Why Plastic Surgery Tourism Is a Dangerous Idea

Why Plastic Surgery Tourism Is a Dangerous Idea

Every few months, another news story comes out about someone being hospitalized due to the complications of an international plastic surgery procedure. As a plastic surgeon serving the Chandler, AZ, area, I hear far too many stories about patients who have traveled abroad to save money on surgery and ended up paying a far greater price in the form of their health.

The trend of going out of the country for cosmetic treatment isn’t new, but underrepresentation of its dangers continues to lead to complications and untimely deaths. It’s as important as ever for patients to understand what cosmetic surgery tourism is, why it seems appealing, and why it’s just not worth the risk.

What is cosmetic surgery tourism?

While the U.S. is the leading provider of cosmetic surgery procedures, Mexico, Brazil, Japan, and South Korea follow closely behind. Patients sometimes choose to travel internationally to these countries in pursuit of various forms of plastic surgery treatments. Breast augmentation is the most popular procedure worldwide, accounting for 15% of all surgeries performed.

Why do patients continue to seek treatment outside of the U.S.?

Price is often the biggest draw when it comes to medical tourism. Surgical body contouring procedures such as breast augmentation, tummy tuck, and liposuction are typically more expensive in the U.S., and patients can save 40% to 80% when they have them done in other countries. Patients are more willing to experiment with cosmetic surgery internationally than they are with other medical procedures, often because they’ve heard anecdotes about friends or family members getting “quick fix” cosmetic treatments abroad.

What sets the U.S. apart from other countries in plastic surgery?

The U.S. is highly regulated when it comes to medical treatment, cosmetic or otherwise. The process of becoming a board-certified plastic surgeon involves years of training, rigorous testing, and peer reviews designed to make sure only the most skilled and qualified doctors operate on patients. Certification requirements vary in other countries, which can make it difficult to determine if the surgeon performing your procedure is truly qualified.

On top of certifications for surgeons, the U.S. also has several regulatory systems in place to protect patients from dangerous practices. Devices such as implants and products such as dermal fillers must all comply with strict FDA safety standards, which does not hold true outside of the country.

Why could it be more expensive to go cheap?

Not every patient experiences life-threatening complications after an international procedure, but the ones who do often end up spending more time in hospitals once they return to the U.S. Infections, wound healing issues, hernias, and deformities caused by substandard health practices ultimately cost patients additional money and peace of mind. The price of damaging your health goes far beyond any financial cost, and risking your safety is never worth it.

For those interested in pursuing plastic surgery with a board-certified plastic surgeon near Chandler, AZ, I am excited to help you safely reach your aesthetic goals. You can start by contacting us online or calling (480) 466-7355 (Gilbert) to request an initial consultation.

2 Responses to Why Plastic Surgery Tourism Is a Dangerous Idea


    I have lost 130 lbs in the last 4 years, since then I gained 30 lbs which I am working on losing the extra weight. But my arms are so big and flabby. I hate them. I’ve tried every workout but nothing helps. I’ve never had any type of surgery and I’m nervous to ever have surgery but I also hate not being able to dress nice showing my arms. This is something I’ve thought about doing. An arm lift.

    • Dr. Josh Olson says:

      Great work with that much weight loss! Unfortunately that comes with the loose skin and other difficulties finding well fitting clothing. An arm lift is most likely the best option but will have a scar from the armpit to elbow. Scars fade but can still sometimes be visible so it’s a trade off. Call us if you would like to set up a consultation

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