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Cosmetic surgery may not be a good reason to travel outside the U.S.

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Reflections for laser liposuction.
Reflections for laser liposuction.

Perhaps one of the most important things a person should consider when planning a cosmetic procedure is finding a trusted, accredited professional. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has strict regulations and approval processes for medical spas, products and devices to minimize the chances of a complication.

While the promise of Botox injections or laser liposuction done at a low price may seem like a good excuse to book a flight to a foreign country, this may put patients at risk for an infection or a botched procedure because some regions aren’t as vigilant as the U.S. in regulating the professionals and equipment used in healthcare.

A recent study conducted at Nassau University Medical Center in New York revealed that American plastic surgeons are observing an uptick in the number of individuals seeking corrective procedures for a surgery they had abroad.

“Medical tourism patients are often lured by the apparent lower cost of surgery elsewhere or by the availability of procedures that are not approved here in the U.S.,” said co-author Kaveh Alizadeh, M.D., M.Sc., FACS.

Authors of the study obtained survey responses from 368 plastic surgeons in the U.S. and found that about 80 percent reported having experience treating a patient who had a botched procedure in a foreign country, mostly stemming from breast augmentation or body contouring. Additionally, about half of the respondents said the number of people seeking corrective procedures from these operations has increased in recent years.

Moreover, corrections can require multiple appointments and turn out to be quite expensive.

“When patients return to the U.S., it can become a costly scenario if they develop complications and the procedure or patient is not covered by medical insurance,” said Alizadeh.

The most common complication that the surgeons observed was infection, amounting to about 31 percent of reported problems. Additionally, patients experienced open wounds stemming from poorly done stitches, contour abnormality and severe bruising.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) reports that the most popular destinations for plastic surgery are Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, Poland, South Africa and Thailand.

The ASPS recommends doing research on the potential risks of a cosmetic procedure and consulting a medical professional before scheduling an appointment.