Plastic surgery tourism: Are the savings worth it?

September 6, 2011

Plastic surgery tourism: Are the savings worth it?
Plastic surgery tourism: Are the savings worth it?

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), Americans spent nearly $10.7 billion on cosmetic procedures in 2010. More than $6.6 billion of that total was spent on surgical procedures including breast augmentation, liposuction, eyelid surgery, tummy tucks and other common surgeries.

Many of these procedures cost thousands of dollars when performed by licensed, board-certified plastic surgeons. Is it pricey? Yes, but most of those who choose these qualified professionals usually feel that, in the end, the high cost is worth it, considering the permanent result and the fact that these procedures are serious surgeries with the potential, however slight, of complications.

Regardless, many people around the world simply cannot afford to alter their appearance here in the United States. Some turn to unlicensed surgeons who practice in back-alley offices or apartments here in the U.S. to realize their dreams of an enhanced look without spending thousands of dollars.

Others turn to foreign doctors who perform surgeries in upscale, modern facilities in countries such as South Africa, Brazil, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Thailand, but at a fraction of the cost.

This phenomenon is known as plastic surgery tourism, and experts say it's becoming increasingly popular given the tough economic times in the U.S. and abroad.

The ease of finding information on the internet makes plastic surgery tourism easier than ever. Add in a doctor that seems to be well-qualified, a state-of-the-art facility and an exotic, relaxing destination and many information-seekers are quickly booking their trip.

But experts say buyer beware. Many of these doctors and facilities are not all they're advertised to be.

"It's really is scary to me that someone would get on an airplane and fly to a foreign country where there's no resort to help if there's a problem," a US plastic surgeon told Dateline NBC regarding plastic surgery tourism.

While there are no statistics available about problems arising from plastic surgeries performed outside of the U.S., complications such as serious infections and even death are not unheard of, according to the Huffington Post.

No matter where you decide to have a plastic surgery procedure, experts advise asking a lot of questions and doing your research before going under the knife.  

The mission of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) includes medical education, public education and patient advocacy. Plastic Surgery News Briefs are summaries of current stories found through various news and magazine outlets that relate to or mention plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures. The views expressed in these news articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASAPS, but are merely published as an educational service to our members and the general public. For additional information on these subjects and other plastic surgery related topics, please go to

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The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), is recognized as the world's leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body. ASAPS is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; Active Members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and nonsurgical aesthetic procedures. International Active Members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.


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