Summary: Plastic surgery tourism has been a thing for as long as plastic surgery has been a thing. People love a bargain, and they’ll often go out of their way to secure that bargain. But plastic surgery tourism brings with it certain costs and risks that are difficult to mitigate. That doesn’t stop it from being tempting, especially in areas where the dollar has increased buying power. That’s the case now in Brazil, where thanks to the crashing Real, plastic surgery is looking more affordable than ever. The problem is the risk involved. Plastic surgery tourism risks are very real things.

plastic surgery tourism risks

A Bargain or Not? Plastic Surgery Tourism Risks

Brazil is one of those countries that is known for plastic surgery. In fact, we’ve written before about how it has one of the highest plastic surgery per capita rates in the world (along with Venezuela). But lately, Brazil’s economy hasn’t been doing so well and it’s currency is quickly losing value. While this isn’t necessarily a good thing for those living in Brazil, it’s turning out to be a good thing for anyone visiting. As the value of the Brazilian Real collapses, the power of the American Dollar (or any other more stable currency, such as the Euro) increases, meaning the dollar can buy more.

This makes Brazil an incredibly tempting destination for plastic surgery tourism. In fact, article after article and news story after news story are talking about how many people are flying to Brazil for a tummy tuck or a breast augmentation. The reasoning seems sound: Brazil performs a lot of plastic surgery, and now it’s less expensive than ever. So if the cost of a plane ticket and plastic surgery in Brazil is less expensive than the total cost of plastic surgery in the United States, why not get in a vacation and get plastic surgery at the same time?

The Downfalls of Plastic Surgery Tourism

Unfortunately, plastic surgery tourism is almost never a good idea. The United States maintains the highest standards of care for elective surgeries such as tummy tucks, breast augmentations, or any kind of plastic surgery. Board certified plastic surgeons, in the United States, receive some of the best training in the world and have to prove their abilities before they can receive their certifications. The governing bodies of these boards in areas such as Brazil or Venezuela tend to be a little less reliable (or, at least, a little easier to fool). This doesn’t mean that patients in Brazil necessarily get sub-par care, it simply means that such quality care is harder to guarantee.

That means, for someone traveling to Brazil from outside the country, you’re placing yourself at greater risk. As a general rule, plastic surgeons in the U.S. do not recommend plastic surgery tourism, no matter how great the discount might seem. Other than the qualifications and credentials of surgeons abroad, which are more difficult to guarantee, there are a couple of reasons why it might be best to avoid plastic surgery tourism. And those reasons will be true no matter where you go.

Plastic Surgery Tourism and Recovery

The first of those reasons has to do with your recovery. In most cases, plastic surgery requires at least a short recovery period during which you will need to refrain from most normal activities. You certainly won’t be able to undergo the stress of flying. This means that you’re going to have to secure a location for your recovery. Sometimes that’s a hospital and sometimes that’s a hotel, depending on your procedure. But you’ll want to surround yourself with people that you trust and that you can count on (in other words, friends and family). This can be an expensive prospect on its own, and it can diminish the value of plastic surgery tourism.

Plastic Surgery Tourism and Complications

The second reason has to do with what happens when you get back. Any surgery—no matter where it’s performed—carries with it the risk of complications. Now, if you get a breast augmentation in Minneapolis, you can simply go back and talk to your plastic surgeon. But if you get your breast augmentation in Brazil, this becomes significantly harder. If you develop complications, you’ll have to find a new surgeon—and a local surgeon. All of those savings you’ve accumulated will evaporate at that point, and you may even need to pay for an additional surgery. All of which could have been avoided by going to a States-side surgeon in the first place.

Stay Safe and Stay Happy

So, generally, plastic surgery tourism simply isn’t worth it. There are high risks and the same rewards you get back home. And yes, it’s true that you might save some money in the short term—but the risks are pretty high that you’ll have to actually spend more money in the long run. Plastic surgery tourism might be really tempting, especially with the collapse of the Real in Brazil, not to mention other areas of the world where the dollar can go further. We’re all looking for a deal. I get that. But you’d be better off talking to a board certified plastic surgeon about financing than you would be booking a ticket to Brazil.