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Why Medical Tourism is a Bad Idea (And What to Do About It!)

With globalization and an increasing ease of travel, many leave the country to receive treatment for cosmetic or weight loss surgery. This concept of going abroad for medical care is called “medical tourism”. Leaving the United States for any form of medical treatment can be a risky endeavor and is not recommended. Here is why medical tourism is a bad idea and what to do about it:

1. The Surgical Risk Could Be Increased

With any form of surgery, there is always minor risk involved. In a foreign country, it can be difficult to rest assured the hospital has the same protocol and safety measures that are implemented here in the US. Surgical devices, such as needles, could be reused. This could lead to exposure to serious infections such as hepatitis or HIV. In addition, an international hospital may contain viruses or bacteria that are less common here in the US. This not only poses a risk for the patient, but it could lead to a public health crisis if they microorganism is brought back stateside.

Traveling by plane after a surgery also increases chances of post-surgical risks such as deep vein thrombosis or a pulmonary embolism. These conditions can occur after sitting for long periods of time. Sitting decreases blood flow from the legs back up to the heart, causing the blood to remain stagnant and potentially clot. The risk is even greater during air travel.

2. It May Not Be Worth the Low Cost

There are many more costs involved in medical tourism than simply the cost of surgery. You must take into account the expenses for transportation, lodging, food, and medication. In addition, many surgeries also require post-op visits. When everything is added up, medical tourism may not actually save you money in the long run. If you experience complications after the surgery and have to receive care in the US, it could be very pricey and not covered by insurance.

Before seeking out options for bariatric surgery abroad, check to see if your insurance will cover it in the US. With certain stipulations, many discover they can have the surgery performed in the US with insurance paying the bill. Taking into consideration a greater chance of success and lower risk of complications, it is better to have insurance cover your surgery in the US rather than seeking out treatment internationally.

3. There Could Be a Language Barrier

Unless you have a very high level of the language spoken in the treatment facility, important medical information could be lost in translation. This could lead to misunderstanding about the surgical process or post-op care. Even a minor miscommunication can lead to a detrimental outcome. It is much safer and more comfortable to receive care in a facility that functions using your native language.

There might be an attraction to medical tourism in order to have a cosmetic or weight loss surgery performed at a lower cost. However, the risks will often outweigh the benefits and leave you in a position worse than where you began. There are many great options for cosmetic and bariatric surgery here in the US. At Brand Surgical Institute, we are dedicated to providing you the highest quality care.


If you want to avoid medical tourism and are looking to receive cosmetic or weight loss surgery, call us today at (818) 244-9999 to schedule a FREE consultation!

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