Overseas Cosmetic Surgery Holidays (OCSH) -A Good Thing or Bad?

We increasingly live in a global economy in all aspects of our lives and this seems set to increasingly include medical and dental services that prove comparatively expensive here in Australia.

“Economic globalization” refers to increasing economic interdependence of national economies across the world through a rapid increase in cross-border movement of goods, service, technology and capital (Joshi, Rakesh Mohan, (2009) International Business, Oxford University Press, New Delhi and New York)

For invasive cosmetic procedures (eg: Face lifts, Tummy Tucks, Breast Enhancement) the local service/product can be very expensive indeed compared to some Asian countries. Increasing numbers of patients are now opting to travel for these services in Asia.

I recently saw a patient who had travelled to Thailand for facelift surgery. The outcome was of a high standard and the patient was very pleased with the experience. The cost of the whole exercise was less than a third of the $26,000 quote she had initially received from a local plastic surgeon!

So is the concept of OCSH a good idea? If the surgeon and the anaesthetist are highly competent and if the hospital facility and care is of a high standard, then the patient is entitled to ask “why not”?  However these are big “ifs” to consider, so prospective patients had better research these matters diligently.  Although there appears to be plenty of well trained and very affordable  surgeons in Asia, what readily comes to mind is the risk of complications occurring after returning home. Understandably very few local Australian surgeons are well disposed to the idea of managing the complications of an overseas surgeon’s work. By way of example some time ago a patient of mine had breast implant surgery in South America that became badly infected shortly after returning in Australia.
The costs associated with management of this complication included further surgery back here that was far more expensive than the original surgery.
Nevertheless the OCSH trend will be interesting to observe over the next few years.
Interestingly the cost differential for minimally invasive procedures performed here and overseas is low.
There is very little incentive for patients to travel for an OCSH experience for minimally invasive in-clinic cosmetic work.Yet another reason that this will be the trend for cosmetic practice here in Australia.  Patients remain delighted by the opportunity to have the procedures that we perform “in-house” under local anaesthesia generally associated with minimal risk, minimal downtime and very natural outcomes (and home is only  drive away).