Medical tourism: Is it worth it?

Medical tourism: Is it worth it?
Medical tourism: Is it worth it?

Americans like to cut cost corners at every bend, whether they're participating in extreme couponing or purchasing off-brand products to save a few dollars. While consumers can easily rationalize picking one cheaper item over another at the grocery store, some are more concerned with lower prices than they are about their own health.

Deciding to undergo plastic surgery requires an extreme commitment, both emotionally and monetarily. While not all operations cost an exorbitant amount of money, some patients have opted for traveling outside of the country to have their cosmetic procedures done at a fraction of the cost. As with any journey that takes place outside of the country, there are a number of risks associated with medical tourism that must be considered prior to surgery.

String of visitors infected abroad
Although there are several board-certified surgeons who perform abroad, operations that take place in foreign countries offer a myriad of unique health risks. Depending on the area, patients may be exposed to diseases, infections and chemicals that Americans' bodies may not be used to fighting.

NBC News recently reported that 19 women who visited the Dominican Republic in order to receive discount plastic surgery were infected during their procedures. According to the source, the women sought tummy tucks, liposuction or breast implants. Over the course of the past year, the women were affected by bacteria that rendered them with severe infections.

While this type of medical treatment abroad is legal, tourists should exercise extreme caution when considering surgery in a foreign country. The Latin Post added that while these operations may be cheaper, they open the doors for American tourists to contract diseases that may not be prevalent in their home region, such as tuberculosis and mosquito-borne illness. 

Selecting your plastic surgeon with caution
There are risks associated with surgery abroad, but patients can seek board-certified, well-equipped doctors whose facilities are prepared to serve tourists unaccustomed to the area. Much like selecting a surgeon in their home countries, people must conduct thorough research prior to visiting a doctor. One medical professional urged visitors who are seeking treatment abroad to be smart about their procedures, according to NBC News.

"CDC advises all persons planning to receive surgical care outside the United States to verify that the health care provider and facility they are considering using are licensed and accredited by an internationally recognized accreditation organization before proceeding," the professional said, as quoted by the source.

Patients should seek doctors who are part of surgical associations, such as the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery or the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, to conduct their procedures.