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Matt Hlavacek, MD, DDS
Jason Baker, DDS



Seeking cosmetic surgery overseas poses risks

May 7, 2014, 4:07 am

medical tourismIt may be tempting to consider traveling overseas for cosmetic surgery, especially when faced with medical tourism brochures that feature fabulous-looking men and women who spend their days recovering beachside and claim that they have saved hundreds and thousands of dollars. In reality, those images are usually far from the truth, even if financial savings do exist. Traveling overseas for cosmetic surgery is risky at best. At Kansas City Surgical Arts, our goal is to provide you with all the information you need so you can better understand the risks of and dangers of medical tourism and of undergoing cosmetic surgery abroad.

According to a March 31, 2014 report issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), medical tourism, particularly for cosmetic procedures, has recently increased significantly, along with the rise in post-surgical complications for patients who have traveled abroad. While the report specifically discussed cases from the Dominican Republic, medical tourism in destinations such as Thailand, Mexico, and Costa Rica have also been implicated as being problematic.

According to the CDC, 19 women from the United States suffered severe bacterial infections after traveling to the Dominican Republic. While a bacterial infection may not seem serious at first, the infections these women suffered from required long-term treatment with antibiotics, additional surgeries to drain fluid accumulations, and surgeries to remove infected tissues. Thankfully none of these women died from surgery-related complications, but their bacterial infections and subsequent surgeries pose a risk of greater damage than the original cosmetic procedures were meant to correct in the first place. Additionally, others have died from complications related to procedures done in substandard clinics with poorly trained physicians and staff. Typically, those who have complications related to medical tourism fall victim to bacterial infections and other illnesses related to poor sanitation, and some suffer from under-trained physicians performing procedures improperly.

One reason suggested for such complications, and these women are but a mere few of the many affected similarly every year, is the laxity of regulations in many countries regarding physician training and certification. Many of these countries also have regulations regarding sanitary conditions and technology standards in surgical facilities. While traveling overseas for cosmetic surgery may be an attractive idea when considering the cost of surgery and when faced with brochures promising a relaxing recovery in beautiful surroundings, the trade-offs are clearly significant and serious.

So what can you do to protect yourself from a similar fate? First and foremost, avoid medical tourism. Even if the facility and physician appear to be top-notch, you have no way of knowing whether their qualifications are accurate or not. Thankfully, the United States holds its physicians and facilities to stringent standards of care and cleanliness. Surgeons in the United States are required to hold board certifications, to undergo continuing education and training after certification, and must operate only in approved facilities that must meet strict standards for cleanliness and safety.

Before you consider any cosmetic procedure, schedule a consultation with Dr. Hlavacek at Kansas City Surgical Arts by calling (816) 286-4126 today. Dr. Hlavacek and everyone at Kansas City Surgical Arts want to ensure that you know the ins and outs of your procedure, that you have all of your questions and concerns fully addressed, and that you have a safe and healthy experience from start to finish. Before your consultation, we also encourage you to read about Dr. Hlavacek’s extensive experience and certifications, and to learn more about selecting the right cosmetic surgeon. An educated patient is an empowered patient, and there is no way to be empowered or educated about your surgeon or facilities when traveling overseas for cosmetic surgery. Call us today — we look forward to hearing from you!