Miguel Delgado, M.D. Exposes Dangers in Growing Trend of Medical Tourism

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A resurgence of elective plastic surgery seems to be gaining in the medical tourism industry. With the economy down and medical costs going up it is not surprising that the lure of a tropical vacation package in a far off land is tempting. But this vacation package has the additional lure of the cosmetic procedure of the patient's choice; with sunshine, beaches, rest and relaxation away from home, at a fraction of the cost. Miguel Delgado, M.D. explains there are some very important things to consider that may not seem apparent at first look.

Miguel Delgado, M.D.

Miguel Delgado, M.D.

Medical tourism is a booming business and for good reason. The cost of healthcare is cause for people to look for other alternatives...but buyer beware!

Miguel Delgado, M.D. states that language and cultural barriers can make communicating with doctors and nurses very frustrating. In some countries, doctors are regarded as authority figures and should not be questioned. There are many countries that are marketing themselves as medical tourist destinations, including; Thailand, India, Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico, South Korea, the Philippines and more.

Many countries have infectious diseases such as; influenza, tuberculosis and some transmitted by mosquitoes that Americans and Europeans would not have built up a natural immunity to. Depending on the country and the hospital, standards of post operative care can vary immensely. Accreditation and other measures of quality control vary greatly around the world.

One of the most popular cosmetic procedures today is the "Mommy Makeover", this is a combination of a tummy tuck with breast surgery, either a breast augmentation, breast lift or in some cases a breast reduction and usually liposuction. Women who are finished having children love this procedure as it gets them back to their pre-pregnancy body. It is a long procedure and is expensive. Follow up care is very important, in most cases drains are used for 7 to 10 days. The patient must avoid strenuous activity, lifting and bending, making traveling through an airport with luggage difficult. Preventing blood clots (thrombosis) the day of surgery and throughout the recovery period is of extreme importance, traveling on an airplane increases this risk due to the many hours of immobility.

There are excellent surgeons all over the world but many are able to have lower fees because they do not provide protection for patients such as medical malpractice or hospitals do not have liability insurance. Some surgeons may have only training in general surgery and not specialties such as being Board Certified in Plastic Surgery. Sometimes inferior medical devices are used such as breast implants for popular surgeries as breast augmentation. This would not be the case in the United States where implants are closely monitored by the FDA.

Personal medical insurance most likely will not cover a patient while out of the country, if a medical complication should arise, additional costs could be out of pocket. “Medical tourism” is typically excluded from travel insurance coverage. If a complication arises at home there will be a need to find a local doctor willing to take on a case with complications which can be very expensive, or travel back to the foreign country.

Recently in the news was a case of a mother of three who traveled from England to Poland to have a breast augmentation and tummy tuck to lift her spirits after her husband had passed away. She died within 24 hours of the surgery, the clinic claimed she had a stroke, but due to “translation problems and several gaps in the medical reports, made it difficult to reach a firm conclusion.”

With unknown changes in the future of health insurance, it may be that some people will only have the option of having medically necessary surgery outside the country. It is necessary to weigh the risks. But for elective cosmetic surgery why take the chance?

Recovering on a tropical beach is not a good option; the need to stay out of the sun and out of the water is necessary to avoid scarring and infection. Being close to home with the support of family or friends is optimal. And having the surgeon nearby is the safest situation. Enjoying a trip to a far off destination after healing is the best plan.

Miguel Delgado, M.D. holds the two credentials most coveted by plastic surgeons practicing in the United States, namely certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and membership in the American Society of Plastic Surgery. He has his own fully accredited surgery center and two offices located in the Bay Area, San Francisco and Marin. View his vast amount of before and after pictures of his San Francisco patients. For more information visit http://www.dr-delgado.com/ or call for a consultation at (415) 898-4161.


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