Healthcare is one of the most controversial and complicated issues in modern America. How do we assure that our friends and loved ones get the attention they need without breaking the bank? It’s important to explore all of your options with your doctor and insurance provider, but some people don’t have the patience for this process or the cash.
That’s why they often resort to seeking cosmetic surgery abroad.
From Canada to the UK and Singapore to Israel, Americans are traveling internationally to undergo certain procedures in hopes of getting them performed for a lower cost than they would pay here at home. According to one study, a large number of these surgeries are cosmetic in nature.
But is it worth the globetrotting? Here are some important considerations to make before you hop a plane to engage in medical tourism…
Communication Is Key
The first important factor to consider seems obvious, but it can’t be overstated: do you speak the language of your desired destination? If so, how fluently do you converse? It is imperative to be able to communicate effortlessly and pointedly with your medical team to ensure the utmost transparency and openness. For example, if you are experiencing pain or discomfort, you must convey the specifics of your predicament to elicit the proper remedy.
Now revisit that initial line of questioning. Are you sure that you can accurately translate your health status into another language, no matter what that status may be… or how it could suddenly change?
You’ve done your homework. You know what procedure you want. But is your surgeon as prepared as you are? You want to fully vet his or her credentials before putting your trust in their care. It’s a simple process in the United States because you can search their accreditation with well-established organizations like the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, but it becomes much more complicated overseas.
Is there a comparable organization in your host country? If you don’t know the answer, then more research is inevitable.
With any surgical situation, there are inherent risks. Clotting, swelling, and general pain management are parts of the landscape you must maneuver when you’re recovering from a procedure. You should ask yourself a few important questions before you embark upon a medical journey through a foreign land.
- How long will I be visiting this country?
- How expensive is it to stay in the local hospital while I recuperate?
- Will I have access to the appropriate pain meds?
- What about other resources like antibiotics and sterile equipment?
- If an infection should occur, do I trust this medical team to deal with the consequences?
Many cosmetic procedures require a follow-up visit to ensure quality control as well as aesthetic satisfaction. If you are only preparing for a short trip, then your time (and budget) may not afford such recourse. In such an eventuality, you will need to schedule your follow-up appointment back in the states, in which case it defeats the purpose of getting the surgery performed overseas in the first place. You’ll pay the same amount and require more time to catch your surgeon up to speed with what was done abroad.
You should always hope for the best and prepare for the worst, so it’s worth asking: what if something goes wrong during surgery? Are you protected by any local laws, such as the malpractice ordinances that are in place in America? If not, you could be saddled not only with exorbitant medical bills but also astronomical legal fees, all to compensate for what you thought would be a bargain of a cosmetic procedure. Which brings us to the bottom line…
You Get What You Pay For
The allure of inexpensive medical care is understandable. After all, a lap band procedure may cost less than half as much in Mexico as it does in the United States. But if any of the aforementioned complications arise (clotting, legal issues, additional medical needs), then that price tag balloons to much more than the procedure would have cost in the first place if you had stayed north of the border.
What About the Remainder of Your Vacation?
Did you book this trip just for the cosmetic surgery appointment? Or were you also planning to go exploring while abroad? If so, will you be able to travel, cavort, swim, and generally live it up in your post-surgical state? Be sure to ask your doctors (both at home and overseas) what your limitations will be, and factor those risks into your vacation plans.
Booking the Return Flight
Not only will your international itinerary be hindered by your post-operative healthcare needs; you also might not be able to fly back home right away. Many facial procedures require that the patient not endure rapid changes in altitude. Airline travel can put undue pressure on your capillaries and passageways, so your jet-setting lifestyle must take a back seat to the recuperation process.
If you still have questions about the dangers and difficulties of so-called “medical tourism”, then please don’t hesitate to contact our office. We’ll take the time to consult with you about the costs and benefits of your desired procedure – no passport required!