Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Medical Tourism - Going Abroad for Discount Plastic Surgery

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Medical tourism refers to patients traveling far from home for plastic surgery, usually to another country, for discounted services or perceived care that cannot be obtained at home. A 2008 survey by the consulting firm Deloitte, estimated that 750,000 Americans traveled abroad for medical care in 2007 and projected that the number would rise to 1.6 million annually by 2012. There is nothing inherently wrong with doing this. I as well as many of my colleagues here in Los Angeles receive patients from many parts of the world such as China, the middle east, Europe, Latin America etc. Although you can find good doctors and appropriate care all over the world as a prospective patient you have to do your due diligence before committing yourself to plastic surgery anywhere be it India, Thailand or even the United States. Surgeon and facility qualifications outside your home country may not be verifiable. Vacation destinations may not have formal medical accreditation boards to certify physicians or medical facilities. The criteria you use to search for a surgeon should not change just because he/she is in a different country. (see my web page how to choose a plastic surgeon) Above all else do not let the price tag blind you to the quality of care. Devices and products used may not meet U.S. standards. Cosmetic surgery products or devices used in other countries may not have been tested, proven safe and effective, or been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). For example, an implant used in the United States must meet standards of safety and effectiveness, a process regulated by the FDA. Other countries may not have similar regulations.

I recently saw a patient who had breast implants placed in Mexico. Although the implant manufacturer made implants that were FDA approved for use in the USA her specific implants were not. They were only legal in Mexico. Breasts implants at a quarter of the price in your home country may sound to good to pass up but if you do not do your due diligence in researching the care it could end up costing you a lot more than surgery at home. It can even cost you your life.

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