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Medical Surgery Tourism and Cosmetic Cowboys

  • Posted: Sunday 02 August, 2015

Caution is necessary for those considering travelling overseas for cosmetic or plastic surgery procedures or seeking surgery from surgeons without specialist surgical training.

“Cosmetic Cowboys”

60 Minutes Australia documentary about cosmetic surgeons operating without specialist surgical training. Most dangerous of all, these operations are being carried out using potentially toxic anaesthetic methods. Watch the full item at

Medical Surgery Tourism

Patients often say that cost is the main reason for choosing to travel overseas for cosmetic surgery. However, if there are complications with the surgery and revisions are needed, that initial cost can increase significantly. It is therefore important that patients assess all the risks involved before making an informed decision.

Cut- price Breast Implant Surgery dangers

Speaking at the New Zealand Association of Plastic Surgeons annual scientific meeting, New Zealand Institute of Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery founding co-director Janek Januszkiewicz  warned of the dangers of medical tourism trips to places like Thailand for cosmetic surgery. In some cases the resulting hospital bill is then picked up by the New Zealand taxpayer through ACC.

“We’re striving to get the best results through having highly trained surgeons, really good nursing staff and reputable implant manufacturers,” Mr Januszkiewicz said. “You can save yourself money but you don’t know what you’re getting, how long they are going to last and what they’re going to do to your body.”

Mr Januszkiewicz said women returning with infections, misshapen breasts and other issues led to the need for further surgeries. “One of our concerns now is managing the increasing number of problems we’re seeing from patients coming back from overseas with devastating circumstances.” (reported in the Otago Daily Times, 3rd August 2015).

Some of the questions patients should ask before making a decision are:

  • Is my surgeon a member of the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS)? This means they have some form of internationally recognised qualification
  • Have I got the right information and had enough time to give informed consent?
  • Has there been at least a week between appointments so that I have had adequate time to consider surgery and make an informed decision?
  • Are the medical standards of care and quality control requirements at least as good as those in Australia and New Zealand?
  • Have I been assured that the devices and products used in overseas hospitals meet Australian and New Zealand standards?
  • Have I got a plan for what I will do in the case of post-operative problems?
  • Did I actually see the surgeon, or was the initial ‘free’ visit with a nurse or administration person?
  • Did I get full, written financial details, including all out of pocket expenses for not only the surgeon, but also the anaesthetist, assistant and hospital theatre or facility costs?
  • Were the risks and complications explained to me?
  • What will happen if things go wrong? Will by surgeon accept liability?
  • Where will I be financially if things go wrong, what other costs do I need to consider?
  • Have I been told about post-operative care and what to do if complications arise after the surgery?

Post-operative care is vital to your recovery from surgery and should not be combined with a holiday. A qualified and accredited surgeon should offer their patients a high level of post-operative care.

The article Paradise Botched from NEXT magazine, July 2015, looks at the issue and talks to some women who have travelled overseas for surgery Paradise Botched – Cosmetic tourism – Next magazine July 2015.