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Medical Tourism and Cosmetic Surgery

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Botox Has Many Uses

Botox can be used to restore form due to injury.

The term “cosmetic surgery” is the politically correct form of what most people know as plastic surgery. While cosmetic surgeries, such as nose jobs, breast enhancement, or liposuction are commonly discussed, the fact is that most plastic surgery is not cosmetic. Rather, it focuses on the restoration of form and function. Examples of this include the treatment of burns, hand surgery to restore the use of digits, and various forms of reconstructive surgery.

That said, there are marked differences in the various forms of plastic surgeries available around the world. Often, this prompts consumers to look abroad in order to save on a procedure. While there certainly are times when this may be beneficial, in practice it is often anything but. This has to do with a great many factors, but chief among them are safety and regulation. Obviously saving a few thousand dollars sounds like a great idea, but the associated risks often far outweigh the benefits. The risks inherent to these procedures in developed nations increase considerably the farther one goes from developed and regulated practices.

Beauty Is What?

Beauty is individual, and more than a simple operation.

For example, the United States is the top country in the world for plastic surgery, yet there vast differences within the U.S. in the regulations and requirements doctors need to follow. In fact, only 20 states require strict regulation (source: CBS), and much of that was only instituted following gross negligence in unregulated states. Popular medical tourism destinations such as India are even worse, have virtually nonexistent regulatory bodies in some areas. This makes medical tourism very much a hit or miss proposition. The thing is, there are a lot of people getting procedures done around the world, but they aren’t getting them done in the places medical tourism advertisers would have you believe.

One such example is the United Kingdom, boasting one of the most regulated and transparent cosmetic surgery certification and licensing standards in the world. It’s known as the General Medical Council (GMC) and provides services that let patients easily view and check information and license details on doctors. This is in addition to the high standards medical practitioners are held to throughout the UK.

The importance of these high standards simply can’t be overstated when looking for plastic surgery. To quote Dr. Nazim Mahmood, from Face Clinic in London, “Almost any cosmetic surgeon will tell you that you get what you pay for, but I like to think that you get a little more in the UK. We have one of the most well regulated cosmetic surgery standards in the world, and the care regimens available to patients here are unmatched.” With his clinic also featured in The Independent, he’s not just making small talk. Face Clinic is part of a growing community of professionals in the UK that are redefining medical standards in cosmetic surgery.

Low Cost Options

Marketer or surgeon – can you live with the savings?

The same can’t be said for facilities in third world countries, no matter how enticing their marketing or rates may appear. Even the best facilities are limited by their location. What might be paradise to a vacationer can quickly spiral into unmanageable inconvenience or worse for the medical tourist, as many have discovered. According to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), any planned procedures should be discussed with a doctor at home, but there is also a lengthy list of other things to consider and do. Not only that, there are other limitations, such as unregulated pharmaceuticals and unreliable infrastructure. Just ask anyone who has experienced unreliable transportation to or from emergency facilities in places where street taxis are regularly used in lieu of ambulances.

Before risking medical tourism in the third world, take a long hard look at the standards set in other countries, and ask yourself if you’re willing to risk a lifetime of disfigurement to save a few bucks. A savings of $3,000 works out to $100 a year over 30 years. Are you willing to risk that? In almost every case there are safer and better alternatives to medical tourism. Most people just get tricked into the great vacation options by marketers, when what they should be focused on is the access to medical care, regulation, and medicines available – from licensed and regulated surgeons. If you’re considering medical tourism, do yourself a favor, and do your homework. You might find that something closer to home is a safer and ultimately more affordable alternative.

Featured Image: Plastic People
Article Images: Botox, Beauty, Oops

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About Henry Buell

A world traveled analyst, Henry has lived through political upheaval, revolutions, and war. He writes from a different perspective, with a passion for life, tempered by experience. More information can be found on Henry Buell's website.