21st century innovations like the Internet and low cost Airlines have revolutionised our lives in such way that a whole new world of possibilities have been made available (and significantly “easier”). Extensive and detailed information about a wealth of topics is now at our fingertips, international marketplaces are accessible from the comfort of your own home at the click of a button, you can go to concerts that are being hosted abroad and even, look for Health Care in another country where we find the available treatments more suitable and possibly at better value. The concept of Health Tourism has truly been born. Cosmetic Plastic Surery is among the most researched areas in this respect, therefore driving the need to both address usual concerns with (cosmetic) surgery, but also generate new, more diverse, questions to be considered. So, whether you plan to undergo your procedure in your home town or anywhere else around the globe, please consider the following advice, to avoid “slipping” in the process.

1) Do your research. You think you need surgery (so probably you do), but what is the right procedure for you? Compile enough information on the possible treatments that might be a fit for your particular concerns and needs. Understand the process, have realistic expectations and be informed of the possible risks and complications. Setting your expectations is an important part of the process. All surgeries carry risk and there are no guarantees regarding the results of any procedure. This is also the case for cosmetic surgery; medicine is as much of an art as it is a science. That has the added factor that a person’s perception about their desired goals could be very different from the attainable result. This is why it is so important for you to ask questions and match your expectations with the surgeons and to be open and honest with them. Therefore, prepare yourself with information in order that you can make all the necessary questions when you meet the surgeon. If you’re doing your surgery abroad: Confirm the procedure you are looking for is the one it is offered. You might find different denominations for the same procedures in different countries or even different procedures to treat the same problem. Same rule applies to the products used on the procedures. Some brands have different names in different countries and some brands might not even exist in the country you are looking for your procedure. Also, you might want to check the regulation entity that is followed in each country (FDA, CE…) and how that affects the availability of the treatment your are looking for in that territory. 2) Choose the Surgeon and the Hospital. More research is required here.  First of all, one should check on the doctor’s background, training and professional accreditations.  Every doctor can practice medicine, but not all are surgeons, and definitely not all are Plastic Cosmetic Surgeons. Same thing applies to the medical centre/hospital. Having said this, note that some qualifications and accreditations are complex and difficult to understand for the common person. So, if you have doubts, ask. Moreover a doctor’s experience is essential, however ensure he is up to date with current procedures, certification and training. Again, same thing applies to the medical centre/hospital. If it looks tired, outdated and unsanitary, it’s probably not your place. Another essential font of information are the previous patients’ experiences. If possible, try to talk or read testimonials of patients that have had surgery with your doctor and/or the same type of procedure you are looking at. Checking on the doctors career, profile and testimonials from previous patients will help to decide which doctors you desire to see before you choose the one that makes your more comfortable with their approach to the surgery and your own expectations. Other patients’ testimonials are also priceless when checking on the medical facilities because it gives you valuable information on staff, aftercare facilities and post-operative follow up, for example. If you’re doing your surgery abroad: Find out who the certifying medical entities are in that specific country and request for references and information regarding the surgeon and medical facilities you are looking at. Try to get in contact with other patients from your country that had surgery with the same doctor/medical facility you are researching abroad. Tip: The ISAPS website lists the names and location of over 1,900 certified plastic surgeons in 90 countries. 3) Clarity is the key. It’s part of the surgeons job to understand what you need, why you need it, if you really need it and advise on what is the best treatment/procedure for your particular case. The first motivation for surgery should be to please yourself and you are the only one that should be deciding on it. Therefore, expect your practitioner to talk to you about your health, desires, motives and lifestyle. He will certainly explain about aftercare and make sure your expectations are realistic. It is highly important that you are prepared to be open, clear and honest about all these subjects. Although rare, It might happen that your surgeon does not agree with you and decides not to perform the surgery on you. He has this professional right. You are free to look for a second opinion and make your own decisions, but if a surgeon refuses to perform an operation on you, take this as something to consider. If you’re doing your surgery abroad: Make sure the surgeon and staff speaks the same language that you fluently. If you cannot be easily understood, be prepared for complications. Send photographs of the body areas that you need to treat for an advice in advance from the surgeon. That way, when you get to consultation, your ideas will also be much clearer and you’ll probably have more (right) questions to do.

If you choose to do your surgery abroad, make sure your surgeon is accredited and qualified and that there are no language barriers. In the photo, Dr. Nasir during consultation with an International Patient at BWMC.

