Dying for a cheap deal – The dangers of cosmetic surgery tourism

By Mr Jonathan Staiano Consultant Plastic Surgeon BSc, MBBS, MSc, FRCS(Eng), FRCS(Plast) Specialties: Plastic, Reconstructive and Cosmetic Surgery Hospital: BMI The Priory Hospital, Birmingham and BMI Droitwich Spa Hospital Every year, cosmetic surgery ‘tourists’ return to the UK with botched operations.  Some even pay with their lives. It must have seemed too tempting to miss: the chance to receive some cosmetic surgery at a cheap price – and have a break in the vibrant city of Philadelphia as part of the bargain. Tragically, for 20 year old Londoner Claudia Aderotimi, a wannabe hip-hop star, it was to be the last decision she made.  The ‘treatment’ – an injection of what was believed to be silicone as part of a buttock curving procedure, and applied in a hotel room – was to cost her life.  Within hours she was being admitted to hospital complaining of chest pains, and later died. US and UK authorities have banned the injection of liquid silicone or silicone gel to fill wrinkles or augment tissues anywhere in the body.  In fact a leading UK consultant says “such a procedure could only have been carried out by “cowboys”. The cowboys are making a good living and exacting a terrible price.  In a survey 26% of UK cosmetic surgeons said they had seen an increase in the amount of patients who had experienced complications after cosmetic surgery ‘holidays’.

False economy

Mr Jonathan Staiano, a Consultant Cosmetic Surgeon at BMI, says: “The inducement to have your cosmetic surgery somewhere sunny, and combine it with a holiday has several flaws.” Although some treatment abroad may be good or even excellent, he states that “the training in the UK is first class and patients don’t realise that overseas surgeons are often trained to a much lower level of competency”. He also adds that travel is itself an added risk.  “One of the potential complications of any surgery is the possibility of clots forming in the legs (DVT) – deep vein thrombosis due to the immobility.  Air travel adds to this risk (so-called ‘economy class syndrome’) and should be avoided.  This is highlighted by the case of the wife or R&B singer, Usher.  In 2009, she flew to Brazil shortly after giving birth to their second son and suffered a cardiac arrest while under anaesthetic for liposuction.  She had multiplied her chances of having a complication by having surgery recently after having a child, and from the flight.”

Do your research first

The NHS advice is clear: if you are considering cosmetic surgery abroad, find out as much as possible about the procedure, the surgeon, the benefits and the risks.  Aftercare is also critical: for example, does your overseas clinic have someone for you to turn to in the UK?  You should also be very clear about insurance.  Are you comprehensively covered by the clinic or doctor? Naturally, Mr Staiano is a firm advocate of cosmetic surgery in the UK.  He says: “Every cosmetic surgeon in the UK must be registered with the General Medical Council.  Another factor that helps to determine a plastic surgeon’s credibility is their membership in a professional organisation.  There are two main organisations in the UK: the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS) and the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS).  This gives you immediate reassurance about qualifications and accountability in BMI hospitals you are also assured high standards of safety and cleanliness, top quality food and hospitality, and a calm and caring environment designed for the best possible experience.” When it comes to cosmetic surgery, there’s no place like home. “The inducement to have cosmetic surgery somewhere sunny, and combine it with a holiday has several flaws”

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