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Board Certifications: American Board of Facial Plastic and
Reconstructive Surgery American Board of Otolaryngology - ABO

Why You Should Not Consider Getting Rhinoplasty Overseas

Fly to an exotic location to have your surgery…sit on a beach afterwards and soak up some sun… thousands of patients do it each year! Sounds great, right? Hold on… Not so fast.

While it may sound enticing, “medical tourism,” or traveling abroad for medical and or surgical care, is a risky and potentially dangerous proposition. From different laws and possible cultural misunderstandings to potential medical complications and many other factors, there are simply too many variables and much unpredictability involved. To put it bluntly, there are very few surgeons in their right minds who would advise you to go over seas and have your rhinoplasty surgery abroad.

The Dangers of Medical Tourism

Most patients who have plastic surgery outside of the continental United States opt to do so because they think it will cost less money. In many cases, this is true. However, there are a number factors that can offset the reduced price tag. The expense of travel and lodging alone begin to eat into the savings. In addition, should you need to seek follow-up care or assistance with a plastic surgeon once you return to the United States, you may be surprised at how pricey it is. Many surgeons consider any new patient to be just that – a new case – and therefore charge accordingly; in other words, you won’t receive a reduced fee for their services just because it is “follow-up” care.

But more importantly, the quality of care you receive outside of the United States may be compromised. This is not to say that there are not talented surgeons everywhere. But how will you assess this? And what about the support staff? Are they all as well-trained and credentialed as the support staff of the average U.S. facial plastic surgeon? In many cases they are not, and your ability to judge this as well as the facilities and equipment to be used in your procedure before traveling abroad for your procedure is likely limited.

Potential complications are perhaps the most important reason to avoid having plastic surgery overseas. Complications commonly associated with having plastic surgery abroad include infection, hematoma and contour abnormalities. There are also potentially life-threatening complications associated with traveling long distances; namely, pulmonary embolisms and deep vein thrombosis (blood clots). What will happen if you encounter such complications?

Another factor to consider is the fact that perceptions of beauty vary by culture and country. As a result, your foreign-based surgeon may have a different vision of a great nose job from the vision you have.

Handling Complications Overseas

An important factor to consider before opting to have plastic surgery abroad is how you will handle any complications of the procedure that may arise. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question. It all depends on what the complications are and on your access to top-notch care.

If your condition is serious, you may have no choice but to stay put until you have stabilized and it is safe to travel home. In life-threatening cases, you may even be forced consider arranging to be medi-vac’d home, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

If you are in a country with state-of-the-art facilities, it may be acceptable to have your plastic surgeon monitor your progress until it is advisable to travel back to the U.S. But when you get back, you will likely need to meet with a plastic surgeon immediately to assess your condition and address it as needed. Again, it all depends on where you have your surgery and on your specific situation.

Undergoing Revision Rhinoplasty Back in the United States

Unfortunately, many patients who have rhinoplasty abroad end up needing a second procedure to address complications or unsatisfactory results from the original procedure. This is known as revision rhinoplasty.

If you experience complications while abroad, it is imperative that you see a qualified facial plastic surgeon as soon as you get back, as some complications may require immediate attention.

If, however, you are simply unsatisfied with your results, take your time and locate a highly qualified rhinoplasty specialist. Here are some of the factors you should look for in a revision rhinoplasty surgeon:

  • Proven skill and results
  • Extensive experience
  • Board certification in facial plastic surgery
  • Advanced facilities, equipment and instruments
  • Experience with revision rhinoplasty procedures

Double board certified facial plastic surgeon Sam Rizk, MD, FACS is one such surgeon, and this is why so many patients turn to him for their revision rhinoplasty procedures. His revision rhinoplasty clientele includes not just Americans who have undergone primary rhinoplasty abroad, but also many foreigners who seek his services after realizing that the best care and service is to be found in the U.S. In fact, patients traveling from overseas make up 20 to 30 percent of his overall clientele. Many of these patients come from Asia, Latin America and the Middle East due to the fact that Dr. Rizk is an expert in ethnic rhinoplasty.

You Get What You Pay For

By deciding to travel abroad for rhinoplasty, you are literally taking your life into your own hands. As if the risk of complications and extra costs weren’t enough, consider the fact that even the best rhinoplasty specialists in the U.S. have revision rates of 5 to 15 percent. In other countries where rhinoplasty costs less, these numbers are typically much higher. In the end, you get what you pay for, so do the smart thing: Choose a highly qualified U.S.-based rhinoplasty specialist for your surgery.

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