Cosmetic treatments: home versus abroad


With news that the number of patients flying overseas for medical treatment has trebled as NHS waiting times reach a record high, we take a look at the risks of seeking cheap cosmetic treatments elsewhere.

These figures from the Office for National Statistics show a whopping 198% rise in trips abroad for surgical treatment between 2014 and 2016.

Such treatments include dentistry and cosmetic surgery – both of which are much cheaper in Eastern Europe, for example. 

So, what’s so wrong about travelling abroad for cosmetic procedures?

First of all, let’s look at what’s so RIGHT about having aesthetic procedures here.

In the UK, doctors and surgeons are regulated by the General Medical Council and dentists similarly so by the General Dental Council and have to be revalidated to ensure that their skills and knowledge are up to date, which goes some way to ensuring a high level of experience.

Additionally, the products available in the UK market also have to undergo various approval processes (e.g. CE marking) to ensure quality and safety.
Although the cost may be a little higher, the products used are original products – not counterfeit – and will have undergone various studies to prove their efficacy and to minimise any long-term side effects. 

You may well know how to raise concerns about your treatment in the UK, but it’s a different scenario in a foreign country where language can prove a barrier to understanding what the clinician might be telling you and the rules may be different – if indeed there are rules.
Should you opt to seek treatments abroad, are the questions they ask comprehensive? Did they ask about your general health, whether you smoke or are on medications, or whether you have had general anaesthetic and major surgery in the past?

More importantly, will the treating dentist speak English? If not, is there a translator? Do they have any patient testimonials or ‘before and after’ pictures of cases carried out by the clinician you are seeing? 

All cosmetic treatment requires aftercare, have you factored in the time for recovery?

Post-procedure care is all. Cosmetic procedures, even non-surgical treatments, come with risk.

It is therefore important you receive the appropriate aftercare and that you can go back to the practitioner for follow-up appointments and to have check ups should things go wrong.

An infected implant, including a breast implant, is a surgical emergency – and can be dealt swiftly if you’re in the UK. Left in place longer than necessary as you try to fly back to your surgeon abroad and you may be facing serious illness – or even death.

Don’t put the NHS under pressure or yourself at risk by flying elsewhere for treatment, you can find a qualified, experienced and safe clinician here…






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