Plastic Surgery Abroad - Medical Tourism Pros & Cons

Written By
Megan Apa
Upload on
August 9, 2022

North America has long been thought of as the pinnacle of cosmetic surgery providing expertise as well as safety. While there are various countries around the world with more plastic surgeries performed annually, such as South Korea, it is North America that remains the premiere destination for cosmetic surgery. However, there are many individuals who choose to weigh their options and look at plastic surgery abroad for their cosmetic/reconstructive surgery needs.

Countries like Brazil, India, South Korea, Germany and Mexico top the charts for countries with the most cosmetic procedures. This can spark interest in looking to travel across the pond for a patient’s own surgery, but is it a wise decision? Exploring the pros and cons of surgery abroad can help to shed light on that question.

What compels a person to seek plastic surgery abroad? The most prevalent factor is cost.

The average procedure in countries like Mexico, India and countries in Eastern Europe are a staggering 70% lower than what to expect in North America. This is, of course, rather appealing, as cosmetic surgery can be rather expensive and patients may be looking for a more reasonable rate. But, you have to understand that while shelling out less of your hard-earned money may sound great, ultimately you get what you pay for. Dr. Jugenburg says, “Overseas plastic surgery deals often offer packages that promise to cover all aspects of the surgical journey but that is often false. Patients will have to cover the costs leading up to and after the surgery. They are also financially responsible for any complications that may arise from the procedure.”

When comparing costs, It is always important to do research before deciding on plastic surgery abroad for a procedure to save money, as headline costs may be the only costs advertised.

One of the largest concerns a person should have is the lack of ability to follow up with their surgeon in person after a surgery abroad. While the original surgery may be inexpensive, several flights to and from a place like Thailand can really add up. If any complications arise or the surgery is less than satisfactory, it is always best to see your surgeon in person, as they know exactly how the operation was performed and it is next to impossible to find a surgeon who will perform a revision on a botched procedure performed overseas. Additionally, recovering in familiar surroundings should weigh heavily in your decision. Hidden costs can include: recovery care, extended hotel stays, flights to come back for check ups or complications, hospital care, and more.

According to Dr. Jugenburg, “In North America you can be assured that there is strenuous training and the highest standard of required credentials for surgeons. For overseas plastic surgeons, the requirements are different. Everything from the amount of schooling to the limitations of surgery, can vary. This can lead to less experienced surgeons, and lower quality operating facilities, and less safe procedures."Remember: Not all Cosmetic Surgeons are Plastic Surgeons.

Language barriers and distance can get in the way of what you want to accomplish and where your research can take you.

International medical standards vary from country to country, as do medical societies and organisations. Specific criteria may depend on the country or organization, and it is important to be aware of these specificities if you're looking for international medical certification.Personalization dependent on your individualized needs.A lack of time to prepare for surgery in person with the clinic can lead to less favourable consultations and even more difficulties when complications or undesired results arise. In order to avoid these problems, make sure you have plenty of time to prepare by meeting with your surgeon and team well in advance of the procedure.

What happens if something goes wrong?

A cosmetic surgery clinic abroad may be motivated to downplay or ignore the risk of complications or unwanted results, which always accompany surgery. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for patients in these situations to follow up with their surgeon or healthcare provider should anything go wrong. What is medical care like there? Are you near your family and loved ones? What could those bills look like? Most importantly - surgery is tough on your body - do you really want to be travelling back?

A brand-new Mercedes or a used Honda Civic? You get what you pay for.

The Mercedes may come with a hefty price tag, but you know that it will not only look fantastic, but will function phenomenally and stand the test of time. The used Civic? Well, you’re likely heading for more than a few trips to the local mechanic and while its outward appearance is adequate, you can’t help but notice the minute flaws in the finish. Sacrificing quality for penny-pinching or prudent financial awareness is an option, but if the desire is to improve confidence through physical aesthetics, paying extra for a quality cosmetic procedure at home is where the logic lies.

Trusting the internet.

Unfortunately, there has been a recent rise in the number of medical tourism scams where clinics are increasing their rates to lure patients to expensive and dangerous destinations such as Turkey, Poland, or Thailand. These clinics are often willing to lie about the quality of the surgery or the health of the patients to make an extra buck. Many unscrupulous online marketers don't follow any guidelines or regulations, meaning that the positive reviews you see on consumer sites could be fake. What looks like a premium facility might not be as good as it seems, and the marketing has been aggressive and elaborate to create the illusion of quality.

Would a clinic that you would want to trust with your life and body, really be the one needing to offer insane discounts?

Read some of the Plastic Surgery Horror Stories where people warn of dangers of medical toursim...

Overall, saving a little money is great; however, we should never sacrifice quality, safety or our logical judgement to hold on to money, even if it is a substantial amount.

In Dr. Jugenburg’s words, “Plastic surgery is no longer just for the rich and famous. It has been made accessible for people of all financial backgrounds. Even patients who aim to penny pinch can appreciate that years later, they won’t remember the difference of a couple thousand dollars, but they will remember the difference of multiple revisions or botched work.” A procedure conducted by a highly accredited, industry respected surgeon at home in whom you can fully trust to provide the service you wish at any extra expense seemingly outweighs the alternatives.

There are many options for Financing. You just need to find what is right for you.

Below, you’ll find a chart comparing the prices of some of the most popular cosmetic procedures from around the world.

Keep in mind, these prices are minimums and rage majorly depending on quality. A lot of the abroad places do not factor in travel, flights, complications, etc. Types of SurgeryUSACanadaColumbiaTurkeyThailandUAELebanonJapanItalyUpper Eyelid Blepharoplasty$3,650$4,300$1,850    $1,300$609$3,100$2,500$3,419$4,240Rhinoplasty (nose job)$7,000$3,500$4,550$2,300$2,795$7,700$4,000$4,062$5,655Face lift ( mini)$8,750$11,600$5,550$2,700$4,826$9,500$6,000$3,506$7,350Breast Augmentation (silicone)$8,200$7,200$4,000$3,400$3,100$8,900$4,500$5,786$9,330Breast Mastopexy (breast lift)$8,000$7,250$4,500$2,500$4,900$7,900$4,100$7,145$7,350Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck)$8,160$8,400$4,500$2,700$5,500$6700$5,000$13,677$8,482Brazilian butt lift (fat transfer) w/lipo$11,250$11,200$5,000$4,000$2,000$7,500$8,000$4,050$5,700Liposuction of abdomen/flanks$5,000$6,100$2,600$2,600$1,700$5,650$5,000$4,266$5,089Exchange rate to the USD $1.001=1.25 CAD1= 3999 peso1=0.88 euro1= 32.80 baht1=3.67 dirham1=1510 lb1=114 yen1=0.88 euro

Prices do not include the local tax, VAT, Consumption Tax, HST or consultation fee and other additional fees that come after consultation, possible anaesthesia fee, surgeon fee, lab fees, surgical facility fee, medication cost, after care cost including compression garments.