Cosmetic tourism under the microscope after death in Thailand 2014

The Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) has re-issued warnings of the risks of cosmetic tourism following the death of a British woman undergoing a procedure in Thailand last week.

The woman, reportedly died during a corrective procedure performed by an allegedly “uncertified surgeon” after her surgery at the same Bangkok clinic weeks earlier, ASPS said in a statement.

ASPS president Dr Tony Kane said it is “extremely concerning” that some perceive cosmetic surgery as “less serious” than other forms of surgery.

“Most people would never consider combining any other type of surgery with an overseas holiday,” he said.

“The reality is that cosmetic surgery is invasive and carries the same risk as any other surgery and must be taken seriously.”

Addressing the rise in ‘cosmetic tourism packages’, Dr Kane said that while it may appear cheaper to undergo the same procedure overseas than in Australia, as well as many lured into thinking the time spent overseas could double as a holiday break, he warns “many patients suffer complications requiring corrective surgery” upon returning to Australia.

Furthermore, patients should be aware that in most cases their travel insurance would not cover complications arising from elected surgery, with each provider having different policies surrounding ‘cosmetic tourism’ holidays.

“This means patients will end up paying more than if they had, upfront, chosen a qualified Specialist Plastic Surgeon in Australia,” Dr Kane said.

“If, despite all the possible risks, the choice is to go overseas for a procedure, all patients should check that the staff, equipment and continuum of care is at least equal to what you would receive in Australia and that the medical practitioner has an internationally recognised and accredited surgical qualification”

“At the very least, you must insist on at least one face to face consultation with the practitioner before the surgery so you can ask all your questions about the procedure, the surgeon’s qualifications and training and that of the anaesthetist and other medical staff involved. Also be fully satisfied that any devices and products used in the procedure meet Australian standards. You also need the details of all follow up care and management of complications,” he said.

Dr Kane warned that having multiple procedures over a short space of time and then almost immediately travelling on a long flight back to Australia “is extremely risky”.

The Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons urges travellers considering overseas cosmetic procedures to first visit its website which provides a comprehensive cosmetic tourism checklist,
‘Buyer Beware: Cosmetic Tourism’.