Medical tourism is a booming industry worth more than US$60 billion a year and growing dramatically each year. Many developing countries including Thailand, India and the Philippines are now even promoting themselves as go-to destinations for cheap cosmetic surgery.
It’s a global phenomenon, but particularly popular with Australians – who mostly travel to Singapore and Thailand to undergo breast augmentations and tummy tucks. And while the combination of sun, beaches and a cheaper price tag might sound appealing, there are many risks involved with travelling overseas to undergo a cosmetic surgery procedure.
Before you make any decision, the most important thing is to do your homework first! At the top of your checklist should be finding out exactly who your surgeon is. The credentials and training received by doctors and surgeons in Australia is generally of a much higher standard than in many other countries, particularly developing countries.
The standard of medical care, hospital hygiene and aftercare are also not always up to scratch. Medical tourists from Australia and the UK have been known to come home carrying infectious diseases and even superbugs, because hospital staff are not properly trained to limit the spread of infection. The price tag of an overseas procedure might be appealing, but it’s certainly not worth risking a botched job or a debilitating, sometimes life-threatening infection (which is the most common complication arising from overseas surgery).
Recent research by the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS) found that overseas cosmetic surgery lacks consistent regulation and documentation. As a result, the complication rate for people having cosmetic surgery abroad is a staggering 16.5%, with 8.7% of those surveyed requiring further treatment back home. In addition, avenues for legal compensation can be very hard to access in cases where surgery goes wrong.
Any kind of surgery carries risk and the best way of mitigating that risk is to choose the most skilled surgeon you can, and to select a clinic or hospital that operates at the highest standards of medical care. In the event of an emergency, you want to know you will be receiving world-class treatment.
While you might think you’re saving money by going overseas for a procedure, the results are almost always guaranteed to be poorer and the risks so much higher that I strongly urge you to reconsider. Why would you risk your most treasured possession – your health and your life – when you have the most highly skilled and professional surgeons and hospitals in the world right on your doorstep?