Robert M. Wald, Jr., MD - The Aesthetic Institute
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Category: Medical Tourism

Is Medical Tourism Worth It?

5 Minute Read: 

Two doctors in surgery


Medical tourism, also known as health tourism, is becoming more and more common. Many people decide to travel and have medical treatments done in other countries, from a tummy tuck to organ transplants. They are seeking surgery at lower costs or a specific procedure they are unable to have in their home country. Even though this whole process might be appealing for various reasons, it has many potential risks, and some are very serious. Therefore, you may wonder – Is medical tourism worth it? Read this article to find out.

What Drives People to Have Surgery Abroad?

  • Lower costs – Medical and surgical care overseas is often cheaper than in the USA. That’s mainly because the cost of labor is (sometimes drastically) lower in foreign countries. If someone needs a procedure that is not covered by insurance, such as plastic surgery, or if someone doesn’t have insurance at all, the savings can be significant.
  • Insurance incentives and discounts – Some insurance companies promote medical tourism. It’s also because of savings – both for the insurer and for the insured.
  • Exotic vacations – Health tourism often implies exotic vacation overseas – before or after surgery. This became an inexpensive way to travel, especially if the insurance company is paying for the flight and the cost of staying is low. Recovering on a beach or at a beautiful location may sound like a wonderful idea. But in reality, swimming and relaxing in the sun is hardly possible after most procedures.
  • Bypassing rules and regulations – The USA has many healthcare regulations that protect patients from harm. However, some people will do anything to avoid regulations set by their government, insurance company, or hospital.
  • Talented surgeons – Surgeons in certain countries are known for their talent in specific areas. For example, Brazilian surgeons are famous for their plastic surgery skills, while Thailand is often associated with people seeking gender reassignment.
Surgeons performing surgery

Sometimes, it’s easier to qualify for a certain procedure abroad, but there are many safety risks involved.

What’s the Catch?

The majority of people traveling overseas for plastic surgery are females, but men are also willing to go under the knife to achieve their dream look. Even though medical tourism may sound fantastic, there are many potential risks to consider.

Quality of Surgery

Medical care in a foreign country means different devices, injectables, and techniques than those in the USA. As teams from Sky Moving can confirm, the US is one of the countries where people are most eager to move to. Its prosperity and high-quality health care are the main reasons for it.

It is hard to obtain information about foreign physicians and the quality of their work from afar. A foreign physician should be trained and board-certified in the specific area of medicine appropriate for a particular procedure.

An operating room with medical staff

The USA has one of the best health care systems in the world.

Quality of Staff and Facility

The well-trained nursing staff is an integral part of healthcare. They often identify a potential problem and fix it before it becomes a real issue. On the other hand, poorly trained nursing staff may not recognize a problem until it is too late.

The facility where the surgery will be performed is another essential factor to consider. Foreign facilities may be dirty, with old equipment, outdated technology, and minimal resources. Furthermore, surgeries in foreign countries are sometimes performed in an isolated facility far away from a major hospital, without access to a higher level of medical care.

Flying Home Right After Surgery Is Risky

Every patient should know that after every major surgery, there’s a risk of blood clots. Long-haul flights can increase that risk, and clots can lead to death or stroke. So, flying home immediately after surgery is very risky. Patients should wait at least one week to decrease the chances of developing any serious complications during the flight.

Food in Foreign Hospitals Is Different

A patient with a sensitive stomach should always think twice about having surgery abroad. The food in foreign hospitals may be very different from food at home. Water in some areas is also totally different, and it can upset the stomach easily. If the food and water cause diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting, your postoperative period can become very hard.

Difficulties With Follow-Up Care

Keep in mind that many physicians and surgeons are hesitant to take care of a patient who received medical care outside the country. They may have concerns about the quality of procedures and care provided overseas. So, finding a doctor that’s willing to treat you may become an issue.

Many American plastic surgeons spend countless hours repairing the scars and disfiguring damage done by a poorly trained foreign surgeon. Unfortunately, many individuals suffer serious infections or permanent harm.

A worried man sitting on a couch

Arranging for follow-up care after a surgery done in a foreign country may be difficult.

Moving to a Smaller Home as a Way to Save Money for Quality Medical Care

Many people would rather have a medical procedure in their home country and avoid all the risks that come with overseas surgery. But, they struggle with finances. One way to improve your finances is finding a smaller space to move to and live a much simpler life while cutting your costs dramatically. Moving into a smaller home means you’ll spend less time on regular home maintenance, and you’ll pay less for utilities each month. Cutting your costs will help you save for a medical procedure or anything else you wish or need.

The Bottom Line

In the USA, each board-certified surgeon needs to follow the highest clinical standards, with many pharmaceutical and medical laws in place. Even though these standards increase the costs of health care, they also improve safety. So, is medical tourism worth it? We hope you agree that your body and life are much more important than financial savings or exotic vacations overseas.

Dr. Wald Looks forward to
helping you reach your
cosmetic goals.
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Robert Wald, MD
100 E. Valencia Mesa Drive, Suite 300
Fullerton, CA 92835

Phone: 714-312-3549
Fax: 714-738-1862

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