Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Medical Tourism (Cheap cosmetic surgery?)

Many patients are tempted to travel to distant places to obtain cosmetic surgery at a discounted price. The lure of less costly surgery will often cloud good judgement.  I have spoken with patients who were aware of a center’s poor health record and stated that they were willing to take a chance as long as they were able to have the potential results they desired. A study published this month in the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Journal from Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx reported on 42 patients having surgery outside the country over a 3 year period.  Almost half of the patients had severe complications. Many of the patients were poor candidates for surgery. Most of the patients had friends or family members that had successful cosmetic surgery overseas. The average cost of treating the complications was $18,000 a person.

There have been recent deaths in south Florida at discounted cosmetic surgery centers.  These centers change locations and the name of the center to try to stay ahead of the authorities. Discounted cosmetic surgery usually means cutting corners on safety. Patients develop complications and are brought to the emergency room for treatment of these problems. Many times the operating surgeon does not have hospital privileges to care for their patients.  If your doctor does not have privileges at a local hospital in may be a red flag.

Patients need to have follow-up care after surgery to obtain the best results. If you travel a large distance for surgery you have to factor in the travel time and costs to return to your surgeon for follow-up care. If you have a complication you often will need to take time off of work to travel to be treated.  These hidden costs need to be factored in when considering travel for surgery.

What can you do in order to protect yourself from making a costly mistake?  Do your homework! A recommendation from the internet is not how I would select my surgeon.  Speak to your family doctor and ask them who they would choose. Speak to the nurses in the operating room and the emergency room and ask their recommendations.  Check with the Board of Medicine to see if  your doctor is board certified and if they have had sanctions against them.