Like other issues related to healthcare, access to plastic surgery in the United States continues to be for the wealthy few. However, over the years, many prospects considering plastic surgery consider looking outside of the U.S. border to fulfill their plastic surgery needs and desires. This term is known as medical tourism. Yet, it can also go by the terms medical travel, cosmetic tourism, plastic surgery abroad, health tourism or global healthcare. Medical tourism has emerged as a practical and favorable option because of the recent downturn in the United States economy, the startling record of unemployed Americans and the overwhelming number of the uninsured. You can check out http://yourguidetoplasticsurgery.com to read about plastic surgery prices and see how much it costs, on average, in the United States.
Benefits of Medical Tourism
The price of medical tourism is difficult to resist. One reason that contributes to the low prices is the low cost of living in many developing nations. Many medical tourists flock to developing countries, especially countries in Asia, to meet their plastic surgery needs. Apart from a country’s reduced cost of living, most hospitals abroad do not have the high administrative and overhead costs needed to operate the facility. Finally, doctors who practice abroad usually do not have to pay ridiculously high malpractice fees or liability insurance.
Licensed and Certified Surgeons
Licenses, certifications and regulations vary country to country, but most reputable plastic surgeons will be affiliated with membership groups. Legitimate plastic surgeons all over the world are looking to set themselves apart from quack doctors that exist in every corner of the globe, including the United States. Also, many surgeons abroad have degrees from the United States or other European nations. It is not uncommon for plastic surgeons in other countries to be American citizens who have moved.
Drawbacks of Medical Tourism
The barriers of medical tourism go beyond physical borders. There are many types of barriers that exist in medical tourism. There are linguistic, cultural, political and even gender differences. Medical tourists from the United States should not expect to receive the same bedside manners that their family doctor gives them at home. Mentally preparing for this reality and learning as much about the country where the surgery will be performed can help mitigate the potential frustrations that can arise.
Unlike a doctor that a patient has seen for years, a plastic surgeon abroad will not have access to a patient’s complete medical history. Patients must disclose their complete medical history, any allergies and prescriptions to the surgeon abroad to avoid life-threatening complications. In light of a complication, many foreign countries do not offer the same legal protections for medical tourists. Other risks can occur after a surgery. Perhaps a patient’s healing takes longer than initially anticipated. Also, some post-surgery rehabilitation may not have the space or time available for a patient to make a full recovery. Even with a stable recovery, flying back home can pose a risk as blood clots can emerge from the lack of inactivity and can lead to life-threatening consequences.
Case Study – Croatia
Croatia is an interesting example to explore because despite being a newcomer on the medical tourism scene, it is already experiencing rapid success. Similar to the United States, Croatia has its own plastic surgery standards. The Croatian equivalent to American Society of Plastic Surgeons is called the Croatian Society of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery (CSPRAS) http://www.kbd.hr/cspras/. Being backed by International Confederation for Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery (IPRAS) and European Society of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery (ESPRAS), the CSPRAS is the “professional representative body for plastic surgeons in Croatia.” With close to one hundred members on its list, the CSPRAS is a valuable resource for medical tourists. A surgeon’s name, address, title, phone and address are available for public viewing.
According to Zoran Radosavljevic of Reuters http://www.reuters.com/article/2009/09/07/us-croatia-medical-idUSTRE5861LT20090907, Croatia is making its mark in the medical tourism world by offering a combination of “cheap but high quality medical services with its spectacular Adriatic coast and the crystal clear sea.” For instance, plastic surgery procedures in Croatia can cost two to three times less compared to England; most of the procedures are performed in state-of-the-art facilities. Linda Briggs Ltd http://www.lindabriggs.co.uk/countries/croatiaprices.htm, an organization that offers independent cosmetic surgery advice in Croatia, claims that a face list in Zagreb, Croatia is £3,300 GBP. In the United States, face lifts can run as high as $9000 USD.
Radosavljevic from Reuters interviews Zoran Zgaljardic, the operator of Croatian cosmetic clinic. Zgaljardic projects that Croatia has all the advantages that Thailand does not. One of the main advantages that Zgaljardic cites is Croatia’s location because it is “6 hours away from New York and 2.5 hours from London.” Zgaljardic foresees the Croatian medical tourism market expanding even further with the industry already infiltrating Russia.
Many of the clinic practitioners and owners that Radosavljevic interviewed said that most of their new business was coming from word of mouth referrals. Clients have been so impressed by their results and quality of care that they tell everyone back home; medical facilities have to do little to no advertising on their own. Croatia is emerging as a leader organically and by being the best.
This post was written by Casey from Your Guide to Plastic Surgery