Guidelines for Plastic Surgery Abroad: Part 2

Guidelines for Plastic Surgery Abroad: Part 2
A woman with an airplane planning plastic surgery overseas

Now that we’ve gotten the choosing a qualified overseas plastic surgeon out of the way, let’s move on to some of the other variables that will need to be considered when you’re deciding whether or not having a cosmetic procedure overseas. And let’s start with what is likely a major factor for most people considering cosmetic surgery abroad


With healthcare in the U.S. continuing to rise, an increasing number of Americans are considering having elective and cosmetic surgeries overseas. Since no one country has a lock on excellent plastic surgeons, that’s great. What isn’t great is that some of these overseas surgeries come with the same hidden fees and associated costs that would come with a procedure here in the U.S.—sometimes even more, because, ya’ know, travel ain’t cheap. So let’s unpack some of the other expenses you’ll need to factor in when you’re trying to sort out the total price tag of your overseas surgical procedure.

What does the upfront price include and what additional costs need to be considered?

Make sure you understand clearly what the upfront price includes and what additional fees you may be responsible for post-surgery. Try to avoid any surprise charges by asking if you’ll also be responsible for:

  • additional surgeon’s fees
  • anesthesia fees
  • other surgical necessities (ex. breast implants, compression garments)
  • lab work
  • any medications
  • pre- and post-op consultations
  • additional facility fees.

Is post-operative and recovery care included in the cost of the surgery?

I know after-surgical care seems like a no-brainer, but there are instances where your care post-surgery will be considered an additional cost. Clarifying what’s included pre- and post-procedure will help you calculate your the final price tag.

Who is financially responsible for any secondary or revisionary procedures?

If you need any additional procedures to achieve optimal results or need to have an additional procedure to fix something that’s less than what you were hoping for, make sure you clarify upfront who will be responsible to foot that bill.

What travel costs will need to be considered?

Of course you’ll need to factor in the cost of airfare, land travel and accommodation when you’re calculating the total price tag for your procedure, including any expenses necessary for a trip prior to having surgery in order to facilitate an in-person consultation with your surgeon and a visit to the surgical facility. But there are other expenses involved with being away from home that you’ll need to consider:

  • air travel
  • car rental and other land travel
  • accommodations
  • food costs
  • additional costs of a possible extended stay abroad
  • any time you need to take off from work
  • any unanticipated expenses should complications occur

Location, location, location.

Where you’re planning to have your procedure is just as important as the other variables we’ve covered. Most countries have a medical standard of care that may or may not be different than in the U.S. and you’ll want to understand what that standard of care is, but there are also other considerations in regards to location.

What are the local standards and credential requirements of anesthesia and nursing care?

It’s important to understand exactly what regulations, training and credentials overseas medical providers, facilities and staff are required to adhere to. That includes your nursing staff and anesthesia team. Since it may be different than in the U.S., make sure you understand those differences and manage your expectations accordingly.

Is there an acute care hospital nearby if complications should occur?

No one wants to consider the worst case scenario, but refusing to considering the risks involved with any surgical procedure could be even worse. You’ll want to know that an acute care hospital is nearby, should complications occur.

The L Word: laws and liability.

It’s a dry topic, we know. But it’s important to understand the laws and liabilities associated with surgical procedures and medical care in the country that you’re considering having your procedure in.

Do you understand the details of liability law and other related regulations in the country where you plan to have your procedure? Be sure to ask the following prior to making any decisions:

  • What are the local laws regarding medical malpractice?
  • What liability coverage does the physician hold?
  • Are you or is your surgeon willing to pay for additional complication insurance to help cover costs in the event that something goes wrong or corrective procedures are necessary?
  • Should you find that your surgeon has been negligent, what recourse will you as the patient have?

Understanding surgery-related travel risks:

Hand in hand with the risks associated with any surgical procedure, come a specific set of risks associated with travel which need to be considered before you book your flight.

What are the risks associated with long flights and additional land travel both pre- and post surgery?

Two risks most commonly associated with long air flights are deep vein thrombosis (a blood clot in the legs) and/ or pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in the lungs), both of which can be heightened when paired with a surgical procedure. Make sure you clarify with your surgeon how these might affect you.

  • Will heightened travel risks have any impact on the recovery and success of my surgery?
  • Will I need to have an extended stay at my surgical destination to decrease the risk of post-surgical deep vein thrombosis (DVT) prior to getting on my return flight home?

So there it is, our long-winded, 2-part rant into some of the variables that need to be considered in order to safely and successfully plan a cosmetic procedure or surgery abroad. While it’s likely the tip of the iceberg and will lead you to a slew of other questions, it’s a good place to start. Now don’t you have some research to do?