Important considerations before doing surgery abroad

Even if British cosmetic surgery generally holds a high international standard there are many foreign plastic surgeons and clinics that have as high a standard as the British.

The challenge for those considering undergoing a breast enlargement, tummy tuck, liposuction, nose job or any other cosmetic procedure abroad is to find these clinics.

Thus, it is important to understand before undergoing aesthetical surgery abroad not to let cost be a decisive factor when choosing your clinic. Just as in the UK there are foreign clinics with a clear connection between price and performance.

Below you will find a number of points that clarify what is the most important thing to consider when considering cosmetic surgery abroad.

All about cosmetic plastic surgery abroad

1. Learn all about your procedure

As a patient it is ones personal responsibility to be well informed about the cosmetic surgery procedure one is planning to do. This is even more important for those wishing to undergo surgery abroad, since plastic surgery procedures can be performed with different techniques and methods. Some of these may be old, others untried and therefore not as safe.

As a patient at a clinic abroad one must make sure that the procedure will be performed with a tried and recognised method and that the implants used come from an established manufacturer.

On our information pages about the different cosmetic surgery procedures » the recognised surgical methods for the different procedures are explained. You should make sure that it is with one of these methods that your plastic surgery will be performed.

You should also undergo a consultation with a British cosmetic surgeon. There you will receive information and can ask questions about what risks and possibilities are involved. Such a visit generally costs approx. £50.

2. Choose an established clinic and verify the surgeon’s competence

The educational demands for a cosmetic surgery specialist are almost the same around the world, just like the methods that are used within the speciality. Theoretically, a patient can therefore expect as good a postoperative result from liposuction, breast enlargement or a tummy tuck performed at a foreign clinic as at a British one. BUT, just as in the UK the final results depend on who performs the procedure and what equipment and support this individual has.

Assuring that one ends up at the right plastic surgeon/clinic is one of the most important measures for anyone considering undergoing plastic surgery abroad. Unfortunately this can be difficult, especially because of language barriers and the fact that many foreign clinics use misleading marketing in order to hide lacking competencies.

Just as in the UK there are foreign societies for different medical specialities. For aesthetical cosmeticsurgery in the UK there is an association called The British Association of Aesthetic Cosmetic Surgeons. Each country has a local equivalence of this association. They are often called something like The + country name + Society for Aesthetic alternatively Cosmetic Surgery.

In some countries there is no society only for aesthetical surgery but instead the entire cosmetic surgery sector is included in a mutual association. An example of such a country is Poland where the society is called The Polish Society of Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery.

By choosing a surgeon that is a member of the local specialist society for plastic surgery you are assured that you will end up with an individual that has the necessary competence needed to perform plastic surgery in a proper manner.

If the local association is a group society for all cosmetic surgeons then you should make sure that the surgeon has specialist knowledge and experience of aesthetical cosmetic surgery. This implies that the surgeon should have undergone formal specialist training in plastic surgery with further specialist concentration within aesthetical plastic surgery.

How one verifies the surgeons background varies between countries but you should ask your intended surgeon about his/her formal competence and experience of aesthetical cosmetic surgery. You should also ask how many procedures, like the one you want to have done, have been performed by your surgeon. You can also ask to see reference patients.

3. Check the need of aftercare

When you undergo cosmetic surgery at a British clinic you will often return to the clinic within two weeks after your procedure for a follow-up and to remove any bandages and sutures. If any complications were to arise you would again return to the clinic to take necessary measures.

Follow-ups and returning visits are not always practically possible if you have undergone surgery at a foreign clinic; at least not if the visit is necessary once you have arrived home. This does not necessarily mean increased problems because British citizens have the right to medical treatment irrespective if your condition has been caused by cosmetic surgery abroad or for other reasons.

If you have already returned home, you will need to deal with the follow-up and suture removal yourself at a private clinic in your area. Although, the trip is often planned and adapted so that you have enough time for one follow-up before leaving.

If complications that require additional surgery were to occur once you have arrived home you must return to the clinic or turn to a British cosmetic surgery clinic. Therefore before your procedure it is necessary to ask your foreign clinic what rules apply if additional surgery is necessary. It needs to be clear who is responsible for the cost of the trip and any possible surgery.

4. The preparatory medical examination

Prior to a plastic surgery procedure a medical examination is always performed. The examination consists of three parts. One part requires answering questions that provides the surgeon with an idea about your general health condition. The second part is photos of the area of surgery. The third involves a health check-up with tests.

How extensive the medical examination is depends on what surgery you are going to do. When your procedure is performed in the UK the clinic deals with these examinations. When undergoing plastic surgery at a foreign clinic, with a short stay, one will need to fill out a questionnaire, get photos of the surgical area and visit a private UK doctor to perform the preparatory health check-up. Thereafter one sends the questionnaire, any test results and photos to the foreign clinic.

Many foreign clinics have prepared information with instructions about what examinations the private doctor should perform, facilitating the preparations for the patient. Most often the private doctor that performs the preparatory health check-up/tests can also help taking the photos of the area of surgery and be responsible for the follow-up after the cosmetic surgery.

5. Assure you have good communication

One of the most common reasons for dissatisfaction following cosmetic surgery is the lack of communication between patient and surgeon. It is therefore important that you and your cosmetic surgeon understand each other, especially in terms of the results you wish to achieve.

Many foreign clinics have patient coordinators and surgeons that speak good English. Some even have interpreters. Before undergoing your cosmetic surgery abroad you should meet your plastic surgeon before the procedure is performed. Clinics that do not offer this opportunity should be dropped.

The meeting with the cosmetic surgeon normally takes place when you register at the clinic one or a few days before your surgery. For simple procedures the meeting takes place when you arrive to the clinic for the procedure. If the meeting with your surgeon doesn’t feel good then you should not go through with it.

Read more about choosing you clinic and surgeon and what to think about regarding consultations prior to plastic surgery.

6. Clarify the terms of payment

Normally you pay a deposit of about 10% of the surgery fee to the clinic when you book your surgery. Thereafter you pay the remaining payment for your cosmetic surgery when you are registered at the clinic.

Most clinics accept both cash and credit cards. Before booking your surgery you should be clear about what rules apply to your chosen clinic.

Checklist for plastic surgery abroad

For those considering cosmetic surgery abroad the best precautionary measure is to be well informed. Below you will find a checklist that emphasises the most important points for your preparatory information collection.

You as a patient are responsible to find out about the following:

  1. The procedure in general
  2. Which method will be used (type of: incision, anaesthesia, sutures)
  3. Risk of side-effects and complications
  4. The need of aftercare and restrictions after surgery
  5. The surgeons full name, education, specialist competence, experience of the procedure and membership status in the local specialist association for Aesthetical cosmetic surgery
  6. The cost of the surgery and details about what is included in this cost
  7. Who is responsible for the cost of possible additional surgery and other care
  8. The possibility to contact reference patients
  9. The possibility to see reference photos

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