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The dos and don’ts of plastic surgery abroad

Cosmetic surgery isn’t just for celebrities any more. It’s accessible to everyone, young and old, hoping to enhance their looks and feel good about themselves. But with so many procedures taking place and stories of complete body and face transformations hitting the media (for the right and wrong reasons) on a weekly basis, are we in danger of forgetting the risks associated with going under the knife?

Just as anyone would research before they bought a car or house to get the best deal for their money, more and more people are turning to Thailand, Poland and Brazil, for cut-price surgery. Very often it’s cheaper to have surgery abroad, even with the added flight and hotel costs. For example, according to Dr Jeremy Hunt, face sugery such a rhinoplasty, or nose job, can be a third of the price abroad, with hotels and food included.
But what are the risks of heading to different shores in the quest for the perfect face and body?
1. Different clinical standards
What’s considered standard clinical excellence in one country may not even hit the radar in another. Although technique and practice rarely differ, the standard of care you would expect afterwards can vary greatly country to country.  Regulatory bodies will have their own code of conduct for members, so it’s important to find out what care you can expect when travelling for surgery abroad.
2. Only meeting your surgeon on the day
It can take years to find a hairdresser that ‘gets’ you. So be wary if you’re only going to meet your surgeon on the day. What you consider big he may consider natural. What you call natural, he may call fake. What you may think is a little shave off the ridge of your nose, he may consider far too drastic. If the only choice you have is meeting your surgeon on the day of your surgery, at least schedule in time for a Skype chat, or even a phone call. If you feel your surgeon isn’t on your wavelength, it’s best to know beforehand.
3. Lack of easily available aftercare
After any surgery, it’s wise to carry on with aftercare as advised by your surgeon. This may mean travelling back to the clinic 6-8 weeks after treatment to check on healing and settling time or forfeiting your right to corrective surgery if something goes wrong. Legally, in the event of complications, it’s very difficult to consider compensation – after all, each country has is own laws.
Tips for travelling abroad for surgery include:
  • Getting the phone number of your surgeon for a Skype or phone-to-phone chat. It’s not as good as meeting them in person, by any means. But you’ll get an idea of how your surgeon sounds and can run through far more information than via email.
  • Ask about recovery times. What happens if there are complications? Are your rights void if you don’t go back for follow up appointments?
  • Check your surgeon and clinic are registered with the regulatory medical body of that country.
  • Check your surgeon is speaking your language, both literally, and when it comes to the look you’re after.
With a bit of forethought, keeping your wits about you and taking the time to find a surgeon, clinic and hospital that’s right for you, you can drastically reduce the chances of botched surgery abroad and have the body you’ve always dreamed of.

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