Cosmetic surgery abroad under fire in the UK press

The growth of medical tourism is attracting more and more attention to issues such as quality of treatment, accreditation of surgeons and dentists, hospitals and clinics.

The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons this week launched an attack on “botched cosmetic work” carried out by surgeons overseas, based on a “study” of 36 UK plastic surgeons who reported having to correct surgery carried out abroad. The “study” resulted in headlines such as these:

Recently, dental tourism was also criticised, by the British Dental Health Foundation, resulting in headlines such as this: have to bear in mind the motives of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons and other professional associations in publicising such issues. They and their PR agencies represent the interests of UK surgeons, dentists and medical professionals. It's bad for business if people start travelling for treatment!

Let's take the "dodgy dentist story". The British Dental Health Foundation reported there has been "a significant increase in calls to its helpline from people who have had bad experiences of dental tourism". In fact, they receive around 40 calls per month about medical tourism out of 3,500 calls in total. Of the 40 calls, 5 are from patients reporting problems or who are unhappy with their treatment. And given the growth of medical tourism, you might expect an increase....

The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons story is based on a study of 36 members.

"Half the surgeons who took part in a survey have seen at least “a little more” repair work than last year, while a third have seen “much more” repair work as increasing numbers of Britons opt for cheap surgery abroad"

Given that the number of UK cosmetic surgery procedures rose by 40% last year and medical tourism based cosmetic surgery probably rose by around 100%, you might expect there to be more problems seen?

At Treatment Abroad, we are pursuing several initiatives to counter such criticisms and promote the concept of medical tourism. Our current survey of medical tourist experiences of treatment abroad is one of these initiatives.

Another initiative is the development of a “Code of Practice for Medical Tourism”. You can find out more about what we are trying to achieve on the Code of Practice page on Treatment Abroad.