What are the risks of undergoing breast augmentation overseas?
Many patients do travel overseas for surgery. In general, I wouldn't advise it if there are capable surgeons in your own country.
I do understand that Singapore is quite expensive for many cosmetic procedures. Part of the reason it is expensive is for patients' safety.
Invasive procedures must be done in a licensed facility, these facilities will have adequate emergency equipment in the event something goes wrong. In cases where you require sedation or general anaesthesia, a qualified anaesthetist will be the one doing that and you will be the only patient they attend to for the entire case. In other countries, one anaesthetist could be overseeing 4 patients at a time while they are under general anaesthesia.
Implants is another component of the cost. The cost of implants in Singapore is higher than our regional neighbours. I don't know the reason for this, but there is quite a big difference.
Surgeon fee is another component of the total cost. In my practice I do try to keep my fee competitive and will try to help my patients as much as possible, but sometimes we can't compete on price with our regional neighbours. What we do offer is safety and certified training.
The main problem with having surgery overseas is the inconvenience of treating any complications if they do occur. Complications can happen to any surgeon, it's a lot less stressful for the patient if they can be handled in their own country with the support of their family and friends.
My advice is to calculate a reasonable budget for the surgery (taking into account travel expenses etc) and try to find a surgeon locally that can help you (you can probably email them to discuss your case prior to consultation).
There are several considerations that you should make before you decide to have your breast augmentation overseas.
Depending on where you go for your surgery, language may be a barrier and you may have to communicate with your doctor through an interpreter and precious information may be lost in translation.
It is not uncommon now for concierge to arrange for group trips to overseas clinics for surgery. Part of the fees are often collected as a deposit and to save time and costs, the consultation is often done via email or video conference. During the actual pre-consultation, you may realise that you are not entitled to the full spectrum of choices and may have to compromise for a decision which you made without all the available information.
It is not uncommon that patients returning from overseas surgeries tell me that the surgeon’s qualifications are less than clear or they are not sure if they have been operated by a plastic surgeon. I have also seen people having consulted with a particular plastic surgeon, and then finding out that the surgery was performed by someone completely different.
Quality of breast implants.
Breast implants can last for a long time and stringent manufacturing and standards are of utmost importance. In Singapore, such standards are upkept by HSA, and all implants have to meet these stringent standards before they are registered for use. The PIP Breast Implant experience in France further stresses on the importance of getting the correct, and certified implants. We have seen patients who were promised certain implants but upon implant explant, the implant was one of a lower standard. In certain cases, no implant was used, and instead they had free silicone injected into the breast.
Few patients realise that the surgery is but the first step of the plastic surgery journey. In the early post-operative period, you will need someone to look after your surgical wounds and to prevent wound infection or wound dehiscence. In the longer term, follow up of your breast implants and screening for other breast diseases is an equally important part of the surgery. If you had surgery done overseas, you will either need to return for follow-up or engage a doctor in Singapore to follow you up. It is always best to follow-up with your original surgeon as only he will understand the anatomy and the steps performed during the first operation.
Complications and revision surgery.
Unfortunately, all surgery is not without risks, and complications can occur. The prices quoted do not cater for any complications, and I have seen patients who have to return to Singapore to deal with their complication.
Occasionally, you may also need some revision work done for your breast augmentation. If you had the surgery performed in Singapore, most of the surgeons would perform the revision work at a minimal cost. However, if your primary surgeon is overseas, then the fees for revision surgery will often be more costly than even the primary surgery as it would be technically more challenging, and your surgeon would also not have information on what was done.
Hence, whilst pursuing breast augmentation or plastic surgery overseas may seem to be an initial cheap option, it may ultimately end up as a far more costly, time-consuming, and stressful alternative.
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