Travelling Abroad For Cosmetic Surgery
There’s not actually much official information about how many Brits are seeking cosmetic surgery abroad each year. In 2008, the International Passenger Survey (IPS) discovered that around 52,500 people were travelling outside the UK for medical treatment; and of those, approximately 28% were for cosmetic surgery.
Saving Money by Booking Treatment Abroad
A Which? Survey revealed that cost was the main reason that people were choosing to book their cosmetic treatments overseas.
Linda Whyborn, a 57 year old who travelled to Budapest for a face-lift, commented that her daughter’s mother-in-law ‘spent £6,500 on a face-lift in the UK.’ In contrast, Whyborn ‘spent less than £5,000 and was able to have a full face-lift, my eyes lifted and my jowls and neck done.’
The Advantages of Having Cosmetic Surgery Overseas
There are a number of benefits to booking your cosmetic treatment abroad. Although cost is the major factor for most people, there are also other advantages. These include:
While it’s important to check the credentials of any surgeon you use, both in the UK and abroad, there are many excellent cosmetic practitioners in countries overseas. Additionally, some choose to be registered with the GMC to prove their quality of service, which provides additional peace of mind.
Some patients choose to combine their surgery with a holiday, which provides the opportunity to explore new surroundings before having the treatment.
Some overseas clinics are actually based in the UK, which is a distinct advantage should anything go wrong after the treatment.
The Risks Involved
Whilst you may save a lot of money booking cosmetic surgery abroad, there are risks involved with doing so, and it’s important to be aware of them before committing to the treatment. The main risks are:
It’s just as important to check the credentials of your surgeon abroad as it is to do so in the UK. There are many excellent plastic surgeons in countries all over the world, but there are equally some unscrupulous practitioners who are not properly qualified for the job. Each country will be governed by different regulations. You can find out more about the specific country you’re considering booking treatment in by visiting the Health Regulation Worldwide website.
Most insurance companies will not cover you for cosmetic treatment abroad, unless it’s identified as medically necessary. Discuss your intentions with your insurer and find out exactly what your policy does and doesn’t cover.
Many clinics and cosmetic hospitals have English-speaking staff. This is really important, as you will need to ask many questions before committing to treatment, and it’s vital that you understand the process completely. If you’re struggling to communicate with the surgeon or his team, this could cause significant problems in the future.
If your cosmetic surgery is a success, then going abroad for treatment should pose no problems in terms of recovery. However, if you encounter any problems afterwards, getting back to another country is a lot harder than simply visiting your surgeon in the UK.
Remember, when working out the cost difference between the UK and your country of choice, you may also need to factor in additional costs, such as flights and accommodation.
Flying home after surgery puts you at an increased risk of developing deep vein thrombosis or having a pulmonary embolism. It’s important that you take precautions to avoid this, such as investing in a pair of DVT stockings.
Questions to Ask
When you book your initial consultation with the surgeon, whether abroad or at their UK premises, it’s important to ask the right questions, to ensure you fully understand the procedure.
Here are some important questions to ask:What are the surgeon’s qualifications?
These may be different to UK surgeons, so make sure you take the time to find out exactly how many years training they’ve had and what their specialist areas are.
What happens if there’s a problem afterwards? Do they have a UK-based clinic that will be able to help you with any health problems after the treatment? If not, will you be required to fly back to the country to be seen? And if this is the case, will you be required to pay for additional treatment to rectify the problem?
What’s included in your cost? Does the quoted amount just cover the procedure itself and are there any extra costs involved? Will you need to pay for accommodation or additional medication?
What advice do they have regarding aftercare? Does your surgeon recommend that you stay near the clinic or hospital for a certain period of time afterwards, to ensure that the procedure was a success? If you’re flying home, will you need to take any extra precautions, such as wearing stockings to prevent DVT?