In these tough economic times, it’s easy to understand the appeal of cosmetic tourism, but with lower prices come greater risks in clinics overseas. According to the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons, complications arising from botched cosmetic procedures have been on the rise in that country, with a 38 percent rise in the number of Australian cosmetic tourists seeking post-operative medical aid in the past 12 months.
Countries such as India, Malaysia, and Thailand are often touted as prime destinations for cheap plastic surgeries such as breast augmentation and liposuction. The dark side, however, is that long travel and foreign diseases present serious risks to vulnerable cosmetic tourists. As well, many overseas facilities are not staffed by fully qualified individuals, and may not offer the postoperative care that patients need. According to Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons president Rodney Cooter:
“Cosmetic surgery packages sold as holidays downplay the importance of the post-operative period… Any kind of major surgery, cosmetic or otherwise, requires a high level of post-operative care. That means rest and healing time to reduce the risk of complications.”
According to the Society, which conducted a survey among 81 of its members, 72 percent of these botched surgeries could not be corrected. Sixty-two percent of patients seeking help were found to have permanent disfigurements, and nearly half could have experienced life-threatening complications from their botched operations.
Roughly 500 Australians sought the help of an Australian plastic surgeon during 2011. More than two-thirds of the botched surgeries were breast-related, while another 15 percent were facial procedures. The average cost to attempt repairs was AU$5754, which is nearly US$6000.
It’s easy to forget that all cosmetic procedures, despite being performed daily by thousands of plastic surgeons across the world, pose significant risks. Cosmetic tourism adds to these risks with foreign germs, long flight times, and uncertain accreditations.
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