What makes plastic surgery tourism dangerous?

Many potential patients (and tourists) ask, why is plastic surgery tourism so bad? We’ve written a lot about this particular practice over the years, and never in especially charitable light. That’s because plastic surgery tourism can be risky, especially depending on your procedure of choice. But let’s look at some specific reasons why plastic surgery tourism should make you pause--and at least think about whether the savings are worth it.

If it’s a great discount, why is plastic surgery tourism so bad? After all, who doesn’t love a great deal? Almost all of the savings come from the currency conversion rate anyway, right? So there’s no harm in getting in a little travel followed by a little plastic surgery. That’s the way the thinking usually goes.

Why is Plastic Surgery Tourism So Bad?

And it’s wrong. Generally speaking, plastic surgery tourism is a bad idea. We’ve been pretty consistent in that particular message over the years. But the underlying question remains: why is plastic surgery tourism so bad? Why is getting your plastic surgery done in Brazil any different from getting your plastic surgery performed in the United States?

And does the “plastic surgery tourism is bad” rule apply even within the U.S.? If I live in Iowa and want to get a nose job in Minneapolis, should I travel? Or should I stick with where I am and try to find a local surgeon?

These are all good questions, and not every instance is always going to be cut and dry.

The Exceptions Don’t Invalidate the Rule

Every rule is going to have exceptions. It’s completely possible to engage in plastic surgery tourism and love your results when you get back home. There are plenty of highly qualified plastic surgeons the world over doing exceptional work. However, what we mean when we say that plastic surgery tourism is “bad” is that plastic surgery tourism is risky.

That risk is higher, generally speaking, than it is in the United States. Especially if you’re shopping for a discount. And we don’t like to see people take unnecessary risks. Now, sometimes when you take a risk, things are going to work out just fine. You’ll be happy with the result.

But, to us–and to be clear, we aren’t offering medical advice–that risk seems unwarranted. And there are a few reasons why plastic surgery abroad is riskier than plastic surgery in the United States:

  • Getting credentials in the United States is quite challenging, ensuring that surgeons are highly trained and experienced
  • Medical devices are strictly regulated in the U.S. That includes devices such as breast implants
  • Easy access to your surgeon during recovery is often quite vital; when your surgeon is in another country, that can complicate matters

There are additional reasons why plastic surgery in the United States tends to be safer than it is abroad. But what it boils down to is this: the U.S. has quite strict safety standards for aesthetic plastic surgeons. Those standards aren’t always universal abroad.

What About Traveling Between States?

In general, there’s much less risk involved in traveling between states for your plastic surgery than there is in traveling between countries. That’s because there are nationwide safety guidelines that surgeons and device manufacturers have to follow. Those guidelines are designed to minimize risk, which is good.

So flying to California to get your facelift will be a different experience than flying to Croatia for the same experience. (I’m not trying to say anything about Croatia, by the way, just making a generalization.)

But you will run into the same problem that anyone engaging in plastic surgery tourism is going to come across: the recovery period. When you’re doing your recovery–even months down the road, after all the swelling and discomfort has subsided–you want to ensure you have easy access to your surgeon.

And during the first few days after surgery–depending on the procedure–you’re going to want easy access to someplace comfortable and familiar. In other words, you’ll want access to home. That’s something that’s difficult to get abroad.

Are There Advantages to Plastic Surgery Tourism?

Of course, there are advantages to plastic surgery tourism. That’s why people do it. Our overall point, I suppose, is something like this: In most cases, those new advantages will not outweigh the inherent risks involved. When you travel, the risks go up–and in most cases, any advantage offered by plastic surgery tourism won’t compensate for those risks.

And that’s also why we advise against chasing deals and discounts, especially if they’re abroad. When it comes to plastic surgery, in many cases, you get what you pay for. Much of the cost of each procedure goes towards your safety and security in some way or another. Sometimes, it’s not a bad idea to make sure those responsible for your results and your safety are well paid. Why is plastic surgery tourism so bad? It increases the risk of an unwanted outcome–it’s as simple as that.

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