Guide to Plastic Surgery Abroad

Last updated: 7th August, 2017 

No one is born perfect. That’s where plastic surgery comes in. The right procedure could make you look—and feel—like perfection. But taking the time to do your research is key, as there are renowned and talented plastic surgeons all over the world who can help you look your absolute best at an affordable price. It’s no wonder that so many people are choosing to undergo a variety of plastic surgery procedures in another country.
 
If you have been thinking about plastic surgery but the doctors in your home country are too expensive, or if you are hoping to find the absolute best doctor and medical facility for your needs, looking abroad could be a wise move. This guide to plastic surgery abroad can help steer your decisions as you do your research.

In this guide, you will discover:

What you should consider before undergoing plastic surgery abroad

Before you dive right into finding the best place for cosmetic surgery abroad, you will need to take a few factors into consideration. Doing so will help you make the right choices for your health, and it will also help guide you to the appropriate overseas destination and medical facility that will perform the surgery with utmost care and precision.
 
There are many countries where plastic surgery procedures are commonplace and where medical professionals have honed their skills so they can provide their patients with top-notch care and beautiful results. Narrowing down those choices will involve taking a few concerns into consideration.
  • Don’t just focus on price: Sure, you can get a great deal on an otherwise really expensive plastic surgery procedure abroad, but price should not be your only decision maker. After all, even when you source your medical specialist abroad, you should expect to pay more for someone with many years of experience versus and newly graduated practitioner. While you can certainly think about cost and factor it into your final decision, it should not be your be-all and end-all for your ultimate choice.
  • Research the conditions of a clinic before booking: Not all plastic surgery clinics are created equal, both at home and abroad. Online photos may not give you an accurate representation of the clinic, as they may be outdated. If at all possible, it is highly recommended that you visit a clinic prior to actually booking your surgery. Ask for a tour of the facility, talk to the staff, and make a preliminary appointment to talk with the doctor. And don’t forget to ask to see certification information to be certain that the hospital or clinic is fully accredited, as that will prove that it has passed a comprehensive review and that it operates in a manner that focuses on patient safety.
  • Ensure that the surgeon is fully qualified: Different countries will have different requirements for medical certifications, so when you look abroad, you may encounter surgeons who are not as qualified as those at home. So, in addition to looking into the conditions of the facility, also ask about the surgeon’s educational background. Many highly qualified surgeons abroad will be able to prove that they were actually trained in the United States or in the United Kingdom, as a couple of examples, so they will be certified by the American Medical Association (AMA) or the General Medical Council (GMC), respectively. European accreditation bodies, such as the European Association of Plastic Surgeons, as well as international bodies, like the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS) or the International Confederation for Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery (IPRAS), can also provide you with additional peace of mind regarding the qualifications of the medical facility and its staff.
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Where to get the safest and cheapest plastic surgery in the world

According to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ISAPS), the United States, Brazil, Japan, Italy, and Mexico are the top five countries when it comes to the highest number of plastic surgery procedures performed overall. But just because a lot of surgeries are performed in a particular place does not necessarily mean that you will receive the best care there or that the treatments will be affordable.
 
When it comes to where to get the safest and most affordable plastic surgery, consider the following locations:
  • The International Medical Travel Journal (IMTJ) has stated that Malaysia ranks first in the world for plastic surgery abroad. In fact, the country was awarded the IMTJ Medical Travel Award for Destination of the Year for 2016. It also received an award for International Cosmetic Surgery Clinic of the Year. Over half a million individuals from various countries throughout the world choose to visit Malaysia for their plastic surgery procedures, as the country offers not only modern infrastructure and facilities, but also lower costs compared with other nations. Plus, for English-speaking patients, Malaysia is a good choice, as English is spoken widely there.  
  • Another popular destination is Brazil, not only in terms of the amount of procedures completed annually, but also in terms of medical professionals following safety protocols for their patients. Rio de Janeiro, in particular, is considered the World Capital of Plastic Surgery, and Brazil overall is recognised for its innovations, particularly in the realm of cosmetic surgeries. JCI-accredited hospitals and highly skilled and trained doctors can also easily be found in Brazil. And, oftentimes, when you compare costs for various plastic surgery procedures, Brazil proves to be a more affordable option.
  • When you are searching for a place where you can undergo plastic surgery with safety and affordability in mind, consider Thailand as well. Medical tourism there has been growing with each passing year, and there is a wide range of high quality treatments, along with a variety of cosmetic procedures, offered to those who visit from abroad. Like Brazil and Malaysia, Thailand’s costs when it comes to undergoing plastic surgery are lower than they are in other countries. And, in addition to speaking English well, many medical professionals throughout the country can prove that they were actually trained in a Western nation like the United States. Check out medical facilities in Bangkok, in particular, as some of the top doctors in the country are located there.
compare costs

How to compare the cost of plastic surgery abroad

Comparing the cost of plastic surgery in another country can be a bit challenging, as you will need to consider exchange rate fluctuations when pricing your procedures. But on top of that, you should also calculate the total cost of having your procedure completed abroad. So, in addition to the actual cost of the surgery, also enquire about various other costs that you will be responsible for, such as:
  • Pre-op and post-op consultation fees
  • Lab work costs
  • Medication costs
  • Anaesthesia costs
  • Aftercare fees
  • Facility and surgeon fees
  • Miscellaneous fees that depend upon your surgery, such as compression garments or breast implants

Also, because you will be travelling abroad, you will need to factor in the cost of getting to and from your destination, as well as the cost of accommodations and transportation while you are there.