4) Take enough time off. Ask your surgeon how much time of recovery you will need and when you can expect to resume your work and normal activities. Post-operative care after surgery can be as important as surgery itself for the optimum results of your procedure. If you’re doing your surgery abroad: Patients will be asked to stay in the close vicinity to where the surgery was performed for one to three weeks depending on the procedure and considering that everything goes to plan. In case that your healing time is longer than the average or if you have any surgery-resultant complication, you might need to stay longer for proper follow up and post-op care. Plan your stay in advance; find out if your hospital is prepared to receive you for all the time of recovery required or if you need to book any other accommodation. In this case, try to choose a facility prepared for your post operative needs. 5) Be prepared for recovery. Recovery takes time. And during that time you will experience the normal post-op pain, bruising, swelling and other usual post-op less pleasant experiences. You will probably, especially on the first days, have trouble moving, trouble sleeping, get upset stomach, etc. … All this might be able to upset you and, in extreme but not unusual cases, get you slightly depressed, confused and lead to have regretful thoughts about your surgery.  In fact, some plastic surgeons call this condition “the Third-Day Blues.” It may last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. This emotional let down may be caused by stress, exhaustion, metabolic changes, or the frustration of waiting for results to appear. That is tough, but normal. All those mixed feelings will go away with the bruising and the swelling, when you start to appreciate the results of your surgery, so keep calm and…have lots of patience. If you’re doing your surgery abroad: Bring a member of family or friend to accompany you during this time. The post-operative moment can be quite stressful and depressive, especially if you are alone in a foreign country. Also, if you can, tour around. Almost everybody appreciates visiting new countries after all. New discoveries always promote a happier mood – it’s called “Health Tourism” after all! 6) Be prepared for complications. As if recovery wasn’t tough enough, there can be… post-op complications. Any medical or surgical procedure can result in complications. The body is a living system that reacts to external stimuli. A surgery is an invasive procedure and, although certified doctors use all the resources available in latest medicine knowledge to prevent them, they can still occur. Know the risks and discuss them thoroughly with your surgeon and then, be prepared for the moment it happens to you. Most complications are treatable with no further consequences and the more careful you are in following your surgeon’s instructions, the most likely they are to be resolved properly. If you’re doing your surgery abroad: To discuss previous the surgery with your surgeon: what doctor will care for you at home if you have complications and who will pay for a secondary or revision procedures and travel expenses? Some medical entities have agreements and partners in several countries to guarantee that the patient can be assisted in case of complications after the normal recovery period abroad. Anyway, be prepared to budget as many necessary follow up trips as required and depending on the procedure you may consider having your own follow up care with your local GP. If you do, it is important that you have a good and reliable GP in place and you tell your GP that you are going abroad for treatment. But always! Stay in touch with your surgeon and follow he’s instructions in case anything goes wrong. 7) Make sure you can pay. Get the quotations for your procedures previously the surgery day and ensure that there are no “hidden” expenses or service taxes. Count on medication, garments and any extra dressings necessary. If you are not financially prepared for your surgery, maybe consider holding it until you have enough “ground” and definitely don’t  choose your procedures, doctors or facilities solely on the “price factor”, disregarding quality. Good professionals and quality surgical products are of high importance for your safety and the result of your procedure. If it’s cheap and looks dodgy… well, enough said here. Optionally you can consider getting financing for your medical expenses. Specialized financial entities provide credit specifically for health related needs. One of this companies is MacCredit: http://www.maccredit.com.au/. The page www.financing-plastic-surgery.com also presents a list of financing options: https://www.financing-plastic-surgery.com/financing-companies.cfm If you’re doing your surgery abroad: Ensure your finances are in order before you leave. To the costs referred above add flights (or other transportation) and accommodation expenses. Also inform yourself on the average exchange rate. No point in flying to other country and find out there that you can’t go ahead with your procedures because you were not properly informed of prices or you didn’t consider the correct exchange rate. If you are paying on bank card, be sure your bank knows where and when you are going abroad. Don’t take risks with debit cards, ideally take a credit card so you are covered if your cards are cloned or stolen. It is also not a good idea to carry large sums of cash. The safest way to make your payment, may actually be to make an electronic transfer to the medical centre/hospital before you leave. And don’t forget to plan for possible extra time in stay and eventual needed changes in your flights. Also, if your procedure has insurance coverage, make sure that the insurance is valid for procedures done outside your home country (most health insurance providers do not cover individuals for surgery performed outside their own country). Consider obtaining international medical coverage that may be available through your insurance agent. Extra Tip For the Health Tourist Planning for your surgery abroad requires a lot of time and energy. It can be a long process between researching the procedure, finding out the right hospitals and surgeons, tracking other patients who went through the same procedure you are interested in and contacting a foreign doctor for advice. If you don’t have the time or the resources for all this, there’s the option of relying on Medial Tourism Agencies.These agencies have a panel of referenced, trusted surgeons in other countries and can facilitate to get you in contact with the doctors and their previous patients. Most of them promote “get togethers” between people looking to do surgery and patients who have previously had procedures for exchange of information. They also offer packages of full service, from booking your trip, accommodation and transfers, to having a care provider at the surgery location for your day-to-day support. Here we leave you some examples of this Medical Tourism Agents. Have a safe surgery! www.­gorgeousgetaways­.­com http://www.novasans.com/ http://www.somniomedical.com/ http://www.beautiful-holidays.com http://nuyuescapes.com/

Enjoy your Health Getaway! Have a question? Ask Here