The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons today urged caution for patients considering plastic surgery holiday packages, which generally involve having cosmetic procedures performed abroad.
Many of these vacations are advertised in women`s magazines, and offer cheap plastic surgery performed over a holiday in Eastern Europe or Africa. Patients are usually seen in London by an agent, often in a hotel room, and are then escorted on their trip.
According to Norman Waterhouse, consultant plastic surgeon and President of the BAAPS;
"In these cases, patients usually have no knowledge of the competence and experience of the surgeon, and there is very little prospect of follow-up care and advice. Best practice is compromised by the fact that patients are only meeting their surgeon immediately before a procedure - at which point generally they are committed to and have paid for the surgery. Patients then return to the UK without adequate medical records, if any."
The surgeons involved in these schemes do not have a work permit nor are registered in the UK, and it is unlikely there will be any solid framework for making complaints, or even seeking revisional surgery.
According to Douglas McGeorge, Consultant Plastic Surgeon and BAAPS Council Member;
"As a surgeon I frown on holiday surgery and am amazed that people go for these so-called deals. Usually counselling for the patient is inadequate, they have no idea of the standards of care in the country they are visiting and no knowledge of the abilities or experience of the surgeon. Follow-up is difficult. Complications do occur and are usually left to the British system to pick up."
Mr. McGeorge has counselled two patients for abdominoplasty who went to Eastern Europe for treatment. They came back with wound breakdown and were upset ? the standard of surgery that had been performed was poor and the hospitals were deemed `awful`.
According to Adriaan Grobbelaar, Consultant Plastic Surgeon and BAAPS member;
"Cheap can be expensive ? if patients need things put right, or are worried and need a follow up consultation they may have to fly back. That additional cost can wipe out the original saving. Alternatively they may have to pay a surgeon in the UK to review the procedure or the NHS gets burdened with it. It will also be difficult to hold the surgeon accountable long distance."
"People seem to forget that during the recovery period, nobody feels like a holiday."