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.