With cosmetic surgery procedures increasing in popularity year after year and many procedures that were once considered taboo becoming more and more commonplace, many surgeons are issuing cautions to patients seeking procedures abroad. Recent articles have highlighted the dangers of foreign “cosmetic surgery vacations” with practitioners that may or may not be trained in the procedures they offer. Here’s why when it comes to cosmetic surgery, it’s better to stay home.
Dr. Randy Sanovich is a maxillofacial and facial cosmetic surgeon operating in Dallas, Texas. He performs many procedures dealing with the face and neck.
“The No. 1 reason to choose a United States-based doctor is board certification,” says Sanovich.
Board certification is a peer-reviewed process in which surgeons and other doctors must undergo rigorous testing and training. They must also pass a test and maintain their board certification by receiving annual training and testing to keep up on the latest techniques as well as prove they can still perform the old ones.
But while board certification is the gold standard for a doctor, some patients think simply having a license to practice is enough.
“Board certification ensures that your surgeon has the proper skills to perform the procedure you’re requesting,” says Sanovich. “It goes beyond just licensing.”
Though board certification is not required, it is an extra level of insurance for the patient. Unfortunately, some countries do not have such requirements, and many practitioners may not even be licensed at all. A recent case in the Dominican Republic left a patient dead after the patient underwent a procedure with an uncertified doctor. Cases like this have occurred in the United States as well with unlicensed, uncertified practitioners.
Another bonus to receiving your surgery stateside is the access it provides to your medical team.
“At my practice, it is easy for patients to get a hold of someone following their surgery if they have any questions or concerns,” says Sanovich. “We treat our patients like family and we truly care as much about them before their procedure as we do after.”
But while you may still get the same support from some foreign doctors, it can be difficult to receive follow-up care.
“When you have your procedure done locally, you can come in for follow-ups without having to take an international flight,” Sanovich says. “That expense can really add up, especially if you want revisions.”
Finally, don’t discount the power of a great consultation.
“At a local practice, you can meet with your surgeon as many times as you need prior to the surgery to make sure you’re on the same page. If my patients have questions or concerns prior to their procedure I am happy to take the time to answer them,” says Sanovich. “It benefits the surgeon as well because we get to know the patient as a person as well as a patient.”