Aftercare and cosmetic surgery abroad

When doing your research to plan a trip abroad to have cosmetic surgery, it can be tempting to put all your efforts into preparing to travel and have your procedure. Many people forget to think about what happens afterwards. Every type of cosmetic surgery will have a period of recovery, during which time you may need additional medical care. And what happens once you have travelled home? If problems develop later on, you cannot easily return to see your surgeon, so how can you plan for good aftercare?

Ideal aftercare scenarios

The best clinics offering cosmetic surgery abroad not only provide initial consultations in your own country with the surgeon and possibly other medical staff from the clinic, but they also provide follow-up for you once you return home.

Immediately after your cosmetic surgery, you will probably stay in your chosen clinic overnight, so that you can be monitored. Any serious complications connected with the anaesthetic, or with bleeding, will usually arise within the first 24 hours and can be treated promptly. You will then recover in your hotel or apartment for a few days before travelling home.

Cosmetic surgeons recommend:

  • Liposuction, including male breast reduction, blepharoplasty (eyelid lifts), pinnaplasty (pinning back the ears): you can usually travel 2 days after your cosmetic surgery.
  • Breast augmentation, breast reduction or breast uplift: stay for at least 3–4 days before flying home.
  • Tummy tuck (abdominoplasty), apronectomy and major abdominal cosmetic surgery: stay at least 7 days before a flight.

During the time you are abroad, you will be able to return to the clinic to see medical staff if you are worried, or if you develop problems or complications.

Once you return home, you will have access to the same surgeon for regular follow-ups to assess how well things have turned out, to make sure you haven’t experienced ongoing problems, and to make sure healing is complete.

Other possibilities for aftercare

Other cosmetic surgery clinics abroad will not be able to provide aftercare once you get home, but you should still be able to telephone them in case of worries or problems.

Every clinic should give you detailed information about what to expect, and what to do in case of problems. If, once you get home, you start to feel unwell and you think this may be as a direct result of your cosmetic surgery, you will need to see your own medical doctor. The most common problem that can occur is infection of a wound, which can be treated by keeping the wound clean, having it dressed, and by having antibiotics.

It is rare, but there are cases when the surgery itself, even though carried out by a reputable surgeon, leads to problems. You need to check with your clinic what happens then. You may need to travel back so that you can have further treatment or further cosmetic surgery, which will obviously add to your travel costs, and maybe also to your medical costs.

Check the financial cost of aftercare

Part of your preparation for cosmetic surgery abroad is to check the complete cost of your treatment. It is best to ask how much aftercare is included, whether that involves consultations in your own country or not. What seems like a good deal when you first consider it may work out to be much more expensive when you take into account the aftercare.

Eating and drinking after cosmetic surgery

If you are travelling abroad to have a cosmetic surgery procedure, it is fine to plan a few days of relaxation in an exotic location. This may be easier in some ways that being stuck at home, but you need to be sensible. It is important to drink plenty of fluids, steering clear of the tap water as necessary, and to eat well. Several light meals may be easier if you are still feeling a bit weak from the anaesthetic, or you need to take regular painkillers.

Your medical team will probably advise against drinking alcohol and smoking after your cosmetic surgery. Smoking after any operation can delay healing, and while it may be tempting to drink alcohol if you are staying at a holiday resort, keep your intake under control.

Take it easy on the activities

Swimming will not be possible if you have had cosmetic surgery, and you need to follow the instructions from your surgeon about caring for your wound to prevent infection and to make sure the end result is the best possible. If you need to wear compression garments, such as after a male breast reduction, check that these are provided beforehand so that you can wear them as soon as required.

Recently exposed tissue needs to be protected from the sun, as the ultraviolet radiation can cause healing problems. This often means covering up if you are in a sunny location, and resting in the shade rather than stretching out on a sun lounger.


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