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U.S. Providers Fix Complications From Medical Tourism Procedures

Complications from plastic surgeries done abroad can place burden on U.S. public health systems

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FRIDAY, April 6, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Cosmetic surgery procedures done in developing countries can carry substantial risks of complications that U.S. providers and payers must handle, according to a study published in the April issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Kimberly M. Ross, M.P.H., from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues retrospectively reviewed the cases of patients who presented to the plastic surgery service of an urban tertiary academic hospital with complications or complaints associated with plastic surgery done in a developing country.

The researchers found that among 78 identified patients over a seven-year period, complications were seen following abdominoplasty (35 procedures), breast augmentation (25), and foreign body injections (15). Patients commonly underwent multiple procedures in one sitting (18 patients). The Dominican Republic was the most common destination country (59 patients). Surgical-site infections, pain, and wound healing were the most common complications. The vast majority of patients (86 percent) used medical insurance (most commonly Massachusetts Medicaid) to pay for their follow-up care or manage their complications.

"Cosmetic surgery performed in developing countries can carry substantial risks of complications that can be challenging to patients, primary care providers, insurers, and plastic surgical teams not associated with the original surgery," the authors write. "These complications pose significant burdens on our public health systems."

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