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An Insight into Cosmetic Surgery Tourism


It’s estimated that around one third of people in the UK who elect to have cosmetic surgery travel abroad to get their procedures carried out*. Cosmetic surgery tourism is big business, but it’s also potentially dangerous.


Where are people going for cosmetic surgery?

The explosion in budget airline travel via companies such as Ryanair and Easyjet has not only made travelling abroad for a cheap holiday or stag/hen party possible, it has also made it easier for British people to consider the option of travelling abroad to undergo cosmetic surgery. Different countries attract patients seeking different specialisms. A recent Guardian article suggested that patients seeking weight-related treatment favour the Czech Republic, breast augmentation was most associated with Belgium, tummy tucks drew patients to Poland, while the Hungarian capital of Budapest was the biggest draw for patients seeking dental treatments.

Why are they travelling for surgery?

There are, of course, many possible benefits to travelling abroad to seek these procedures. Waiting lists are shorter than via the NHS in the UK and often the cost of treatment abroad can be cheaper than the cost of receiving the same treatment privately in the UK. That’s not telling the whole story though.

What are the potential issues arising from cosmetic surgery tourism?

One issue is that, after surgery, patients should often be resting and avoiding travel – particularly flying. While it may be feasible for patients to book themselves what seems to be a cost-effective trip abroad for surgery, the schedule you draw up for yourself may not include recovery time or, at least, enough recovery time. Travelling soon afterwards could increase the risk of complications arising from the procedure you’ve undergone.

Another issue is the ease of pre-surgery communication with the clinic you select. Are you prepared to travel over for a separate initial consultation first? If you’re trying to condense everything into one trip then you may rush your own decisions and the time you give yourself to ask questions. Before any surgical procedure you should be prepared to ask questions to fully satisfy yourself that the procedure is right for you, that you’re happy with the clinic and surgeon, and that you’re fully aware of the potential side-effects of and the recovery time associated with the procedure you wish to undergo.

What do the surgeons say?

Many people have positive and complication-free experiences of undergoing cosmetic surgery abroad, but problems and can arise. The British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons conducted a survey among their Plastic Surgeon members. 37% of those who responded said that they or a member of their team had seen patients who had presented with complications resulting from cosmetic procedures which had been performed outside of the UK. 60% of those surveyed believed that the number of patients seen by their NHS team who had complications or concerns stemming from cosmetic procedures undergone outside of the UK had increased.

Of the procedures which had resulted in complications or concerns, the most common were breast augmentation (29%), abdominoplasty (25.2%) and breast reduction (15.7%). Of the patients presenting with complications or concerns, 26% only wanted to register concerns or dissatisfaction over cosmetic matters but 74% required treatment.

What can The Edinburgh Clinic do for you?

If you are considering cosmetic surgery then The Edinburgh Clinic offers a relaxing yet professional environment. For day-case procedures our own facilities at The Edinburgh Clinic will be used, while for treatments requiring an overnight stay your consultant will manage your treatment journey privately within Edinburgh. The quality and continuity of your care in this instance is assured by a follow-up consultation at our clinic.

Our consultants are registered on the Specialist Register for Plastic Surgery on the GMC website – and are members of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) or The British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS).

For further information and for any questions you may have, please contact The Edinburgh Clinic.

0131 447 2340

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