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The Dangers of Medical Tourism
By: Dr. Gary Breslow, MD, FACS
bikini tummy
Jun 15, 2015

International travel for plastic surgeryAs we welcome the official start of summer on Sunday, Drs. Gary Breslow and Jordan Farkas would like to address an issue that often comes up around this time of year. Medical tourism is the practice of traveling to another country to undergo medical care (often plastic surgery), and it is especially popular in the summer, as people like to combine a tropical vacation with cosmetic enhancement. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that up to 750,000 Americans travel abroad for medical care annually.

If you have ever been tempted by the prospect of medical tourism, Drs. Breslow and Farkas encourage you to re-consider. Here’s why:

The Price of Safety

Part of the allure of medical tourism is that plastic surgery is often advertised as being cheaper in other countries. Typically, a foreign plastic surgeon must offer rock bottom pricing to lure patients out of their native countries and into unfamiliar territory.

However, plastic surgery is not an area where patients should cut corners in terms of cost. Patient health, safety and peace of mind are worth much more than the few hundred (or thousand) dollars they could save by visiting another country for surgery.

Also, if a patient were to develop a complication or need revision surgery after a botched operation, those additional costs would usually cancel out any savings.

Different Country, Different Standards

As mentioned, medical tourism may seem tempting because it combines a tropical vacation with cosmetic enhancement. Never mind that most patients spend the majority of their time recuperating from their operation in a hotel room and are unable to experience the country.

It is more important to remember that other countries have different medical systems and a different standard of care.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons wisely points out that there are no U.S. laws to protect patients that travel out of the country. Physicians that perform plastic surgery outside of the United States are not subject to laws mandating their training or qualifications. The facilities may be dirty and ill-sanitized, medications may be of poorer quality or counterfeit, and physicians may use poor judgement when handling needles and other surgical tools.

In a case of surgical negligence, a patient has no rights or recourse.

Possible Communication Barriers

Clear patient-doctor communication is critical throughout the entire plastic surgery experience. Undergoing treatment at a foreign facility where the patient does not fluently understand the language presents serious challenges. There is a good chance for misunderstandings.

Visit the Breslow Center for Plastic Surgery

If you are seeking world class plastic surgery care, look no further than the Breslow Center for Plastic Surgery. Dr. Breslow and Dr. Farkas are board certified plastic surgeons with many years of experience. To meet them and learn more about your plastic surgery options, please schedule a personal consultation. Call (201) 444-9522 to make an appointment today.

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