Surgical Vacations: Bargaining for Trouble

Susan Anderson

by Susan Anderson | November 30, 2012 @ 11:00AM

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In a recent article, Forbes magazine reported that medical tourism specifically for plastic surgery is on the rise. Lured by the exotic locals and “special recovery” hotel packages, medical travellers are considering scheduling their elective surgeries in places like the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. Savings for cosmetic procedures abroad can be up to half-off of what one would pay domestically. Heck, there are even special group discounts so your whole social circle can plan together. But are these low-cost, international “packages” worth it? Afterall, plastic surgery is not just another spa treatment.

The real cost of surgery vacations

Undergoing any type of surgery is not without risks and the possibility of complications. And let’s remember that medical oversight is not created equal in all countries. Medical travellers are potentially exposing themselves to inexperienced or inadequately trained surgeons, questionable facilities in terms of equipment and standards and medications and anesthesia not approved by American FDA standards. In addition, in the unlikely event that recovery in not what one expected or a more serious complication arises you do not have the advantage of your medical insurance coverage, your regular physician or the same form of emergency care one would find at home.

In addition, recovering from surgery does not feel like a vacation. Most surgeries will leave you with mild discomfort to considerable pain for several days, if not weeks. Frolicing on the beach or sitting out in the hot sun does not sound like a good way to recover. Give me a nice comfy bed, a good book and room service. No need to fly 3000 miles to stare at 4 hotel room walls. Chances are that those medical travellers do not have a chance to enjoy the sights, sounds and culture of the countries they visit. Plus, you need to factor in the impact that unexpected complications could have. What if you are unable to return home? What would be the additional hotel charges, airfare ticket changes, or the personal and professional impact back at home?

The real cost of returning home after a surgery vacation

As the say, all good things must come to an end. Unless you are an heiress will infinite resources, you will need to return home and resume your normal life. You may require additional care or experience complications that would make it necessary to follow up with a local specialist. This specialist may not be privy to the details of your surgery or the methods used, making it difficult to treat you expediently.

In a nutshell, medical tourism is a lot more complex than many of the “Sun, Sand and Silicon” advertisers make it seem. Do your research and choose a medically certified and experienced doctor to perform your desired procedures.

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