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Medical tourism is a term that has become extremely common over the past decade due to its rapidly increasing rise in popularity.

In Europe alone, the medical tourism market is predicted to grow by 11.7% in 2021 and cosmetic surgery accounted for 17% of the market share in 2020.

But what is medical tourism? And is it safe when it comes to cosmetic surgery?

In this article, we will explore the trend of medical tourism, discuss the dangers associated with it and offer advice on what to consider if you are planning on going abroad for a cosmetic surgery procedure.

The Definition of Medical Tourism

When an individual makes the decision to travel abroad solely to undertake a medical or cosmetic procedure or treatment, this is known as medical tourism.

The main reason driving the popularity of medical tourism is typically that the cost involved for medical care is a lot lower in another country compared to their home country.

For example, residents in the USA, where the health service is privatised and potentially very costly, often choose to venture overseas for medical care to save money.

Why People Travel Abroad For Cosmetic Surgery

Medical tourism isn’t just chosen for standard medical care or procedures - it is also an extremely popular choice for those looking for cosmetic surgery at a lower cost. Research has shown that it is possible to save up to 40 to 80% by having a cosmetic surgery procedure abroad.

Another reason people choose to travel for their surgery is so they are able to bypass any rules and regulations that may be set in place by their own government, hospital or insurance company, which would prevent them from having the procedure in their own country.

In addition, many foreign hospitals offer a luxurious and ‘spa-like’ feel, making them appealing to people as more of a retreat than hospital trip, attracting people to tie in a holiday with their surgery.

Although this may sound tempting, there are many risks involved with medical tourism. It’s incredibly important that you have considered all possible outcomes if you’re thinking of undertaking any cosmetic surgery procedure and are debating travelling to have it done.

What Are the Most Popular Medical Tourism Destinations for Cosmetic Surgery?

There are many popular destinations for particular types of cosmetic surgery. For example, Brazil is extremely attractive for plastic surgery procedures, while Turkey is a desired destination for dentistry work.

In addition, Thailand is reported to be the number one spot for gender reassignment surgery.

In terms of general medical tourism, India is renowned for its specialist cardiac and orthopaedic surgeries, while Singapore is said to attract people for their oncology and neurology services.

Is Medical Tourism Safe?

Using a medical or cosmetic clinic abroad can, of course, be safe, however there is often an increased risk of complications involved in comparison to having the procedure done in your own country.

What are the risks involved with medical tourism?

  • Air travel following any type of surgery can increase your risk of developing a blood clot - you need to ensure that you have waited for long enough post-surgery before flying home.
  • Even something as simple as the difference in food and water abroad can cause complications. Having an upset stomach following your surgery can lead to further illness, leaving you uncomfortable and unwell.
  • Some overseas hospitals might not have an ICU facility should there be any life-threatening complications during or after your surgery, meaning if anything goes wrong you will be unable to receive the critical care required.

What to Consider Before Getting a Procedure Abroad

It is crucial that you have considered any potential risks and complications you may face when choosing to have any surgery or medical procedure done abroad such as the following:

  • You should always do plenty of research into whether you would be covered by the clinic in terms of insurance if anything were to go wrong.
  • You should also check your travel insurance policy as complications after botched surgery often aren't covered.
  • You will need to confirm what the clinic’s procedure is for any follow up appointments. How and where will these be carried out after you have returned home?
  • How would you be able to get home in case of any emergency? What would the cost of this be and what might happen if you are, for any reason, unable to travel home? Can you afford to stay where you are for longer than planned?
  • Have you had a consultation and met with the surgeon before the procedure?
  • Are there any language barriers between you and the clinic that could make communication both pre and post surgery difficult? You will need to make sure they are able to answer any questions you may have.
  • Ensure that your facility has some type of international accreditation or certification. For example, The International Association of Plastic Surgeons.This guarantees the level of quality care you will receive at this practice.
  • Weigh up all of the pros and cons of travelling abroad for your procedure, is this something that you are safer having done in your own country despite a slightly higher cost?

What Happens if There Are Complications?

As a UK resident, if you have any complications following cosmetic surgery in a private clinic within the UK, the clinic is liable for your suffering under UK law.

However, if you have complications from surgery abroad upon returning to the UK, any required treatment or aftercare would then need to be covered by the NHS.

This is controversial and the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons has voiced its displeasure over UK residents having a safety net from the NHS when they choose to have surgery overseas, and potentially getting prioritised over those who require plastic surgery services following cancer or a trauma.

Get Expert Advice Now

Here at Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors, we specialise in helping people that have experienced complications due to negligent cosmetic surgery in the UK and, unfortunately, are unable to offer our services to those who have suffered as a result of botched surgery abroad.

However, if you’ve suffered from cosmetic surgery complications in the UK and are in need of expert legal advice, please get in touch with our team today to see how we can help.

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