Dr. Phillip R. Craft
Board-certified plastic surgeon and member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons
Fixes per year: 60 to 70
What Needs Fixing. Patients usually come requesting a revision surgery to amend or correct the outcome of a procedure they had in another country: asymmetry after breast lift or augmentation, ruptured implants, scars corrected from a tummy-tuck procedure, and ripples or asymmetry following liposuction.
Risk Assessment. In general, these are common revisions sought by patients who’ve had procedures in the United States.
It’s not that the patient care is poor or lacking, but it doesn’t go as far as it should to give patients the best outcomes. … It’s more of a case of the quality of the products used or the depth of skill of the provider.
There are some cases, however, where the breast implant you are shown is merely a high-quality show-piece. You receive a lesser quality implant and have no idea.
A surgeon in a foreign country may offer breast augmentation for $1,000, but the procedure is done by a veterinarian or general practitioner who may have medical training, but not the proper credentials to perform plastic surgery.
Other cases reveal that some procedures may be done under local anesthesia when that is not the best option for the patient having this type of surgery.
Misconceptions. Common misconceptions include that the equality of the procedure, products, and facility are the same as in the United States; the training of the doctor and surgical staff are equivalent; and that your safety and well-being are a top priority.
Dr. Joseph W. Aguiar
Board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and Diplomate of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons
Fixes per year: 10 to 15
What Needs Fixing. The most common problems are infection, dead tissue, and inferior or incorrect products.
Risk Assessment. All of these problems can happen in the United States and abroad. These problems are seen more in surgeries abroad.
Misconceptions. Consumers often think that the surgery, surgeon, and facilities are all created equal. Many consumers feel that surgery costs less abroad due to less regulation. There are fewer regulations to deal with in some countries, but oftentimes, the most basic standards for care are not maintained.
Most patients report they would have preferred to recover in the comfort of their own home. Oftentimes, patients feel that recovering away from home was stressful.
Cosmetic surgery has become so commonplace in our culture that consumers have forgotten it should be taken seriously. These procedures are completely elective and can enhance one’s life. On the flip side, complications can ruin one’s life.
Dr. Matthew Schulman
Board-certified plastic surgeon
New York City
Fixes per year: 50
What Needs Fixing. Uneven liposuction, poorly placed tummy tuck scars, and uneven breast implants.
Risk Assessment. Unfortunately, these are the results of poor techniques and can occur in any country—as every country has bad surgeons. The other complications that are more specific to overseas surgeries can be more serious. These include infections from bacteria that we do not commonly see in this country.
These can be difficult to treat because we may not be easily able to identify the specific bacteria and we may not have the antibiotics to treat the infection. Some of these infections are so serious that they require surgical intervention to remove the infected tissue.
These complications are also difficult to treat because they present to us much later. It is common for a patient to have early signs of infection a few days after surgery, but the overseas doctors either ignored the signs or did not recognize the signs.
More importantly, patients typically travel home from overseas surgery about a week later, with no plans for additional medical care. They may develop a problem weeks later but do not see a doctor either because they have no money for proper follow-up care or simply have no idea that a serious problem is brewing. They often end up in our emergency rooms extremely sick and when it is too late to prevent a major complication.
Misconceptions. The common misconception is that patients will receive the exact same surgical results in another country, but for a fraction of the cost of a U. S. surgeon. It is true that the cost is usually one-fourth of the cost in this country, but it is not simply because of a lower cost of living as many claim.
It is cheaper because there is less oversight, fewer regulations, less-expensive equipment, and poor supplies, and there is no follow-up care.
Readers should be aware that the decision to have elective plastic surgery is much more than about cost. These are serious operations with potentially fatal complications. Yes, complications can occur anywhere, but when they occur overseas, treatment may be delayed, and a minor complication can become life-threatening.