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Medical Tourism: A Risky Endeavor

Written by Dr. Sean Maguire on June 26, 2015

Medical tourism, the practice of traveling to another country to receive medical care or plastic surgery, is an increasingly popular option, especially during the summer when many people take vacation. Cheaper treatment costs and a tropical destination can be alluring. However, are the rewards worth the risk? Dr. Sean Maguire of Physician’s Center for Beauty is wary. Here’s why.

Unregulated Medical Care

The regulations of the American medical system are set in place to protect you. Physicians must go through in-depth training and prove their qualifications to receive their license to practice medicine. Plastic surgeons must pass rigorous exams testing their knowledge and skill to receive board certification. Facilities must be up to code in terms of sanitation, safety and staffing to earn accreditation. However, other countries are not subject to the same stringent regulations, making medical tourism a “buyer beware” marketplace.

The Reality of Recovery

You might imagine recovering on a tropical beach, or strolling around a quaint town while your body heals from surgery. Truthfully, you won’t be able to enjoy your vacation during recovery. In fact, it’s more likely you will be confined to an unfamiliar hotel room or recovery suite, unable to appreciate your surroundings. By the time your energy levels return to normal, it may be time to get on a plane to return home.

It’s also important to understand that a foreign plastic surgeon cannot monitor your long-term care once you return home. Should you encounter a post-operative complication, you will be on your own and will have to find a domestic surgeon to take over your care.

Potential Barriers to Communication

Clear, open communication between doctor and patient is critical to a successful treatment outcome and a positive surgical experience. If you don’t speak the language of the country you are visiting, and the doctor and staff are not fluent in English, possible barriers to communication arise. You could misunderstand crucial pre-operative instructions, or be unable to describe a troubling post-operative symptom or side effect.


Potential complications of surgery should always be considered. Having cosmetic surgery is not entirely without risk. Problems with surgery do sometimes arise and dealing appropriately with those problems is critical. Having surgery in a foreign country without proper follow up can be risky. Dr. Maguire has personally dealt with a number of serious complications of surgery done abroad. These have included infections, wound healing problems, unsightly scars and poor cosmetic results.

Board Certification Is Critical

Certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery is non-negotiable when selecting the surgeon to perform your cosmetic procedure. There is always some degree of risk involved in any surgical procedure, but a board certified plastic surgeon significantly reduces these risks. Without American board certification, you simply cannot be sure of the surgeon’s qualifications.

Safe, Affordable Plastic Surgery Close to Home

You don’t need to travel to achieve the cosmetic results you desire. Dr. Sean Maguire provides exceptional plastic surgery results and patient care at a competitive price. To schedule a consultation and meet Dr. Maguire to discuss your treatment options, please call (502) 897-7546 today.

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