It is The Aesthetic Society’s view that there are excellent aesthetic surgeons throughout the world. However, seeking surgery abroad requires an even greater level of knowledge and homework.
If you are thinking about having surgery overseas, we strongly recommend establishing a relationship with a local board-certified aesthetic plastic surgeon before going on your trip. That way, if complications arise when you return home, a qualified surgeon will be familiar with your goals and procedures and will be able to provide post-op or revisional care if necessary.
Choose a surgeon based on credentials and trust, not costs. Unless you have met the surgeon on a prior visit and have seen the surgery facility, it can be difficult to know whether you will be comfortable with the surgeon and feel secure proceeding with surgery. You may look at reviews but those are not always reliable. Make sure you check all surgeon credentials in advance of your procedure and are confident in their abilities before you book anything. You can find International Aesthetic Society members by entering a country or city using our find a surgeon feature or by visiting www.isaps.org.
If the price or perceived savings are the primary drivers for getting surgery abroad and you don’t take the time to properly vet your surgeon, you may be putting your health at risk. It’s worth noting costs are not always lower abroad. Carefully consider the total costs involved with having surgery abroad, including the additional time off work required for travel and recovery, the price of air travel and hotel stays abroad, potential costs if surgery revisions are needed subsequently, and unanticipated expenses if complications occur. It is also ideal to have a trusted friend or family member travel with you during your surgery and care for you during your immediate recovery.
Below are some questions you can ask when interviewing a surgeon abroad:
- What training do you have? (Be sure that your surgeon has specific training in cosmetic/aesthetic surgery procedures through an accredited plastic surgery residency program and/or fellowship.)
- What specialty certification do you have?
- Are you board-certified in aesthetic plastic surgery, and by which organization?
- What credentials do your anesthesia and nursing care have? (Understand the local standards of anesthesia and nursing care.)
- Do the key personnel at your office and in the operating room speak fluent English?
- See also the general list of questions to ask your aesthetic plastic surgeon.
Traveling can impact your surgery results and recovery, so be sure to ask your surgeon the following questions before you get on a plane so you can adequately prepare (these questions also apply if you are traveling far within the US):
- What are the risks of long flights before and after surgery?
- Will travel have an impact on my surgical outcome?
- Will I have to stay longer at the tourist destination to decrease the risk of post-surgical deep vein thrombosis (DVT) before I get on a plane?
- What are your recommendations for aftercare? How long after your procedure will I need to stay in the area? Who will care for me during your initial recovery? What are the costs for this post-operative care?
- What happens if I develop complications?
- Is there an acute care hospital nearby if complications should arise? (If so, make sure it a fully licensed, modern facility)
- If I am not happy with my results (or feel the surgeon has been negligent), what recourse do I have? (Find out in advance what liability coverage the physician holds and what are the local laws regarding medical malpractice.)
- Who is financially responsible for secondary or revisional procedures?
Plastic surgery abroad can be a safe experience with excellent outcomes. However, we strongly recommend that you do your homework in advance and be fully comfortable with the answers to the above questions before making any commitment of either time or money.