the level of talent offered by American cosmetic specialists.
Doctors like the specialists at the Naderi Center have years of training and proven talent that allow patients to get the results they want with fewer risks. The Naderi Center offers an extensive list of cosmetic services and serves patients from across the United States and abroad. Contact the Naderi Center online for more information, or call 301-222-2020 for the facility in Chevy Chase, MD or 703-481-0002 for the Reston, VA location.