Guidelines for Plastic Surgery Tourists

The highest priority of the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS) is to promote patient safety. If you have chosen to travel to another country for aesthetic plastic surgery, we encourage you to do your research and collect the answers to the questions provided on this page. Choosing to have aesthetic or cosmetic plastic surgery abroad demands careful planning and decision making.

Aesthetic plastic surgery requires that you choose a highly trained and qualified plastic surgeon. If you plan to travel outside your home country for plastic surgery, select an ISAPS member.

1. Choose the Right Procedure

Does the procedure you are considering provide the improvements you want?

When establishing realistic expectations for plastic surgery, it is important to understand the improvements the procedure can provide. For example, you might be considering liposuction when a tummy tuck is necessary. Our procedures section provides overview pages for common aesthetic plastic surgery procedures.

Do you fully understand the procedure and possible complications?

Make sure you understand what the procedure entails in terms of scars, recovery time and risks.

Are you a good candidate for the procedure you are considering?

Talk with the surgeon about your expected outcome to make sure that it is reasonable. It is also important for your surgeon to conduct a medical screening to determine whether you are at risk for complications.

2. Choose Your Surgeon Carefully

What is the surgeon’s training?

Verify that the surgeon is trained and experienced in performing the procedure you are considering. Choosing a gynecologist for a breast augmentation or a dermatologist for a face lift may be a risky decision.

Is the plastic surgeon certified?

In order to become a member of ISAPS, surgeons must be accepted by the national plastic surgery society in the country in which they currently practice. Use our find a surgeon ISAPS member locator to obtain the names and addresses of over 2,400 certified plastic surgeons in 94 countries.

Is the surgeon a member of recognized national and international plastic surgery societies?

ISAPS membership ensures both. ISAPS is the largest international society of individual plastic surgeons. Membership is by invitation and is granted to applicants only after extensive screening. You have the right to know if the surgeon is a member of his/her national plastic surgery society, is a board-certified (or the equivalent in that country) plastic surgeon and is properly trained to perform the procedure you are considering.

Do the key personnel at the surgeon’s office speak your language fluently?

If you cannot be easily understood, be prepared for complications.

With whom are you communicating?

You should be talking directly with the doctor’s staff and the doctor. A travel agent should only make travel and lodging arrangements.

Have you checked the surgeon’s references?

Ask for names and contact information of patients who have recently had similar procedures and contact them about their experience with the surgeon, his/her staff, aftercare facilities and post-operative follow-up.

Do the surgeon and his/her facility use a safety checklist?

The World Health Organization (WHO) developed a 19-question surgical safety checklist that, when implemented, can reduce surgical complications and surgical deaths. This simple checklist, much like a pilot’s pre-flight checklist, can be used in a variety of surgical settings without additional costs. Ask if your surgeon uses the WHO checklist.

Is the plastic surgeon’s clinic or hospital accredited or certified?

Ask for certification information and the name of the certifying body when assessing a surgical setting. As regulations vary from country to country, choosing an accredited clinic or hospital means that the facility has passed a comprehensive evaluation and operates in accordance with patient safety standards.

3. Make a Plan

Does your personal health insurance cover you outside your country?

Most health insurance providers do not cover individuals for surgery performed outside their own country. With the rise in medical tourism, international medical coverage is becoming more common. Ask if coverage is available through your insurance agent.

Where will you stay while you recover?

Patients should stay in the area where the surgery was performed for at least one week, depending on the procedure. Traveling too soon after surgery increases the risk of pulmonary embolism and blood clots. Find out in advance where you will stay and if this facility is prepared to care for your post-operative needs.

What about complications and follow-up care?

Even when surgery is properly performed, complications are a possibility. What doctor will care for you when you return home if you have complications? Who will pay for secondary or revision procedures?

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