Medical Tourism: the True Cost

Medical Tourism: the True Cost

Dr. Larry Nichter of the Pacific Center for plastic surgery would like to make prospective patients aware of the risks and downsides of medical tourism (traveling abroad to undergo elective surgery).

Medical tourism has becoming increasingly popular in recent years; patients have been flying out of the U.S. for plastic surgery, lured by lower prices.

However, a parallel trend has also appeared: plastic surgeons in the United States are finding themselves treating an increasing number of patients who plastic surgery abroad, correcting complications and errors. A survey by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons found that 80% of the responding doctors had treated American medical tourists for complications including infection, contour abnormalities, and hematoma.

Medical tourists are often led to believe that they will receive the same quality of care for a lower price in a foreign clinic. But while it is true that the cost of plastic surgery in some foreign countries is lower, this is often because the quality of care and surgery is compromised. Such patients also seem to neglect the possibility of complications and the need for a follow-up visit.

In addition to the risks posed by sub-standard medical care abroad, medical tourists must consider the risks of injections and implants in other countries. The recent crisis with French breast implant maker Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) exemplifies this problem. PIP used industrial- rather than medical-grade silicone on their implants in an effort to reduce costs, a measure which probably increased the danger of rupture. PIP implants have not been used in the United States since 2000. Removal of these implants has been recommended by the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

It is often the case that medical tourists end up spending more money because they have to pay to treat complications from their overseas surgery.

Source: The Cost of Medical Tourism – Medscape Medical News
Source: Official Statement on Faulty PIP and ROFIL breast implants – ISAPS

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