With the promise of cheaper rates and a luxury recovery, traveling abroad for cosmetic surgery is becoming an increasingly popular option for Australians seeking immediate results. But it comes with strong warnings from the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

Research from Sydney’s University of Technology estimates that up to 15,000 Australians travel overseas for cosmetic surgery each year, spending a combined total of about $300 million. But it seems the trend carries significant risk. The Australian National News published a story just last month which described the parallel rise in the number of patients returning from overseas with complications related to ‘botched’ plastic surgeries, and the number of revision surgeries being performed on Australian shores.

The most common types of corrective treatments being performed are related to complications with breast surgeries (augmentation, lift and reduction), facial surgeries (rhinoplasty, facelift and browlift) and body contouring surgeries (abdomiplasty and armlifts).

Popular destinations for cosmetic tourism are Thailand and Malaysia, where non-regulated agents organise package tours which bundle surgical treatments with a holiday. If you are considering travelling abroad for cost saving reasons, we have put together a list of issues to consider so that you can make an informed decision.

1. Standards of Surgeons Training

While there are some very well trained surgeons outside of Australia, because other countries have their own educational standards and certification systems, it is not always easy to determine their level of experience. In Australia experienced plastic surgeons are all members of ASPS. When considering a particular plastic surgeon you should always ask what training and qualifications they have and ask to see their previous work.

2. Clinic Standards

Australian private hospitals and clinics are highly regulated by government health departments to ensure facilities are of the highest standard. Patients report that some clinics abroad are clean and of very high standard whilst others are not.

3. Minimal Aftercare

No cosmetic surgery procedure is free from risk or potential for complication. If you travel abroad for surgery you do not have the opportunity to be offered the necessary after care in the months following your procedure. When you under-go any surgical procedure in Australia, you will generally have 4 – 5 follow up appointments to ensure your recovery is progressing well and your results are what yourself and your surgeons agreed upon.

Any potential cost savings that might arise from travelling abroad should be considered in relation to the potential for the need for corrections in Australia or the cost of returning to the overseas clinic for revisions.

4. Surgery is Not a Walk in the Park

Whilst the idea of bundling painful surgeries with a luxury holiday seems like an appealing offer, you should be aware that after any surgical procedure you will not be able to carry out regular holiday activities. You will be advised to rest avoid activities like sun baking, drinking alcohol or swimming.

5. Travel Risk

Flying soon after an operation carries significant risks – including developing deep vein thrombosis or a pulmonary embolism. The appropriate wait times before air travel is around five to seven days after procedures such as breast surgery and liposuction, and seven to 10 days after facial cosmetic procedures or tummy tuck.

Silkwood surgeon Dr Warwick Nettle has seen his fair share of disaster cases from people returning from overseas with surgery complications. His advice is to not be lured by biased testimonials and reduced costs. Find a local surgeon with a great reputation who you know will take care of you should you have any issues post-op.  

Visit our website to learn more about the procedures we offer or call us on (02) 9387 3900 to discuss any concerns you have with one of our staff.