Cosmetic surgery is not cheap, particularly because it is not covered by most health insurance policies. Certain procedures such as a breast reduction or an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), rhinoplasty (nose job) maybe covered based on their medical necessity. Such procedures need to have clear documentation and often be pre-approved for the insurance company to pay. As a result, an increasing number of men and women are considering getting plastic surgery outside the United States, due to the lower costs. While taking this step is tempting, you should know about the significant dangers involved.


With any surgery, there are always risks including bleeding, excessive pain and infection. Even without any of these surgical risks becoming a reality, communicating your post-operative concerns about your healing process is very important. Do you want to rely upon email communication as you deal with your healing process? Can you imagine your potential anxiety waiting for a reply as you have a healing concern? If you have plastic surgery outside the United States by a facelift specialist you barely know, you might have a difficult time communicating your concerns about any post-surgical complications or dealing with the post-treatment care you need. Language barriers can make these situations even more difficult and potentially life-threatening.

Are You Really Receiving What You Expected?

As you know, not all facelifts are the same. It can be enticing to see the foreign doctor provides procedure “X” – a vertical facelift, an abdominoplasty, liposculpture, breast augmentation or even skin fillers at a lower cost then if such procedures were performed in the United States. Very qualified doctors outside of the United States do great work. However, there is a potential problem as it relates to terminology. Even if one’s friend had such a procedure performed by Dr. X and had an expected, positive outcome, by having such a procedure by Dr. X does not mean you will have the same, happy result. There is nothing that replaces the importance of face-to-face consultation with your final treating surgeon and the realistic expectations of your surgical results. You have to trust that your communication before your procedure is correct. Once a procedure is performed, having buyer’s remorse will not help you.

Doing Too Much Too Soon

If you have plastic surgery in a country you have been looking forward to visiting, you will probably want to do some sightseeing, walking, shopping and other activities. The urge to make the most of your time there might lead to your over-exerting yourself after your procedure when you should be resting to help your body recuperate. Even trying foods with which you are unfamiliar might lead to added physical and physiological stress if you have problems digesting what you have eaten.

plastic surgery outside the us

The Stress of Air Travel

Enduring a long airline flight can be physically exhausting at the best of times. It can be much worse if you are also recovering from a facelift or other plastic surgery procedure. Changes in air pressure can significantly increase your risk of serious conditions such as pulmonary embolism and blood clots.

Legal Difficulties

If you have a plastic surgery procedure in the U.S., you are protected against malpractice by American laws. However, the same cannot be said if you elect to have plastic surgery outside the United States. In the long run, the procedure that had looked like a bargain might turn out to be much more costly than a similar operation done here at home, particularly if complications arise or you need to stay longer in order to recover.

Having cosmetic procedures can pose a financial challenge for many patients. Surgical cost may be lower outside of the United States for many reasons. However, making so-called medical tourism seems like a viable option does have a negative side. Before you commit to this course, bear the very real risks in mind. Also, be aware that many board-certified, respected American, Board Certified plastic surgeons offer financing plans that make it easier to afford the procedure you want.

Dr Michael KulickDr. Michael Kulick, MD is a leading board certified plastic surgeon in San Francisco, California. During an initial consultation, he’ll examine your individual anatomy, discuss all your options, and create a unique treatment plan along with any other necessary procedures. If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of plastic surgery and are looking for a qualified cosmetic surgeon, use this online form to request a consultation with Dr. Kulick or call 415-956-2550.