Maybe you’ve heard about people flying off to distant lands for cosmetic surgery on the cheap. Tummy tucks are one-third of the price and breast lifts are available for $1,000 each. I lived in Costa Rica for a year, the mecca of medical tourism, and I know exactly what it’s like. While abroad, I got four major cosmetic surgeries from an American-educated doctor for a fraction of the cost back home.
When you’ve lost a substantial amount of weight, especially in a short time, there’s often nothing you can do about loose skin. No amount of toning or lifting weights is going to make you look better. Your trainer will tell you this, and so will your doctor. However, just like e-therapy, insurance doesn’t cover cosmetic surgery most of the time.
Put a Number on It
I lost 100 pounds in less than a year, which meant I had loose skin pretty much everywhere. I got a thigh lift, tummy tuck, breast lift and upper arm lift in one long, nine-hour surgery. It’s always nerve-wracking going into surgery, and even more so in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language. While my doctor spoke English fluently, the rest of the staff only spoke Spanish.
All four procedures, including liposuction in all areas to remove pockets of fat, cost $12,000. That includes anesthesiology, garments post-op and follow-up care. The same procedures might easily cost $30,000 in the US. However, unlike medical tourists, I had a home to go to after surgery.
The Cons of the Choice
A number of hotels specialize in medical tourism where doctors and nurses are on call 24/7. The rooms are designed for rest and recovery. However, most of these hotels cost as much as a five-star resort. You can always opt for a more affordable hotel, but you won’t get quick attention in case of an emergency.
You should also carefully consider what will happen if there’s an issue after the surgery. You’ll need a doctor on hand in the US in case scars dog-ear or keloid. It can be dangerous to fly after a major surgery until the bruising and swelling subsides. I highly recommend having a loved one accompany you if possible, because you’ll feel quite lonely in a foreign country with a new body.
Is It Worth It?
Most people who get skin removed have been thinking about it for a long time. It’s frustrating when you’ve put in the work and dedication to lose weight, only to see that you still have a body you’re not comfortable showing off in a swimsuit or tank top. If cost is your only deterrent, medical tourism might be a great solution for you. However, carefully weigh the risks.
Check the referrals of your doctor and ask for before and after photos. Your doctor, if not the staff, should speak a language that you’re comfortable with. While it’s impossible to check out the facility in advance, look at pictures of the clinic and consider whether it’s a place where you’ll feel safe and secure.
Making the Decision
There will always be horror stories about surgery abroad. However, if you select a qualified surgeon, your chances of becoming one of those small statistics are slim. The bigger threat is “what ifs” down the road. You and your doctor have no way of knowing how your body will respond weeks or even months later.
My best advice is to do your research, choose a hotel where you’ll be comfortable and stay as long as possible. You’ll want to check in with your doctor regularly during the first two weeks of surgery. Some people risk hopping on a flight just a few days later. Play it safe; stay a while and ensure that you get the care you deserve.
About the Author: Adrienne is a blogger and aspiring writer. When she’s not blogging about tech and social media, you might find her practicing her French, whipping up some recipes she found on Pinterest, or obsessing over vintage postcards and stamps.
Image Credit: Thejas Panarkandy