Cosmetic tourism is a booming business and very tempting for those who want a boob job while saving a few bob.
After all, what could be more rejuvenating than recuperating from surgery being waited on hand and foot in an idyllic health spa in paradise, counting change to spare for silverware from what you would have paid at any first world medical facility?
All except for the concern that the risk of complications from any procedures in countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, Tunisia or Mexico are far greater than in Australia, the United States or Britain and the bills can quickly start mounting rapidly if there are any recurring issues.
This was certainly the misfortune suffered by Carolyn, a 25-year-old hairdresser from the Gold Coast, who saved for years and finally celebrated as she flew to Thailand for a breast enhancement and lift and a tummy tuck that cost $15,000 – a $35,000 saving from having the procedure done in Australia.
The problems began on her return home when she developed an infection that has left her with both physical and emotional scars and in desperate need of revision surgery. The problem is she now cannot afford corrective medical treatment and has little chance of recovering any of the funds she spent in Thailand.
In a desperate cry for help, Carolyn contacted Millner and Knight to see what recourse she might have after her efforts to contact the surgeons in Thailand who had performed the operation fell on deaf ears.
Subsequently, Carolyn was told by one of our panel negligence specialists that If she chose to take legal action, she ran the risk of having to pay her own legal fees and those of the defendant.
As a foreigner who had been visiting Thailand, her legal right to redress was slim and unlikely to succeed in a Bangkok court against a Thai citizen.
Her best option now would be to start a crowdfunding campaign for corrective surgery in Australia, as people tend to be sympathetic towards those who had suffered hardship even if it was caused by their own naiveté.
Carolyn may have been unlucky because others have returned home delighted with the outcome of cosmetic surgeries abroad with an added spring in the step from the jingle in their pocket.
Carolyn, by contrast, has had to give up on saving enough money for the stamp duty and deposit to buy her first home and instead faces years of belt-tightening to raise the funds for her treatment. She said the medical fallout had created other unintended consequences as she was more reluctant to have physical intimacy with a partner after the operation.
The cost of aesthetic reconstructive surgery can be up to three times as expensive as the original operation, but stories like Carolyn’s are not deterring the 15,000 estimated Australians who travel abroad every year for cosmetic surgery and spend $300million in countries such as Thailand and Malaysia.
Cosmetic surgery is similarly booming in places like Spain, Czechoslovakia, Poland and even Tunisia. Californians eager to avoid the type of tabs that helped bankrupt Michael Jackson and assist Beverley Hills surgeons’ Porsche payments, tend to look south of the border for margaritas and cut-price deals.
Rather pay extra and have the job done in Australia, secure in the safety net of a first world legal system that will give you legal avenues to seeking compensation through the courts if there are any complications.
However, if you’re still prepared to take the risk and travel overseas for treatment, there are a few golden rules to follow that might help reduce the chances of heartache.
- Do your research on the clinic and try and contact other people who had treatment there for references.
- Don’t just rely on comments posted on the internet which can easily be fabricated. If you can locate previous patients, try and speak to them personally about their experiences of the medical facility and the country you intend visiting.
- Ask the clinic which surgeon will be performing the procedure. Then do your research on this doctor, if necessary contact the Australian embassy in the country you have chosen. They may be able to refer you to an Australian physician working in the country whose knowledge could prove to be priceless.
- And finally, see a specialist in Australia for a consultation, even if you have no intention of using Australian-based surgeons. The money you spend on a half-an-hour session of enlightenment could just prove to be the difference between ending up like Carolyn or strutting your stuff with confidence.
Millner and Knight
Millner and Knight cares about the wellbeing of anyone who has been injured due to someone else’s negligence. If you or someone you love has been affected, Millner and Knights’ team of medical negligence experts can make it right.