The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) has released guidelines for patients who plan to travel abroad for surgery. ASAPS strongly recommends that patients do their homework and be comfortable with the answers to the following questions before making any commitments of either time or money.

• Unless you have met the surgeon on a prior visit, and have seen the surgery facility, how do you know that you will be comfortable with him or her, and feel secure in proceeding with surgery? 

• What are the risks of long flights and any additional land travel before and after surgery? Will travel have an impact on your surgical outcome?  Will you have to stay longer at the tourist destination to decrease the risk of post surgical deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) before you get on a plane?

• Is there an increased risk of DVT in the legs, or pulmonary embolism (blood clots in the lungs) associated with long air travel before and after surgery?

• What is the surgeon’s training?

• What specialty certification does the surgeon hold?

• What happens if you develop complications?

• If you think that the surgeon has been negligent, what recourse will you have?

• What are the local standards of anesthesia and nursing care?  What credentials do these providers hold and what are the standards of the credentials?

• Is there an acute care hospital nearby if complications should arise? Is it a fully licensed, modern facility?

• What physician will care for you at home if complications arise?

• What are the surgeon’s recommendations for aftercare? How long after your procedure will you need to stay in the area?  Who will care for you during  your initial recovery? What are the costs for this postoperative care?

• Do the key personnel at the surgeon’s office and in the operating room speak fluent English?

ASAPS recommends that patients carefully consider the total costs involved with having surgery abroad before commiting to it, including the additional time off work required for travel and recovery, the costs of air travel and extended stays abroad, potential costs if revision surgery is needed, and unanticipated expenses if complications occur.

[www.surgery.org, December 15, 2006]