Travelling the world in the pursuit of perfection

14 November 2014

sunsetBy Plastic Surgeon Dr Dirk Kremer

Over the last few months, I've written about a variety of worrying trends in the plastic surgery industry, ranging from having cosmetic surgery to look like a celebrity, to undergoing an aesthetic procedure to achieve the perfect selfie. There have always been trends in the industry, but the number is steadily increasing thanks to advancements in technology and the growing popularity of plastic surgery. Unfortunately, the growing popularity of cosmetic surgery and advancements in technology are encouraging some people to undergo extreme surgeries, which is resulting in a significant amount of negative press for the industry.

Throughout 2014, the mainstream media have been relentless in their coverage of extreme plastic surgery procedures, and rightly so; the number of people undergoing procedures that are unnecessary and therefore dangerous is rising. However, blame can't solely be placed on the patients: plastic surgeons also need to be held accountable for these surgeries, as no patient can permanently transform themselves into a celebrity lookalike without professional help, and it is the surgeons in pursuit of money or fame that perform these procedures that I am most concerned with. A larger number of patients are turning to plastic surgeons abroad in pursuit of cheap and sometimes illegal surgical procedures, fuelling a worrying growth in what is now labelled as the medical tourism industry.

Competing for plastic surgery?

Perhaps one of the most shocking stories of 2014 so far was that of an extreme makeover competition in Thailand. The competition, run by the country's tourism authority, offered non-Thai women aged 25-45 the chance to win a facelift procedure worth £5,000 as a way of boosting the country's flagging tourism industry. To win the competition, women had to submit their personal details along with a medical certificate to prove they were healthy, photos of their faces from different angles, and entrants also had to explain to a panel of judges why they deserved the facelift procedure. The three finalists then had to agree to have their surgeries and subsequent recoveries filmed and uploaded to the website to showcase the results.

I'm not an expert in tourism, but I believe offering a facelift as a competition prize is neither a suitable nor an ethical way of boosting the number of tourists who visit a country. There are certainly no moral grounds for it, and we can only believe the plastic surgeon(s) operating on the patients are in it for financial gain or notoriety, as ethically, the Hippocratic Oath that all doctors take should prevent them from performing plastic surgery for the wrong reasons!

Dangers of cosmetic surgery abroad

Recent research from found that the number of British people jetting off around the world, enticed by cheaper prices for cosmetic procedures, has increased by 109% in the last 2 years. The report noted that, as an example, the average price for an aesthetic procedure in the Czech Republic is around £847, compared to £3,557 in the UK. However, as the saying goes: you get what you pay for. Therefore, it's not surprising that the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) recorded a 25-35% increase over the past 5 years in the number of patients reporting complications after having cosmetic surgery abroad.

I would always advise people considering plastic surgery abroad to do their research first - many countries don't have the same tight medical regulations as the UK does and, as a result, these people are opening themselves up to illegal procedures and substances that can cause serious complications further down the line. A quick search through news outlets shows the devastating results of cheap plastic surgery abroad; one article reports on a pensioner who was left scarred for life due to a botched facelift, while another reports on the woman whose breast augmentation procedure left her with ' exploding boobs' as the implants were too big and not properly inserted.

However, not every plastic surgeon abroad is looking for financial gain, and there are plenty of ethical, qualified cosmetic surgeons who share the same morals as myself. My advice for anyone thinking of choosing to undergo plastic surgery abroad is to do your research first, because not only will botched cosmetic surgery cost you more financially in the long run, it could also cost you your life. If you're interested in any of the cosmetic procedures offered here at Harley St Aesthetics, please contact my team today to arrange an initial consultation.


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