Medical Tourism

The concept of medical tourism is not a new one, but dates back thousands of years to when Greek pilgrims traveled from all over the Mediterranean to the small territory in the Saronic Gulf called Epidauria, the territory of the healing god Asklepios. Epidauria became the original travel destination for medical tourism.  Subsequently, spa towns and sanitariums emerged.  

Medical Tourism

A large draw to current medical travel is accessibility, convenience, affordability and ease of international travel. In 2009, an estimated 600,000 Americans traveled abroad for plastic surgery.   Popular cosmetic surgery travel destinations include: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico and Turkey.  Not surprisingly, the United States heads the list of popular sites for health tourism, and generates $5.5 billion annually.  Brazil is in second position. Europe as a whole, is listed third.  Dr. Orhan Murat Özdemir, a plastic surgeon in Turkey states that “Nearly 350,000 people visit Turkey annually to receive treatment and spend nearly $20 million dollars. In Turkey, dental aesthetics in particular, bring a consumer cost advantage in excess of 50% savings over the US and the rest of Europe.”

But, medical tourism carries several risks.  Infectious disease may be acquired when there is exposure to pathogens without having built up natural immunity.  In addition, misdiagnoses in the homeland may be frequent because diseases acquired on foreign soil are perceived to be “rare.” Hospitals and doctors may not be accredited to US, UK or Canadian standards. Long distance travel home soon after surgery can increase the risk of complications as can vacation activities such as strenuous exercise, sun exposure, alcohol consumption and lifting heavy luggage.  Surgical complications may not be adequately addressed in countries with unfamiliar legal systems and hospitals and/or doctors may be unable to pay for financial damages.  In an extreme situation, the cost of a medical air “ambulance” home can cost more than the list price of a new car.  So, consumer beware of a false surgical economy!  You may be lucky to get what you pay for!

When traveling abroad, consider purchasing medical travel insurance from MedJet Assist and “take trips, not chances”.  1.800.527.7478

Identifying Body Dysmorphic Disorder: Who “Nose”?

Rhinoplasty or nose job surgery is not only one of the most difficult facial plastic surgeries to perform, but the results can also change a person’s appearance the most drastically. Of course, many who seek this plastic surgery procedure desire exactly that–but a new study reveals that 33% of patients considering cosmetic nose job surgery show symptoms of a chronic condition called body dysmorphic disorder (BDD).

p4BDD is a type of mental illness in which negative thoughts of body image overwhelm someone to the point that it negatively affects his or her life, getting in the way of healthy relationships, careers, and socializing. The disorder can lead to suicidal thoughts, eating disorders, depression, anxiety and — as seen in this study — unnecessary cosmetic surgery.

Because the rate of BDD is so high in rhinoplasty patients (and even higher in those patients who have already had a nose job previously),  it is especially important for the doctor to take a detailed psychological evaluation during the consultation to make sure that the patient is mentally healthy before authorizing this plastic surgery procedure. Rhinoplasty is a team approach: you, the patient, have to come in with realistic expectations and sound motivation, and I, the facial plastic surgeon, will provide noticeable and natural results.