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Why travelling abroad for cosmetic surgery is just not worth the risk

There has been a growing trend of Brits travelling abroad for elective cosmetic surgery procedures, with 12,000 trips taken to Turkey for treatment in 2022.

Tagged: News

Date: 28th April 2023

Medically Reviewed by:  Mr. Bryan Mayou (GMC: 1414396)

Last reviewed: 13th January 2024

There has been a growing trend of Brits travelling abroad for elective cosmetic surgery procedures, with 12,000 trips taken to Turkey for treatment in 2022.

Many are tempted by the combination of low prices and the thought of escaping to sunnier climes for a few days. Reality TV stars openly talking about their experiences of this type of medical tourism has helped to normalise it.

But the reality is that cosmetic surgery abroad is a very risky business. At least 20 British people have died in Turkey after undergoing cosmetic surgery and correcting botched procedures has cost the NHS at least £5million in the last four years alone.

Often agents offer cosmetic surgery as part of a package deal which includes flights and accommodation, with money to be paid upfront. However, although this may sound like a great deal, it could end up costing you a lot more than you think.

Mr Bryan Mayou, founder and medical director of Cadogan Clinic, says: “People, when they set out on their trips abroad, think they are going to get a cheap option.

“They are not, considering all the hidden costs - costs of flights, unplanned extra extended stays in Turkey and then, once they get home, the huge cost to them not just financially but also in time while their problems are being sorted out. This could be for a few days, or many months or of course permanent deformity.”

In the UK, all private hospitals and clinics are regulated by the Healthcare Commission which ensures that standards of the facilities and care are high and inspected regularly. Clinics abroad often do not meet these high standards. Poorly regulated clinics and inexperienced practitioners can lead to poor quality surgery, substandard results and potentially life-long deformities and health conditions.

Clinic aftercare is also often not up to scratch, leading to complications such as infections, severe pain and wound healing problems once patients return home. This may lead to hospital treatment or corrective surgery. Airline flights can also increase the risk of deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in the legs) and pulmonary embolism (blood clots in the lungs). All this puts a huge strain on an already overstretched NHS and will cost a patient even more money if they pay privately for corrective surgery.

Mr Mayou says: “I think people should realise when they go abroad in nearly all these countries there is absolutely no regulation of the clinics providing the treatment. We (the UK) have a huge amount of regulation of the clinics and also of the surgeons.

“There's no such thing as appraisal in Turkey and sometimes people go thinking they are going to be operated on by a surgeon, but in fact it's a technician.”

Some of these clinics offer face-to-face consultations on British soil, or remotely via Zoom, Skype or similar. Here at the Cadogan Clinic, we support calls for regulation of this practice.

My Mayou added: “In summary, here at the Cadogan Clinic, we fully endorse the Royal College of Surgeons in saying that there should be more regulation of patients being consulted here, either remotely or in person, in preparation for transfer to other countries for cheap treatment.”

At the Cadogan Clinic we have some of the best surgeons in the UK and are committed to the wellbeing and aftercare of our patients. We would never recommend travelling abroad to somewhere like Turkey for cosmetic surgery or dental work. Although you may feel like you are getting a bargain, it is a decision that could ultimately cost you dearly.




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