Why are so many Americans willing to leave the U.S. to travel to other countries for plastic surgery, cosmetic dentistry or any type of medical care? Many say, why not? Procedures are usually half the price and you get a nice vacation to boot!
South America, Cuba, and Thailand— these are just a few of the countries using medical tourism to boost their lagging economy. According to PatientsBeyondBorders.com, a popular consumer website about medical tourism, the industry brings in an estimated 40 billion a year.
Buyer Beware – “It can be a bigger problem than most people realize”
We talked to board certified plastic surgeons here in the U.S. to find out their thoughts…
“Part of the problem of getting surgery in another country is they’re using different devices, different injectables and even different techniques,” says Dr. Jackie Yee, a plastic surgeon who practices in Miami, Florida. She says she has witnessed first-hand the effects of medical tourism. “I’ve seen people that will get an infection and by the time they make it back to the states, they’ve got the difficulty of trying to find a doctor that’s willing to treat them. It can be a bigger problem than most patients realize.”
Dr. Grant Stevens, who practices in Los Angeles, says this is not a hypothetical situation. “I’ve seen some of these problems before. They can range from simple things like a hematoma, to more serious matters such as a blood clot when they’re flying back, and a blood clot can result in death or stroke.”
What about the advantages of discounted prices and the lure of recovering in a tropical paradise? Plastic surgeon, Dr. John Gross, from Pasadena, California says, “I don’t think the trade-off is worth it. There are very few procedures that you’re really recovered from in the time span of a vacation. You can find qualified, board certified plastic surgeons here in the U.S. for a range of prices.”
Plastic Surgery Comparison Shopping
|Comparative Cost for Breast Augmentation and Tummy Tucks|
|Country||Tummy Tuck||Breast Augmentation|
(According to PatientsBeyondBorders.com)
The average price of medical procedures in many countries is as low as 45-90 percent less. However, you need to factor in the cost of airfare, meals, hotel, transportation and possibly insurance. Now the price tag is nearly even!
“I personally think it’s ill-advised; I think your body and life is much more important,” says Gross. “We have the best providers in the U.S., the price is very competitive and a patient has recourse if something were to go wrong,” says Stevens. “If a patient leaves the county for surgery and there’s a complication, they can have adverse outcomes.”