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5 Reasons Toronto Patients Should Say ‘No’ to Plastic Surgery Tourism

by Michael Weinberg

Not a week goes by that I — and other plastic surgeons in Toronto — do not see some unfortunate person who tried to save a little money by travelling to an exotic locale to have a plastic surgery procedure. Most tell me they “checked out” their surgeon online, and everything looked fine. But repeatedly, patients see me for serious complications arising from a procedure done out of country. These are the kinds of complications that simply should not happen if surgery is performed properly and if appropriate postoperative care is administered.

Columbia and Brazil are 2 common destinations for this sort of thing. While I have no doubt there are some very fine surgeons in these places, the really good ones — the ones I would send my family members to — probably don’t cost any less than having surgery here.

My best advice: Do not leave Canada to have a procedure! You cannot know from a distance whether the surgeon adheres to the standard of plastic surgical care here in Toronto, and you will have very little recourse when things go wrong. Judging by the cases I have seen, there is a significant likelihood that they will.

Several reasons not to indulge in plastic surgery tourism are:

  1. You do not have a good way to gauge the training and skill of the surgeon, nor the safety of the facility. Standards for certification are not the same elsewhere.
  2. You cannot be confident of the products and materials that are being used. For example, it was recently revealed that some breast implants used in France were filled with industrial rather than medical-grade silicone (so called PIP Implants). All breast implants used by plastic surgeons here in Canada have undergone rigorous evaluation before being approved by Health Canada. You have no way of knowing what a surgeon is implanting outside the country.
  3. If you suffer serious complications while in a foreign country that require hospitalization there, it is unlikely that your health insurance will cover any costs you may incur. Your cost-saving adventure could turn into a life-threatening and money-losing proposition.
  4. If you suffer complications after your return home (medical difficulties such as infection or non-healing wounds), doctors here will, of course, help you. But revising a poor cosmetic result is a different story. Revision surgeries are difficult, surgeons are not keen to inherit another surgeon’s shoddy work, and the bottom line is that some mistakes simply can’t be fixed well.
  5. If you suffer harm as a result of a procedure in a foreign country, it is very unlikely you will succeed in obtaining any financial compensation. There are many fine plastic surgeons right here in Toronto, and most of us are pretty reasonable in our pricing. There are services such as Medicard and Credit Medical that can further help make surgery affordable by providing for payment over time. When it comes to surgery, don’t sacrifice safety for the sake of cost.

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