31 May 2022

‘Budget bodies’ warning for brits seeking surgery abroad: The ‘red flags’ that could save mishaps

The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) recently revealed a 44% rise in botched cosmetic surgery cases carried out abroad.

And, as the British public’s appetite for ‘tweakments’ and cosmetic surgery continues to grow, but budgets tighten, many are increasingly looking to cheaper ways to achieve their dream body – including surgery overseas. The results can potentially be disastrous, as Transform has warned.

The organisation has found that online searches for ‘cosmetic surgery in Turkey’ increased by almost one third between March 2021 and March 2022, an indication that Brits are increasingly heading abroad in search of a ‘budget body’ with potentially less reputable providers.

And, as travel opens back up following the pandemic, and people look to tighten their belts as the cost of living increases, less expensive procedures abroad could appear the more attractive option, as well as being efficient through combining a holiday with a ‘transformation’. 

But the experts at Transform have highlighted the importance of selecting responsible practitioners and ensuring suitable all-important aftercare is at hand, while warning of the ‘red flags’ that could spell danger when it comes to booking treatments and surgery, both at home and overseas.  

Celebrity inspiration  

Transform has itself noticed an increase in enquiries for procedures – including revisions resulting from issues and complications from surgeries carried out at the hands of less reputable providers, or due to a lack of proper aftercare.

Demand for procedures is often fuelled by celebrities sharing results of their own experiences on Instagram, but Clinical Services Director Christine Mozzamdar advises caution in considering the risks associated with any type of surgery through thorough research.

She said: “There’s a bit of a ‘perfect storm’ at the moment when it comes to cosmetic interventions. Despite the so-called ‘Zoom Boom’ experienced at the height of the pandemic lessening, we’re seeing steady uplift in the number of enquiries we’re receiving. However, as well as patients seeking new procedures, those enquiries include individuals who are experiencing complications or issues following surgery carried out by less reputable providers, both at home and abroad.

“It’s particularly prevalent with those who travel overseas for surgery, not least because they don’t have access to the same level of aftercare once they travel home. Different countries require practitioners and surgeons to have varying levels of qualifications, or have different regulatory processes in place, so standards can vary wildly.”

Christine continued: “Many patients we see are inspired by images of celebrities and influencers, and that’s often the case for those travelling abroad and using other providers. And while the vast majority of these famous patients have amazing experiences and showcase fantastic results, you don’t have to look too far to find a cautionary tale or two, like Anna and her sister.

“As a responsible provider, we think it’s vital that anyone considering cosmetic intervention knows the key ‘dos and don’ts’ when it comes to undergoing surgery – whether it’s breast augmentation, a tummy tuck, or a bariatric procedure. The same rules apply no matter how invasive or minor the surgery may seem. And it’s so important that the procedure is right for, and tailored to, you – not based on a celebrity look.”

Top tips and ‘red flags’

Here, Christine shares key tips on researching the best provider, as well as the ‘red flags’ to steer clear of.

Check surgery is right for you

“Before you even get into selecting a provider, you should do some thorough background research on the procedure you think you want to have. I use that turn of phrase because it may turn out that the result you want can be achieved with an alternative procedure that’s less invasive, or indeed may require a combination of different procedures – for example, you may need a breast augmentation plus a breast lift to get the look you want. 

“Look at testimonials online, speak to people who have undergone treatment if you can – the more information you can gather about what’s involved, the better armed you’ll be going into the next phase of your research.”

Set your standards

“Each country sets its own standards for hospitals and clinics – from staff qualifications to operating theatre cleanliness. Standards in the UK are very rigorous, so those providers who follow them to the letter offer an overall safer environment and better experience. Checking adherence to these standards is vital as part of your research if you’ve decided surgery is something you want to commit to.

“Providers falling short of regulatory standards puts you at a greater risk of infection, poor results and even complications they’re not equipped to treat. If you look closer to home, you can take the opportunity to physically vet the environment, meet your surgeon and ask for proof that everything is as it should be.”

Cheaper isn’t better

“If the price looks too good to be true, it probably is. Cosmetic surgery isn’t cheap – it’s an investment in yourself and has a lasting impact on your body. Many reputable providers will offer varying payment options to prevent patients looking for cheaper alternatives that more often than not fall short of the standards required.

“Surgery abroad is often seen as a more affordable alternative. However, not only do you have to consider additional costs on top of the procedure itself – including flights, accommodation and suitable insurance – you also have to factor in potential additional costs on your return home. For instance, anything to aid your recovery or in a worst case scenario, to pay for any revisions should there be complications or issues following your surgery. Even ‘packages’ that are offered for travelling abroad may have hidden costs – or simply do not cover everything you need.

“You may pay a premium for a reputable provider on home soil, but you can be more confident you’ll receive the best standard of care from consultation to procedure and beyond. You’ll also find that, more often than not, payment plans are available to assist with varying budgets.”

No such thing as a silly question

“Your initial enquiry and consultation periods are your opportunity to find out as much as you can about your possible procedure, the hospital or clinic in which it will take place, and your surgeon. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, no matter how trivial they may seem. Our teams have been asked all manner of questions – and any provider with a decent reputation should be able to answer anything you ask.

“That includes asking your surgeon about their qualifications and experience, and potentially asking to see the surgical environment or be talked through the procedure.”

Avoid the hard sell

“If at any point you feel pressured into going ahead with a surgery after an initial enquiry or consultation, you’re not dealing with someone who has your best interests at heart. Following a thorough consultation and consent process, and before proceeding with any cosmetic intervention, a cooling off period has to be built in. This gives potential patients time to assess everything they’ve learned during the consultation process and to ensure that surgery is right for them. It’s a big decision, and not one that should be made lightly – especially not under pressure from your provider.”

Honesty is the best policy

“Reputable providers will be honest and up front about potential complications and the risks involved in undergoing cosmetic surgery. This isn’t designed to scare you, but to prepare you for all eventualities, no matter how small that risk may be. If you’re liaising with someone who glosses over the small print and bats away any mention of risks by saying how small they are, perhaps it’s best to take a step back.

“A provider may also inform you that they think surgery isn’t right for you. We have a duty of care to ensure anyone entering into surgery does so in the right state of mind and for the right reasons. Being told a procedure isn’t suitable shouldn’t be a signal to jump on a plane to have the surgery anyway, but a sign to really consider whether it’s the right thing for you at that point in time.”

Aftercare shouldn’t be an afterthought

“Potentially more vital than the surgery itself, access to high quality aftercare is something you should expect from any cosmetic surgery provider you select. It’s also one of the biggest reasons to avoid going abroad for surgery.

“Recovery can be a slow process, and you may need access to aftercare for some months after your surgery. It’s much easier to access in person if your provider is closer to home. We’re seeing increasing numbers of patients coming to us for revisions and corrections following surgery abroad – which they simply cannot access because it hasn’t been made available by the very companies who were more than happy to take payment and carry out the procedure in the first place.”


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