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What Are the Dangers of Surgery Abroad?

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Medical tourism has been around for many years, but it’s only recently that the industry has really started to take off. Sparked by long waiting lists for treatments on the NHS, and the financial benefits of travelling to countries with lower costs of living, it’s reported that more UK patients than ever before are looking at having procedures done abroad.

It’s estimated that the medical tourism sector is growing at a rate of 20 to 30 percent each year, but the truth is that many patients are coming home with more than they bargained for. Research shows that infection, pain, and extended wound healing are amongst some of the most common concerns affecting those that have cosmetic procedures undertaken abroad, but why is medical tourism so notoriously risky?

Let’s take a look:

  • Practitioner Training

Some countries, particularly developing countries, have  lower healthcare standards than we have in the UK. This means that surgeons, practitioners, and technicians may not be required to undertake the same high levels of training that are necessary in Britain, increasing the risk of complications and suboptimal results. This idea is supported by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastics Surgeons, who report an increasing number of patients requesting fixes for botched procedures carried out abroad.

  • Cleanliness & Hygiene

In addition to varying standards of healthcare, other countries may also have different standards of cleanliness and hygiene. When scheduling an appointment with a clinic abroad, it is not always easy or cost effective to travel to the clinic prior to the procedure to check out the cleanliness of the treatment rooms or assess whether suitable hygiene is being carried out and promoted amongst practitioners. Dirty environments can significantly increase the risk of infection during aesthetic treatments.

  • Procedure Regulation

It’s important to remember that there is no such thing as global regulation in terms of aesthetic treatments and surgery, and that each country will have their own ways of working. Unfortunately, this appears to be more common in low-key, non-surgical procedures, with the UK Government reporting that many countries have absolutely no regulations set out for treatments including Botox, dermal fillers, and laser hair removal; 3 treatments which account for 90% of all aesthetic treatments amongst UK patients.

Is it Worth it?

Research and surveys by the Medical Tourism Association confirm that cost is one of the primary motivators for booking a procedure abroad. The cost of aesthetic medicine does vary around the world, and for some treatments it may cost less to travel internationally than book an appointment with a local clinic. However, there is undoubtedly greater risk involved in travelling abroad for treatment and the cost of resolving problems and rectifying the poor results of botched procedures can far outweigh the savings. It is always best to choose a local clinic, do your own research into the treatment and venue, and do everything you can to minimise the risk.

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