We have started a new blog focus to highlight current events and topics in plastic surgery.  A recent article which captured our attention relates to a proposed surgical centre in an airport terminal in South Korea.  The goal was to promote plastic surgery tourism in this major centre of plastic surgery.  Patients would be able to travel from other countries to undergo surgery in the airport and then fly home afterwards.  The developers had even hoped that patients would be able to fit in treatments and procedures between flights.

The proposal was met with hesitation. The Korean Association of Plastic Surgeons had concerns regarding potential legal issues if patients missed their return flights due to medical delays. They hinted at concerns regarding patient well-being relating to decreased immunity and fatigue when flying that may negatively affect healing.

Flight scheduling concerns arise, we are strongly against plastic surgery tourism given risk of complications.  Even when performed in accredited facilities and patients are carefully selected, deemed healthy to undergo elective cosmetic surgery, there are risks associated with all cosmetic procedures.  Following plastic surgery, there is risk of healing complications, bleeding, and infection.  Systemic complications may also arise, including blood clots (DVT or pulmonary embolism).  The risk for developing blood clots may be increased if traveling long distances post-operatively.  If complications occur, who will manage these patients following plastic surgery tourism when back in their home countries?

It is important to remain in close proximity to your surgeon during early healing.  If complications arise, urgent reassessment may be scheduled without delay in management.  Outcomes may be compromised – both relating to the surgery itself and overall patient health – if performed in this type of setting.  Surgical tourism portrays plastic surgery as a minor procedure, giving patients the false assumption that it is more similar to a spa treatment than major surgery.

Many patients have asked in our practice if they may fly out of country following plastic surgery to recover in private in a resort setting.  We strongly recommend against traveling during early healing given similar risk of complications.  We occasionally have patients fly to Toronto from other provinces with fewer aesthetic surgeons to undergo plastic surgery.  We generally recommend staying in the Toronto area for at least a week post-operatively, sometimes longer depending on the specific type of surgery and patient factors.  Dr. Power will make specific recommendations in consultation and will advise if she does not think this arrangement is in the patient’s best interest.

While plastic surgery may be a powerful tool to achieve one’s aesthetic goals and to enhance self-confidence, it is elective surgery.  Patient safety is paramount.  Plastic surgery tourism is generally not recommended given risk of complications.

Please contact us if considering plastic surgery in the Toronto area to schedule a consultation with female plastic surgeon, Dr. Stephanie Power.