People who go overseas for cosmetic surgery are at risk of being left with disfigurement, disabilities, deformities or death due to botched procedures, Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons President, Dr Naveen Somia warns.
The warning comes after news from Colombia, the fourth most popular country in the world for patients to travel to seeking discounted cosmetic surgery, that patients were risking being disfigured, damage to organs and even death at the hands of unscrupulous people who were severely under-qualified performing invasive surgeries with fake surgical degrees.
More than 75,500 foreigners travelled to cities such as Bogotá, Cali and Medellín in 2016 to undergo cosmetic procedures, accounting for 15 per cent of the total number of surgeries carried out that year, according to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS).
Risk Of Overseas Surgical Procedures
What many patients fail to take seriously, is the lack of laws and regulations in foreign countries mean they can wind up in the hands of a general physician or even a dentist. That’s someone performing a serious, invasive surgical procedure without any formal training.
When people return from overseas with complications and realise they have no aftercare support, they turn to the public health system with taxpayers being left to foot the bill.
One of the commonest complications that we see after surgery overseas is sepsis, a life-threatening condition triggered by infection entering the bloodstream, horrific scarring and wounds that were never going to heal on their own. This is due to the fact that the microorganisms from overseas are different to what you will encounter in Australia or New Zealand, and since you as a patient haven’t developed an immunity to these microorganisms, the risk of infection is higher. Also, there are bacteria overseas that do not respond to any antibiotics and these are called drug-resistant bacteria.
Too often patients are lured by the cheap price combined with a stay in a fancy hotel and cocktails on the beach. But the old adage, if it seems too good to be true then it probably is, couldn’t be truer than for the cosmetic tourism industry.
Surgery On Home Soil Benefits
By having surgery performed in Australia or New Zealand, patients are afforded the protection that you would expect in a first-world country. In the hospitals here, we have impeccable surgical safety standards, state-of-art anaesthetic safety provided by Specialist Anaesthetists and the world-class plastic surgical expertise provided by Specialist Plastic Surgeons who are trained by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) and registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) as a Specialist in Plastic Surgery.
Patients should check out the AHPRA or the Medical Council of New Zealand’s websites to ensure the surgeon they are seeing is really a Specialist in Plastic Surgery.
I can empathise with people who wish to use plastic surgery to make a positive change to their appearance and cost being a major decision driver. But what people have to remember, is that every time you make a decision to have surgery in an environment that is compromised you risk disfigurement, disabilities, deformities or death.
The cost of fixing a complication is a lot more than getting it done well the first time, let alone the toll on your emotional health of having a botched procedure. The scarring that a patient can be left with as well is far from satisfactory when a Specialist Plastic Surgeon has had to go in and cut out all of the work left by the previous ‘surgeon’. None of which would have been the case if the patient had their surgery performed correctly in the first place by a Specialist Plastic Surgeon.
Don’t succumb to the sales pitch by companies that are geared towards making money. Your life is worth far more. And if it means putting your surgery off for a few months to ensure your safety, trust me, it will be worth the wait.