Risks of Medical Tourism
By Miguel Delgado, M.D.
Medical tourism has been around for thousands of years. According to history, the Greeks traveled hundreds of miles for medical treatments, and spa therapies similar to what we have today. The media reports the upsurge of Americans traveling to other countries for cosmetic surgery procedures such as: tummy tucks, breast augmentation, breast reduction, and facelifts.
Some of the most popular countries for medical tourism are; Thailand, Hungary, India, Philippines, and Brazil. While some of the surgeons may be very qualified, there are several disadvantages that patients need to consider before booking those plane tickets.
Initially, the savings may be very tempting, and the lure of recovering in a tropical paradise may seem ideal.
Dr. Miguel Delgado warns patients to consider the possibility of surgical complications after returning home. Will traveling back to the original country be an option? If not, it may be difficult to find a surgeon willing to take over another surgeon’s problem case. In either case, the cost may negate the initial savings.
A foreign language may make communication with the doctor and staff difficult. Depending on what procedure was done, most patients will need to be careful traveling and lifting heavy suitcases. Additionally, there may be some risks of blood clots if the patient travels The United States is regarded as having the highest medical standards in the world. Many foreign countries do not require doctors to have malpractice insurance; this allows them to offers procedures at much lower fees. Medications and medical devices may not be top quality, leaving the patient vulnerable should there be a complication. Most U.S. insurance
companies do not cover complications due to treatment outside the country.
If recovery in a tropical paradise sounds appealing, remember most incisions need protections from the sun to minimize scarring. Swimming in tropical waters will need to be avoided until after healing to avoid infection. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has additional warnings on their website.
Dr. Delgado advises patients to carefully consider all the pros and cons of traveling out of the United States for their cosmetic surgery procedures. He suggests that patients plan a fun getaway vacation to a tropical paradise after healing from surgery.