Guidelines for Cosmetic Surgery Abroad

It is the Aesthetic Society’s view that there are excellent cosmetic surgeons throughout the world. However, seeking surgery abroad requires an even greater level of knowledge and homework.

If you are thinking about having surgery overseas, consider establishing a relationship with a local board certified plastic surgeon before going on your trip. Then, if complications arise when you return home, a qualified surgeon will be familiar with your goals and procedures. You can also find International Aesthetic Society Members by entering a country or city in Select a Surgeon.

The following questions were created to help you through the process and should be answered before boarding the plane:

  • Unless you have met the surgeon on a prior visit, and have seen the surgery facility, how do you know that you will be comfortable with him or her, and feel secure in proceeding with surgery? Remember, a successful; doctor-patient relationship is based on confidence and trust, not on perceived savings and price. Make sure you are fully comfortable with the surgeon providing your care.
  • What are the risks of long flights and any additional land travel before and after surgery? Will travel have an impact on my surgical outcome? Will I have to stay longer at the tourist destination to decrease the risk of post-surgical deep vein thrombosis (DVT) before I get on a plane?
  • Is there an increased risk of DVT in the legs, or pulmonary embolism (blood clots in the lungs) associated with long air travel before and after surgery?
  • What is the surgeon’s training?

Be sure that your physician has specific training in cosmetic surgery procedures through an accredited plastic surgery residency program and/or fellowship.

  • What specialty certification does the surgeon hold?
  • The International Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery ( ) is a good source for finding qualified cosmetic surgeons.
  • What happens if you develop complications?

Make sure you know who will care for you and who is financially responsible for secondary or revisional procedures. Before you leave home check with a local Board Certified Plastic Surgeon to see if they will be willing to provide post-op or revisional care if necessary.

  • If you feel the surgeon has been negligent, what recourse will you have?

Find out in advance what liability coverage the physician holds and what are the local laws regarding medical malpractice.

  • What are the local standards of anesthesia and nursing care? What credentials do these providers hold and what are the standards of the credentials?
  • Is there an acute care hospital nearby if complications should arise? Is it a fully licensed, modern facility?
  • What physician will care for you at home if complications arise?
  • What are the surgeon’s recommendations for aftercare? How long after your procedure will you need to stay in the area? Who will care for you in your initial recovery? What are the costs for this post-operative care?
  • Do the key personnel at the surgeon’s office and in the operating room speak fluent English?
  • Carefully consider the total costs involved with having surgery abroad, including the additional time off work required for travel and recovery, the costs of air travel and extended stays abroad, potential costs if surgery revisions are needed subsequently, and unanticipated expenses if complications occur.

Cosmetic surgery abroad can be a safe experience with excellent outcomes. However we strongly recommend that you do your homework in advance and be fully comfortable with the answers to the above questions before making any commitment of either time or money.