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Medical tourism complications rise

Article-Medical tourism complications rise

New York — Surgeons are reporting an increase in the number of medical “tourists” presenting with complications, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS).

Despite the increasing number of patients traveling abroad for less-costly surgeries, little data is reported on outcomes, follow-up or complication rates, the ASAPS notes. In response, researchers at Nassau University Medical Center in New York conducted a survey, and results were published in the August issue of the Aesthetic Surgery Journal.

The survey polled 2,000 members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) about their experience with medical tourism patients. More than 80 percent of the 368 respondents said they had treated patients who had traveled abroad for cosmetic procedures, and more than half (51.6 percent) reported an increase over the past five years in the number of such patients presenting with complications. The majority of patients had undergone either breast augmentation or body contouring procedures, and more than half required multiple operations to correct complications. The greatest portion of complications (31 percent) resulted from infection.

Other common complications were dehiscence, contour abnormality and hematoma.

The ASAPS statement quotes Aesthetic Surgery Journal Editor-in-Chief Foad Nahai, M.D., as saying, “This survey clearly shows the dangers of medical tourism and implies the need to strengthen awareness for patients, physicians and policy makers. I encourage all plastic surgeons who encounter patients considering surgery abroad to offer them a copy of guidelines on this topic from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery or ASPS.”

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