The truth is, plastic surgery can be pricey. The total bills will vary depending on what you want done and where you go to have the surgery. Thus the enticing offer that medical tourism provides: an exotic locale, a typically largely reduced cost for a procedures. and then to top it off, a relaxing recovery vacation under palm trees and gentle winds. The “vacation” still attracts significant numbers of American women and men every year, but is it too good to be true?. What’s the secret behind medical tourism?
Is Surgery the Time to go Bargain Hunting?
Plain and simple, medical tourism continues to thrive because enough citizens of the world – Americans included – want to avoid the high cost of plastic surgery procedures here in the states. A lot of folks are using the internet to see what other areas of the world provide medical care – including plastic surgery – for a lower price. For example, a breast augmentation procedure that might cost $6,000 in the U.S. can be done for about $2,200 in India. Sadly, in many cases, the cheaper price could end up costing you more in the long run.
“Usually people who are going abroad are typically not going to see the world’s expert on a particular procedure,” says Mark Elliot, MD, a board certified plastic surgeon in Meridian, Miss. “They’re going abroad to to find out if they can have a particular procedure done cheaper.”
Don’t Assume Anything! Do your Research and really get to know your doctor
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), “Before surgery, patients should research the potential plastic surgery risks and side effects for their particular procedure. Your surgeon should discuss what you can expect during recovery, and what you can do to minimize risk.” If you are going to travel out of the United States, your homework is harder as it may be difficult to get much of the necessary information. Should a complication arise (which is always possible), you might end-up saving more money by having stayed at home and seeing a trusted, board certified plastic surgeon.
While destination procedures certainly can have talented physicians, a multitude of other factors could be in play that could send that cost higher than if the procedure had been done in the US. Board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Dan Del Vecchio of Boston says think down the road. “Some of these vacation packages the surgery is $3,000. But it’s a hook. It gets you in,” he told The Plastic Surgery Channel. “Then you factor in the flight, you factor in you have to stay there for two weeks at a recovery house which could be a house with a maid but it’s not necessarily a hospital by any stretch of the imagination.”
“It’s not a vacation when you’re recovering from plastic surgery.” – Dan Del Vecchio, MD
“You add it all up, you might as well stay in the United States and get your surgery done by a board certified plastic surgeon,” Dr. Del Vecchio continues. “If you have a complication, you can go right back. It’s not a vacation when you’re recovering from plastic surgery. It’s a big misconception. So I would say ‘no,’ stay in the states and get it done right.”
Indianapolis-based board certified plastic surgeon Bruce Van Natta, MD agrees, saying patients should think about the potential risks and follow-up care that come with medical tourism. Plastic surgery is still surgery!
Post-Operative Care is A Critical Component to Success
Board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Lou Bucky of Philadelphia described three key aspects to surgey:
- Accurate and dense pre-operative analysis
- Carefully done operation
- Carefully performed post-operative care
The stress on the final aspect is critical when it comes to medical tourism. Even if the first two aspects are met, the lowered price may be low because you’re on your own post-op. Where a surgeon who commands a higher price may have his or her own surgical center and team of nurses and patient cooridnators to achieve great post-op care, a doctor elsewhere at a medical tourism farm may not.
Whether it’s directly after the surgery, or even at home when something may not seem right and you need to talk to someone about it, having great post-op care is both physically and mentally advantageous to great recoveries and results. Such post-op care is not always provided during medical tourism, and may not be factored into the cost (making it overall seem cheaper).
“The process of surgery really encompasses a good analysis preoperatively, a carefully done operation and a very carefully performed post-operative care,” says Dr. Bucky. “To give up that last third assuming there will never be any questions, problems or complications afterward, quite frankly I think it is naïve and unsafe.”