_It’s happening all around you! The people in the office are getting younger. Your neighbor is apparently 70 and looks more like 50. And let’s not get started on the fact that every time you open up a magazine you find at least a hundred hints or ads for some sort of over-the-counter or medical treatment to make you look and/or feel younger. Since the beginning of our existence humans have been looking for the fountain of youth and now we seem to be operating at hyper-speed.
Fortunately, modern medicine has been keeping pace with our fascination with youth. With the right treatment you can finally laugh at the time when you actually had laugh lines. But these treatments come at a price.
You’ve heard about people traveling for lower cost medical treatments. From popping over the boarder for lower priced medicine to flying to Thailand for a face-lift, the idea is more common than ever. And of course that comes with plenty of tantalizing stories about facelifts for US$2,000 to people injecting cooking oil instead of Botox. So what is true? What can you believe? And, if you’re considering traveling for a procedure what should you know? I recently sat down with a prominent New York City plastic surgeon, Dr. David Shafer, to discuss the medical travel business.
What is true?– The truth is that there are great doctors the world over. There are also terrible doctors the world over. No one country has 100% of the best (or worst) doctors. You can probably find very good and inexpensive cosmetic surgery just about everywhere. The problem is terms like "good" and "inexpensive" are relative.
What can you believe?A wise friend once told me to believe half of what you see and even less of what you read. But now in the age of information overload on the internet you can’t believe everything you read and even less of what you see. We’ve all read reviews that turn out to be written by the vendor or strategically placed by the PR team. And there’s no need to remind us how digitally altered media images are these days.
Here’s what you should know– If you are thinking of putting yourself under the knife you’ll want to do your research and get smart.
1. Know whom you are dealing with: Learn about your doctor (education, experience, certifications, outstanding litigations, reviews by previous clients) and where the treatment will take place (in the office or at the hospital). Will you be sedated? If so, who will be doing the anesthesia? Dr. Shafer recommends always having this done by a professional anesthesiologist so your doctor can focus on the surgery not the anesthesia. Every country has different regulations around doctors and surgery. Make sure you know the laws of the country where you are having the surgery and what the process is if you feel those laws have been broken.
2. Learn about the procedure: Understand how it works so you’ll understand why you are going to be sore in certain places. Find out if you are even a good candidate for the procedure. Dr. Shafer does global video interviews over Video Skype with prospective patients to make sure they are even a good candidate for the procedure. He’s also at the cutting edge of technology, having created two apps for people to learn more about the surgery. Shafer even developed a special website just for medical tourism in NYC. www.medicaltoursimnyc.com Click here to see his apps.
3. Recoup and regroup: Understand what the recovery is really going to include so you’ll have a realistic plan. Chances are you will not recover nearly as fast as your favorite TV show character. According to Dr. Shafer this is the biggest area for trouble. People are often so excited about the change they forget about the recovery time. He’s had clients go away for a long weekend for cosmetic surgery and then come back with no recovery support. Who’s going to take out the stitches? Who’s going to help you if there is a problem? He’s seeing more and more people that need things corrected from botched surgeries or follow up care which makes the initial savings evaporate, to say nothing of the emotional drain.
4. Have a plan: You need a plan before, during, and most importantly once the surgery is complete. Dr. Shafer prefers his clients to be nearby for at least a week after the surgery. Most of Dr. Shafer’s clients stay at the hotel directly across from the hospital on the medical treatment package. He also believes having a nurse for the first 24-48 hours is crucial. Your friends and family are great but they might not be the person you want checking your blood pressure, monitoring your temperature, and changing your bandages. Lastly, make sure to let your emergency contact list know you are going in for surgery in the event there are any complications.
The old saying that nothing comes for free still applies. So think twice before jumping off the cruise ship for a Botox excursion. Instead find a facility that is right for you and will be easily accessible once the ship has sailed.