Dr. Justin West
Director of plastic and reconstructive surgery and certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery
Orange County, Calif.
Fixes per year: 1 to 2
What Needs Fixing. The most common issue I deal with is patients who are unhappy with their breast surgery. I see patients whose implants were not placed properly, leading to an abnormal breast shape. I have also seen patients who have very poor scarring after breast lifts because the surgeons used big stitches on the outside of the breast—something most plastic surgeons in the United States would not do.
Risk Assessment. Many of the problems that I fix are also issues I have to address with surgery performed in the United States. However, there does seem to be a trend of surgeons outside the United States using more rudimentary techniques, which result in patients having revision surgery that they might otherwise not need.
Misconceptions. The biggest misconception is that you can travel to a foreign country for a few days, save money on your surgery, and come home with a great result. The fact is that there is a recovery period.
In my practice, patients are seen one day, one week, one month, and three months after surgery. This is time for the doctor to assess them and make sure everything is progressing normally. It’s also the time for patients to ask the surgeon questions. This is possible over the phone, but the fact is you get more information when the surgeon is in front of you doing a live assessment.
People also forget that complications are part of surgery. Once you leave that foreign country to come back to the United States, who is going to manage your infection, wound-healing problems, or implants that drop, get hard, or rupture.
Frequently other minor revisions need to be performed in the office to improve upon the result. These issues are generally covered when your own surgeon does it. But for the patient who had surgery done outside the United States, that would mean flying back and forth.
The cost of any kind of real follow-up could easily match or exceed care in the United States. For patients who decide to find a U. S. doctor to fix any issues, they are going to be charged for this service—again adding to their bottom line.
Dr. Anthony Youn
Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, and a member of both the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery
Metro Detroit, Mich.
Fixes per year: 25
What Needs Fixing. There are all sorts of problems. Recently, I removed a pair of implants that were placed in Argentina. The implants were part of a major recall after it was determined that the silicone inside them was industrial-grade, not medical-grade. I’ve seen many botched liposuction surgeries, botched tummy tucks, and poor facelifts. I probably see the most problems with liposuction patients.
Risk Assessment. Unfortunately, plastic surgery is performed poorly in all countries, but the United States has some of the strictest standards for plastic surgery training in the world.
Misconceptions. These patients think that they are getting a good value. Just because the cost of the actual surgery is lower, they don’t necessarily appreciate the added costs of fixing a bad result. Also, if they get a complication, do they want to be treated in another country? Do they trust the health care system in the other country?
Keep in mind that your U. S. health insurance will likely not pay for a hospital stay or complication in another country. There is nothing worse than being horribly sick and hospitalized in another country and finding out that you will need to pay out-of-pocket for all your health care there.