Dr. Joseph M. Perlman Advanced Plastic Surgery Centre

We’ve previously discussed medical tourism and how it is rapidly becoming a very popular endeavor. According to Deloitte, 750,000 US citizens traveled abroad for medical care in 2007 and 400,000 people came to the US for care. Both of these numbers are expecting to increase significantly.

Patients seek healthcare options when local care does not meet their needs. These may be a financial issue, a quality of care issue or an accessibility issue. For most Americans going overseas it is a financial issue. Not only are cosmetic procedures less expensive but also reconstructive procedures such as joint replacement surgery, cardiac surgery, and fertility surgery. Healthcare insurance companies in the US are even encouraging their patients to have procedures done overseas where they are less expensive.

Countries such as Canada and the UK, which have accessibility issues due to socialized medicine, traveling to the US which is known as having the best care healthcare, is an important destination. So are other countries that have US-trained physicians and first-rate facilities. Patients in countries that don’t have first-rate healthcare facilities will often seek healthcare in the US.

The big concern for patients seeking overseas medical care is finding a quality facility with a quality healthcare provider in a country that is also safe to travel to. An organization called the World Medical Tourism Association is an organization that seeks to promote affordable quality healthcare and helps arrange for patients these services. They screen healthcare providers and facilities both domestically and in foreign countries. They also facilitate travel arrangements and postoperative care once they return to their home country. One of these companies is MedVoy, based in Denver and run by a physician will who is a professor at the University Colorado.

I have seen patients in my practice who have had cosmetic procedures done in foreign countries. Some of the results have been quite good, but some have had poor results. The problem with going overseas is that patients have no recourse and that secondary reconstructive work done once the patient returns here could end up costing more than the initial surgery would’ve cost of the would’ve been done here.

If a patient is contemplating overseas surgery, they should thoroughly investigate the process, consult the Medical Tourism Association, and be fully aware of the risks and benefits involved.