Different countries will charge different amounts of money for the same procedure, and this could help you narrow down your choices to the right destination for your needs. For example, while a rhinoplasty will cost a little over $400 USD in Thailand, it will cost over $1,000 USD in Malaysia.1 Breast implants, on the other hand, could cost around $1,800 USD in Brazil, or around $2,600 in Thailand.2

Compare those prices with the United States, where the average cost of a rhinoplasty could be around $5,000 USD, while breast augmentation can be around $3,700 USD.3,4 Rhinoplasty in Australia could cost around $8,000 AUD, while breast implants could cost around $10,000 AUD.5,6 Breast implants in the United Kingdom could cost around £3,500 to £7,000, while a rhinoplasty could average anywhere from £4,500 to £7,000.7,8

These costs are averages, and they can change at any time. They also may not include the extra fees associated with having a procedure, and they do not include personal travel costs.

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How to avoid common risks that come with undergoing plastic surgery

As is the case when undergoing any type of surgery, whether at home or abroad, there are certain risks involved. Knowing the surgical procedure and what you should expect before, during, and after will help you fully prepare for what lies ahead and take appropriate precautions to avoid complications.
 
Finding the right surgeon and medical facility abroad will also help ensure that your treatment will be top-notch. Ask plenty of questions, ask to see accreditations and certifications, look into patient referrals and read reviews, and make sure all of the costs are laid out so you will know how to budget appropriately.
 
Choosing a facility that has medical professionals who speak English will also help reduce the risk of problems arising from miscommunications and misunderstandings that can result from language barriers and improper translations. 

How to prepare for your procedure abroad

To prepare for your procedure, it is best to talk to the surgeon who will be treating you. He or she will be able to give you all of the details you need to know when it comes to how to prep for what lies ahead, as well as what steps you need to take to recover perfectly.
 
After you have booked your surgery and you know how much time you will be staying in the facility for prep, surgery, and recuperation, you can make your travel arrangements. If you are going to a non-English speaking facility, take a translator with you. Be sure your passport is valid for 6 months beyond your travel date, purchase your plane tickets, and book your accommodations in advance. And don’t forget to discuss how you will pay for the surgery, as some facilities will allow you to pay in instalments, while others may want you to pay for everything upfront. 
payment

Smart ways to pay for your plastic surgery abroad

Check with your health insurance provider to determine if any of the costs of your plastic surgery abroad will be covered. If not, you will need to determine how much you can pay out of pocket, or you can ask about international medical coverage, which is becoming more common, thanks to the rise in popularity of medical tourism.
 
Services like OFX also make it easy to submit payments internationally from your bank account. Your currency will be converted, and your transfer can be completed online and tracked with a convenient mobile app. And by using OFX, you can save even more money when it comes to having your currency converted and sent abroad (bye-bye, bank fees and hefty margins!), leaving more of your budget available for travel and medical costs. Plus, you can opt to use a Forward Contract to lock in a great exchange rate for up to one year in order to protect yourself from foreign exchange volatility as you pay for your surgery.

Taking the leap towards looking your best 

People go abroad for a lot of things, like school, health care, employment, and retirement. So it is really no surprise that getting plastic surgery in another country is quite popular amongst individuals who want to get high quality care at a more affordable price.

By following the right strategy for not only finding the best surgeon, but also paying for your procedure, you can take the leap towards looking your best and perfecting whatever flaws you no longer want to deal with. Before you know it, you will be flaunting your new look and loving the confidence that you have gained.

 

Sources:

  1. https://www.medigo.com/en-us/plastic-and-cosmetic-surgery/rhinoplasty?sort=best_match
  2.  https://www.medigo.com/en-us/plastic-and-cosmetic-surgery/breast-implants?sort=best_match
  3.  https://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/rhinoplasty/cost
  4.  https://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/breast-augmentation/cost
  5.  https://www.medigo.com/blog/medigo-guides/rhinoplasty-cost-guide/
  6.  http://www.costhetics.com.au/plastic-surgery/what-does-breast-augmentation-cost-in-australia/
  7.  http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/cosmetic-treatments-guide/Pages/breast-enlargement.aspx
  8.  http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/cosmetic-treatments-guide/Pages/nose-job.aspx
  9.  https://www.treatmentabroad.com/cosmetic-abroad/guide/surgeon-clinic-reputable
  10.  http://www.isaps.org/medical-travel-guide/plastic-surgery-tourists
  11.  https://www.newbeauty.com/hottopic/blogpost/11087-top-countries-plastic-surgery/
  12.  http://www.isaps.org/medical-travel-guide/fees-financing-insurance
  13.  http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/cosmetic-treatments-guide/Pages/cosmetic-surgery-abroad.aspx