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Medical Tourism - A Danger Overseas and On Home Soil


The search for inexpensive cosmetic surgery, either in the form of traveling to a different country or receiving treatment from un-certified individuals coming to America, is a dangerous gamble and could cost more than it's worth.

A demand-driven industry, cosmetic surgery has seen rises in cost that seem to defy the sluggish economy and it's slow recovery from the recession. However, the fact remains that people are still struggling to cut costs and unfortunately cosmetic surgery is no exception. To deal these rising costs, many patients are either seeking surgery outside of the country, known as medical tourism or having surgery performed by foreign individuals that come to America, claiming to be physicians in their home country.

Recently seen on The Doctors, a patient who previously traveled to Mexico for silicone injections is now suffering from terrible results: hardened and drooping silicone in her face. She visited the set as a patient of plastic surgeon Dr. Leif Rogers, who has treated her to repair the damage done abraod. After removing as much of the silicone possible and performing a CO2 laser treatment Dr. Rogers was able to greatly improve the patient's appearance. Dr. Rogers points out that practices abroad or occasionally, even in this country, may illegally use silicone intended for windows or bathrooms to inject into patients as a permanent filler.

medical tourism on the doctors
Results of Repair Procedure by Dr. Leif Rogers
Image courtesy of www.thedoctorstv.com

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), statistics are not available for the amount of patients who seek surgery abroad. However, it is understood that the vast majority of these procedures that people are seeking overseas are not of the minimally invasive category, but are major cosmetic surgeries such as breast augmentations liposuction, facelifts and tummy tucks

While there are many qualified and talented cosmetic surgeons abroad, some countries have lowered regulations, so Dr. Drew Ordon stresses the importance of thorough research of the physician and the practice when considering traveling abroad for plastic surgery. While patients may seemingly save money initially, many other factors should be taken into consideration: any aftercare or potential complications are worsened by not having your doctor near.

Another dangerous trend that has been seen is foreign individuals who claim to be physicians in their home countries coming to America to perform procedures at a lesser cost in motel or hotel rooms. Recently, a few cases have come to light of patients seeking buttock augmentation who have died from complications under these conditions. The most recent, as Fox News reported, being the death of 42-year-old Elena Caro at the hands of 2 Colombian nationals who performed the botched surgery.

Even if the individuals who offer discount black market cosmetic surgeries claim to be physicians in their home countries, they have no right to practice medicine in the US. Fox News also reports that these foreign individuals will often befriend or advertise within ethnic communities, taking advantage of patients of a lower socioeconomic class - forsaking the safety of a clean and well-equipped center and accreditation for services at much lesser cost.

The importance of researching your physician for any surgical procedure cannot be stressed enough - regardless of cost. The practice or facility should be equipped for any emergency that may arise. Obviously, many people consider cost when contemplating cosmetic surgery but remember, if the prices sounds too good to be true, they probably are.