Choosing a cosmetic surgeon may seem an intimidating process for international travelers, but is extremely necessary in order to find the surgeon that will best meet the needs and expectations of every patient.
While international standards of quality care, experience and training has grown throughout the world, consumers still need to be careful and take the time to do their homework and research the certification, accreditation, experience and expertise of plastic surgeons, as well as plastic surgical centers and facilities around the globe.

First Things First
When choosing an international plastic surgeon to meet specific cosmetic or reconstructive plastic surgery needs, consumers are likely to access a number of medical tourism web sites offering such services. However, choose medical provider portals that offer transparent information regarding the training, credentials, and experience of plastic surgeons in various global destinations.

Check to make sure that the surgeon is certified through their country's board-certifying association. For example, American plastic surgeons should be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Every country offering international plastic or cosmetic surgical procedures should have a governing board determining minimum requirements, training and experience for certification for their country's doctors.

Many internationally available plastic surgeons are certified not only in their country of origin, but major countries such as the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, and so forth.  This information should be readily available from the surgeon's office upon request.

One of the best resources for consumers in checking the credentials of international plastic surgeons is the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery or the International Board of Cosmetic Surgery (IBCS), which offers credentialing in General Cosmetic Surgery, Facial Cosmetic Surgery, Body Contouring and All Specialties, including anatomy, diagnosis, treatment, potential complications and general medical and surgery principles. Surgeons applying for IBCS membership must submit 100 cases consisting of H&P (history and physical), pre-operative, operative and post-operative reports, and any complications.

The International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, also known as ISAPS, carefully screens members. In order to be a member of this International Society, surgeons are required to be certified in their country of origin and recommended for membership by at least two other ISAPS members. Such individuals will be required to have been actively practicing for a minimum of three years, and the application submitted by the plastic surgeon must be signed by the country's national secretary. Each application is reviewed by members of the society before admittance.

Experience Matters
Consumers should carefully screen experience and specialties of plastic surgeons to ensure that the plastic surgeon that is chosen is experienced in specific types of cosmetic surgery. Some plastic surgeons specialize in facial reconstruction, while others focus on breast augmentation, reduction or implants, while still others focus on liposuction treatments.

  • Ask potential providers regarding the training and experience in specific procedures that you may be interested in.
  • Don't be hesitant to ask the surgeon's office to send you before and after photos regarding the specific type of cosmetic surgery that you're interested in.
  • Ask if it would be possible for you to contact former patients for their experiences and feedback.
  • Find out how many procedures the plastic surgeon of your choice has performed that are similar to yours as well as their results.
  • Determine risk factors and side effects ahead of time. Your chosen doctor should be willing and available to discuss such questions with you.
  • Research

Access reliable sources when it comes to performing research on international plastic surgeons.  Reputable medical provider portals and web sites offer transparent pricing, education, training, and credentials of international plastic surgeons. Contact with such facilities should be streamlined and easy for the consumer, and offer direct contact information for surgeons.

Finally, check into the facility where your cosmetic procedure will take place. Whether an outpatient clinic, an office-based surgical suite, or a hospital, all facilities offering plastic surgery of any form should be accredited by national or international accreditation organizations in the country of origin, or international accrediting organizations such as the Joint Commissions International.

Check to make sure that your doctor of choice has hospital privileges if he or she performs such surgeries in a hospital setting. Plastic surgeons granted operating privileges at hospital facilities are evaluated for competency, quality, and safety.

Bottom Line
As the need an availability of international medical travel grows in coming years, increasing numbers of patients seeking international cosmetic surgical procedures will continue to offer superlative, accessible and affordable plastic surgery treatments and procedures. However, consumers need to take responsibility for performing adequate and in-depth research before signing on the dotted line.

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