Cosmetic surgery abroad: the risks of interventions abroad explained by an expert


An expert has warned that it is ‘not easy’ to know if a plastic surgeon abroad is fully trained

The popularity of traveling abroad for cosmetic surgery has grown over the past few years.

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The popularity of going abroad for cosmetic surgery has grown in recent years

But how safe is cosmetic surgery abroad? Here’s what you need to know.

What are the risks of cosmetic surgery abroad?

Ruth Waters, consultant plastic surgeon and president of the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS), told NationalWorld that no procedure is without risk and complications after cosmetic surgery can occur in the UK or abroad.

However, she said that if you choose to have cosmetic surgery in the UK, the surgeon who performed the operation will provide you with all the necessary care.

Therefore, if something goes wrong, either a complication occurs or the outcome of the procedure is “unfavourable”, the surgeon will be on hand to discuss it with you and decide how the problem can be resolved.

But, Ms Waters said this insurance “cannot be easily provided when you are traveling abroad for cosmetic surgery”.

“Some overseas clinics won’t have anyone in the UK to turn to if you have a problem and for many it’s a nurse or GP, not a trained specialist,” he said. -she adds.

Any potential cost savings that might arise from traveling abroad should therefore be weighed against this and taken into account. Other factors must also be taken into account, such as the need to take time off from work and the cost of a possible return to the clinic abroad for corrections.

Air travel and major surgeries also increase the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism after surgery, so flying shortly before or after an operation abroad combines these risks, Ms Waters said.

Although there are very well trained surgeons outside the UK this can be difficult to verify, whereas in the UK fully qualified plastic surgeons will be on the General Medical Council’s specialist register for surgery plastic.

However, other countries use different systems and due to differences in standards and qualifications “it’s not easy to tell if a foreign surgeon is a fully trained plastic surgeon,” Ms Waters added.

“You should always ask a surgeon what their training and qualifications are and what organizations they belong to. No respectable surgeon will care in the least about it,” she said.

How many people were affected by a botched operation?

The recent warnings come after the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) called for action in April after an audit found a 44% increase in botched cosmetic surgery overseas.

The BAAPS audit showed that 324 patients required surgery after returning to the UK over the past four years.

The annual number rose 44% in 2021 from the previous year, a time when people were advised against elective surgery and unnecessary travel due to the Covid pandemic.

In 2021, 75 women and 7 men were treated for complications, some with life-threatening issues such as the need for emergency surgical removal of dead skin tissue and admission to intensive care for maintenance of skin tone. life following a systemic infection.

“These complications, despite treatment, would still leave life-altering permanent physical deformities as well as the psychological effects of these injuries,” BAAPS said.

A survey of BAAPS board members showed that 100% of complications came from Turkey and that abdominoplasty – also known as “abdominoplasty” – accounted for 75% of complications, followed by breast surgery procedures at 25 %.

At the time, Mary O’Brien, president of BAAPS, said: “When patients go abroad for cosmetic surgery, they usually have no knowledge of the skill and experience of the surgeon, and there are very few prospects for follow-up care and advice.

“Best practice is compromised by the fact that patients only meet their surgeon immediately before a procedure – by which time they typically commit and have paid for the operation.”

She said patients then returned to the UK ‘without adequate medical records, if any’, with post-surgery follow-up difficult.

“Complications arise and are usually left to the UK system to recover,” Ms O’Brien added.

“The surgeons involved in these schemes do not have work permits and are not registered in the UK, and there is unlikely to be the possibility of applying for revision surgery.”


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