A Closer Look at Cosmetic Surgery Abroad
Whether it is Colombia, Mexico, or the Dominican Republic, traveling across borders for surgery is known as “medical tourism”. As a practising physician and surgeon, I just don’t get it.
In a perfect world, all my patients would live next door to me. At least for the early recovery from their surgeries. Most patients focus on the day of surgery as the pinnacle of their treatment, but to me, that day is the easiest and most controlled part. Most of what I do is preoperative and postoperative management.
A Face-to-Face Assessment Is A Must
An in-person consult allows me to examine that patient, their areas of concern their skin tightness. The degree of skin tightness is really an in-person evaluation. It can be the difference between recommending liposuction vs a tummy tuck, or a breast lift vs a set of breast implants. These things make a huge difference in planning the correct surgery. Changing the plan at the last minute is anxiety-provoking and far more common when a patient has only been seen over a webcam.
Patients are encouraged to see me as many times as they like before surgery. I want them to be comfortable with me, my staff, the surgery, and the facility. It is important that we are comfortable with one another as well. Video consults alone and meeting your surgeon for the first time face-to-face as you are wheeled back into the operating room makes an already challenging day more worrisome.
Someone There for You After Surgery
Post-operatively I want my patients to know I am available to them. We call, we check-in, and we chat, but I like to be around in case there are emergencies or concerns. It is easy to meet me in the office when the office is nearby. Exceedingly difficult if you must get on a plane. I shudder when I hear of patients flying right after surgery. Flying too soon can increase the risk of complications, and 30,000 feet is the worst place to have an emergency.
Surgery is, to say the least, terrifying but having your surgeon at a reasonable distance is comforting. Yes, I do go away, and I do take vacations, but also have friends and colleagues available and ready to step in as I do for them. There is continuity.
Questionable International Surgical Standards (Or Lack Thereof)
I trust the US healthcare system. We are held to a higher standard of cleanliness, safety, and regulation than most countries. That does not mean that a complication could not occur but stacking the deck in your favor makes common sense to me.
Often seen as cost savings, many patients spend more than they would have otherwise had they just stayed in the vicinity. It is far less expensive to prevent complications than to treat them once they have occurred, especially when your doctor is nowhere to help.
There are excellent surgeons worldwide, but I have seen too many patients come back from abroad with issues that could have been mitigated if they only had access to their operating surgeon.
As you embark upon your surgery and select your surgeon, remember that your recovery is not measured in days or weeks but in months or years. For most procedures, the result is when the wounds have healed, the scars have settled, the tissues relaxed, and the swelling is gone. That happens between six to 12 months post-surgery. Be sure that you have a surgeon you have access to see you, teach you, guide you, lay hands on you, and calm you during this journey.
Choose a Local Plastic Surgeon You Can Trust
The author of this post, Dr Adam G. Tattelbaum, MDPC, is a double-board certified plastic surgeon. Before considering cosmetic surgery abroad, call Dr Tattelbaum’s office at (301)-656-6398 or contact his office online.
Dr Tattelbaum offers in-person consultations at his offices in Maryland and Virginia. Virtual consultations are also available.