Traveling to undergo plastic surgery: care, risks, evaluation, safety

Many people living in North America (USA, Canada, etc.) and Europe often travel to Colombia with the objective of getting a facial or body plastic surgery to improve their image.

One of the favorite cities to perform this type of surgical procedures is Cali, and many people usually travel in december or another month to enjoy the city per se but many other people only visit it for cosmetic surgery.

"The quality and warmth of attetion provided in Cali, Colombia, besides the low prices they manage to operate compared to the prices foreigners people would pay in their own countries, are the main reasons why many go to Cali and not to another city.

"This is explained by Julio César Escobar, plastic and reconstructive surgeon at the Surgical Center of Beauty, CQB and member of the Ibero-American Federation of Plastic Surgery and the Colombian Society of Plastic Surgery.

Thus, patients from the United States, Panama, Chile, Ecuador, Spain, Italy, France and the Caribbean Islands, in particular, frequently ge into the operating rooms of the Calean clinics, as confirmed by the vice president of the International Society of Plastic and Aesthetic Surgery and former president of the Colombian Society of Plastic Surgery.

Importance of evaluation before the surgery

However, the problem is that the desire to have the perfect face or body, make travelers sometimes forget to take certain precautions and keep in mind and and apply some safety parameters, and that is why they are exposed to suffer complications or even death.

The biggest mistake they can make is to travel back to their countries very soon after the surgery, in fact many choose to return the same day or a day after the surgery, and even if the surgery was quite simple the risks and adverse health effects of a trip in this state, are quite high.

When a patient consults before going to Colombia, he/she needs to get into an evaluation which, according to Escobar, must be much more exhaustive than that one made in Cali (when he decides to travel).

"Normally medical and clinical history are very important, in these cases even more since there is no direct medical-patient contact but virtual". Therefore, the surgeon must do a very careful investigation about the health of the person and his personal and family history, inquiring about:

• What you want, why and for what. This, in Escobar's opinion, is done in order to know if he has compelling reasons to get the procedure and if the person is fully convinced of his/her decision and is not an impulsive reaction or something that just a few days ago occurred to him/her.
• What is your age, weight and height.
• If you suffer from a condition such as hypertension, diabetes, anemia, reflux, phlebitis, hemorrhoids, constipation, allergies, respiratory, cardiac or coagulation problems. Similarly, if you have received blood transfusions before, if you have had seizures or if you have wear glasses.

• Consumption of drugs such as anxiolytics and antidepressants.
• Surgical history of appendicitis, gallbladder, etc. and how they have evolved.

• "In women, the gyneco-skeptic history is questioned in order to know if she has children, if she has had ectopic pregnancies, if she take planification pills or has another planification method, the result of her last cytology and, if she is over 40 years old then her most recent mammogram," adds Escobar.
• Family history of cancer, diabetes, hypertension or heart attack.
• On the other hand, apart from all these questions, you should ask the patient for certain tests to be performed in his/her country, but the results are verified in Colombia.


The major risk for patients traveling to Colombia to undergo plastic surgery is thromboembolism which is the manifestation of a clot in the deep venous circulation, which "travels" to any distal organ (liver, lungs , Heart, brain, etc.) and obstructs a vein or artery affecting the blood flow and oxygenation, which is known as infarction.

"In other words, due to the stillness in which these patients remain for several hours when traveling by plane or other transport, the feet swell and the blood begins to run slower and stagnates, forming clots or thrombus."

The consequences, as explained by Escobar, vary according to the number of vessels involved their size and where they are located. "For example, when the thrombus compromises a very important vessel, a very small one or several are formed what is known as massive thromboembolism, can lead to death." And if the person smokes, is sedentary and/or is overweight fatty, this risk is even bigger.

For all these reasons specialists insist that it is impossible for a person to travel the next day after the surgery, or well, at least for patient safety this is not recommended.

The other danger for these patients is that after having undergone the surgical procedure, they do not keep the relative rest that is indicated to them, but instead decide to do errands, to attend a social event or to do some tourist activities recently operated, exposing themselves to getting infections since the public places have a high levels of pollution,

Therefore, the specialists emphasize that the term "medical tourism" is wrongly used, because the person must to understand that he/she is not going to spend holidays but to undergo surgery.

Also, many are exposed to the sun before surgery and travel with the perfect tan to show off. "But what they forget is that exposure to the sun is a thermal trauma, and besides there is the mechanical trauma of surgery which adds more aggression, so in cases of liposculpture, for example, burn the skin, "explains Escobar.

The same happens if they go on a trip or vacation after surgery and receive sunshine within three months of being operated, making the skin prone to hyperpigmented or hypopigmented scars.

In addition, it should be kept in mind that most foreign patients travel with the objective of doing several procedures at the same time, which exposes them to the risks of multiple surgeries, since the longer the surgery the more blood loss and the biggers Risks may happen.


Keep in mind that if you traveled more than four hours, you must wait at least two or three days for undergo surgery. Lina Triana warns that, the more hours you spend on the plane the longer you should wait, because the risk of thromboembolism is high.

Do not hide information to your surgeon. Tell him everything with confidence so that he knows how to proceed.

Submit yourself in your country of origin to all the tests that the surgeon orders you, such as the electrocardiogram or mammography, stress tests (among others), since these allow you to know if you are fit to undergo procedures, Suggests Triana.

Tell your doctor how long you will be in Colombia.

If you are a smoker, if you are fat overweight or or sedentary, Escobar considers that it is necessary that an internist authorize when to travel and if is a good idea to undergo surgery.

If you smoke, leave the cigarette at least a month before surgery (if you can stop it for a longer time and do something to improve your aerobic capacity, such as exercising, would be much better to reduce the risks associated with this type of surgeries).

Also yo must suspend one month before surgery things such as contraceptives, hormones, anti-inflammatories or homeopathic medicines.

Ask the surgeon about the care you should have before and after the procedure.