Plastic surgery has leaped out of the taboo closet. And apparently, if you get 10 procedures in one day you can grab the cover of People magazine. A little nip and tuck to maintain a more youthful and refreshed appearance is more common in the 21st century than in past years. In recent years, tourism companies have been trying their best to capitalize on this trend.

For decades, South American countries have been ahead of the cosmetic surgery curve. In fact, women in these locales wear their procedures proudly as a sign of status and prestige. Physicians in countries like Argentina and Brazil are currently using equipment and techniques that will not be available in the U.S. for years because they are mired down in FDA approval.

With the economy in a slump, many would be patients have been forced to put procedures on hold. But many others are taking advantage of the low-costs of the same procedures offered in exotic far flung vacation destinations.

Tourism companies are touting the advantages of combining a vacation with affordable and safe cosmetic procedures performed by highly trained surgeons. Sound too good to be true? Well, it might be.

Premiere San Francisco plastic surgeon Dr. Carolyn Chang warns that medical credentials in other countries may be different than what you are accustomed to in the US. She adds that facilities that illustrate sanitary conditions and top of the line medical equipment in their brochures and web site might be misleading. “The choice to have a cosmetic procedure is a personal one that will ultimately impact your quality of life,” says Dr. Chang. “You should have a good relationship with your physician and have a solid understanding of their practice and operating facility before you move forward with any decision regarding surgery.”

And what about follow up appointments? If a problem should arise 3-6 months after the procedure where do you go? Who can you turn to? Dr. Chang agrees, “Most plastic surgeries don’t provide instant results. It can take weeks and months for swelling to go down, the body to heal and for you to see the results you want.” In this case, having your doctor close by to address any concerns is a huge advantage.

We have all heard botched surgery stories but should that happen in these cases, the patient that uses an overseas facility may not have any recourse.

It’s been several years since the “Get Gorgeous Get-Away” has been introduced to US patients and since that time there have been both happy and dissatisfied patients. However, before embarking on such a venture make sure that you have all the facts in order to make the decision that is best for you. At the end of the day, the choice is yours.


Allison Neves is Director of Public Relations for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. She has more than 17 years of media and public relations experience, providing strategic and tactical PR services for a wide range of clients, from actors and musicians to non-profit organizations and high-tech companies.

When she’s not trying to save the world one press release at a time, Allison volunteers for a variety of non-profit organizations, practices pilates, scuba dives, and spends time exploring the world with her best friend, her husband Travis.

With parents from San Salvador and Hong Kong, Allison has made a personal commitment to reconnect with her roots by traveling extensively throughout Latin America and Asia. Allison has also contributed articles to a variety of travel publications including Travellady, Single Minded Women and Stone Magazine. Check out her travel writing web and her other articles on Tango Diva.

Allison is a past recipient of two Communicator Awards, three Golden Thinker Awards and the Bulldog Reporter’s Award of excellence for media relations and publicity. She is an active member of the Public Relations Society of America and San Francisco’s prestigious Commonwealth Club. She currently resides in the historic Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco.