Considering having cosmetic surgery overseas? The options are endless for combining surgery with a holiday at a variety of popular South East Asian destinations, but also in locations further afield. Commonly known as ‘medical tourism’, it may look appealing – the price for surgery seems low and the destination exotic.
It sounds too good to be true. And that’s usually the case.
Surgery Isn’t a Holiday
The plastic surgeons at Assure Cosmetic Centre, as well as the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons, strongly recommend you separate your holiday from your surgery.
Having surgery is a big decision which should not be taken lightly. It involves a lot of research and at least two face-to-face consultations with your surgeon prior to surgery, plus time for in-depth thought about whether to proceed.
The process cannot be short-circuited over the internet, with photography and email as a substitute for personal appointments with a qualified plastic surgeon.
Our plastic surgeons will see you at least twice before you decide to go ahead, and we have a precise after-care routine for all our patients.
Before committing to surgery overseas, make sure you are fully informed. There are many pitfalls which are not well known:
- You won’t really know how good your overseas surgeon is going to be – being trained in Australia, the UK or the USA is not a guarantee of expertise.
- You won’t know if the hospital you’ll be booked into can handle a clinical emergency, should one occur during your surgery.
- The post-operative period is crucial to your recovery, yet you generally won’t receive the appropriate level of after-care with your overseas surgeon.
- You will have very little recourse with your medical tourism organiser or overseas surgeon should something go wrong.
- A survey by the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons reports a staggering 38% rise in the number of Australian patients requiring corrective treatment due to complications from overseas plastic surgery. Read ‘Botched Cosmetic Tourism Cases on the Rise’.
- Some of the worst complications our plastic surgeons have seen from cosmetic breast surgery have occurred in patients who have travelled overseas. There is no regulation of the industry in places like Asia, so consequentially, the risk of post-operative problems is much higher. Such complications are not only physically and emotionally distressing, they can cause long-term trauma.
- If you travel overseas for breast augmentation and return to Australia with an infection, the public hospitals will remove your implants and work to clear up the infection. If you want your implants replaced, this won’t be done in the public sector – you will have to go to a private plastic surgeon and it is possible that correcting bad surgery might cost you more than if you’d had your surgery in Australia in the first place.
- Find out more about the risks involved on the ASPS website.
- View the ASPS checklist if you are considering heading overseas for surgery.
Talk to us First
The decision to have cosmetic surgery is a major one and your choice of surgeon is of absolute importance. So before jumping on a plane, book a free consultation with our cosmetic breast nurse or a consultation with a specialist plastic surgeon to discuss your options. Our consultations are without obligation and give you the opportunity to discuss your expectations while seeking all the information you need to help with such an important decision.
At Assure, we offer a special package for breast augmentation patients, for one all-inclusive price of $8,990 – covering surgery performed safely in a premium, fully-accredited hospital in Perth. You can read more about our Fabulous Breasts package here.
Frequently Asked Questions
While the cost may appear to be less initially, you may be surprised to learn of the actual difference.
It is important to get an estimate of costs locally first. Then, you must compare the total cost, including the surgeon’s fee, anaesthetist’s fee and hospital fees. Sometimes there will be other costs, such as synthetic implants. You should also factor in costs of having a partner or family member to look after you in the post-operative period. More than likely you will need assistance after surgery, so make sure you include the cost of flights, accommodation, meals, transport and so on for both you and your carer, if planning to go overseas.
Unfortunately, in Asia, the term ‘plastic surgeon’ may be used by someone who is not in fact a plastic surgeon. In Australia, a plastic surgeon will have ‘FRACS’ (Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons) as the qualifications after their name and it is easy to check whether your surgeon gained their FRACS in plastic surgery (and not another surgical subspecialty). Members of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons are all fully-qualified plastic surgeons.
We do not recommend people travel by plane for at least 2 weeks (ideally 6 weeks) after surgery. Medical tourism companies on the other hand, will recommend a 1-week stay in the country where the surgery is performed. If more accommodation is required, that will add to your costs of the procedure.
Always. And this may not be the case if an overseas company is managing your care. You may be given the contact details of an assistant, who may not be familiar with what was done. In Australia and at Assure Cosmetic Centre, all plastic surgeons are directly responsible for their patients in the after-care period and are always contactable.
Unfortunately, there is no regulation of the overseas medical industry, so if you wish to make a complaint, it is unlikely there will be any organisation to support you. In Australia however, there are many regulatory bodies, including the Medical Board of Australia and the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. All have strict codes of conduct, and whenever necessary, can handle complaints about surgery performed in Australia.
No. All surgery requires a recovery period. This is a poor time to holiday. It is a time best spent at home with close family helping in your recovery.