Traveling to New York for Plastic Surgery

Since opening Yager Esthetics in 1997, I have focused on the education and safety of the Hispanic community with regards to cosmetic plastic surgery.  I have been fortunate to build a thriving practice in New York City’s Washington Heights community, and develop a good reputation in my field.  Through interviews on television, newspaper and magazine articles, as well as internet articles and blogs, I get more and more inquiries from around the US and from other countries.  Many want to come to NYC and have plastic surgery with me, so I thought I might address the pros and cons.

I have many patients who live in New York, but want to travel to other countries for surgery.  The main reason is saving money.  I always caution them about making sure you know the training and safety record of the doctor, making sure proper testing is done, that they can stay longer than anticipated if a complication arises, and that they know the emergency plan of the doctor. By that, I mean if a strange allergy occurs, or a complication that needs hospitalization or advanced care, how do they get to a qualified center quickly and who pays these costs?  Even if your surgeon is fantastic, things happen that are not the doctor’s fault, and you need to think of all situations. With a well trained surgeon, in an accredited center with a well qualified anesthesiologist, there is little if any savings when travel is factored in.

These same considerations must be explained to patients who travel to Yager Esthetics.  They need to have a place to stay during recovery, and a plan for staying longer if anything should happen that is out of the ordinary.  Medical insurance which covers you for this procedure in New York is helpful. My office is literally across the street from New York Presbyterian Hospital, so getting there is easy.  In today’s modern society, with email and phone, most details such as fees, time of surgery, and health can be assessed before travel.  When you meet me and see my center, just as in any doctor’s office, you and I must feel comfortable with each other before we proceed.

While I am flattered when anyone chooses me to help them achieve their cosmetic plastic surgery goals, when people fly in from other states or countries the compliment is also much appreciated.  Usually, excellent Board Certified Plastic Surgeons exist in all states, and I encourage you to seek local options if you feel they are equivalent.  If you have your heart set on Yager Esthetics, we will do everything possible to make the process safe and easy.

Overseas Surgery

Many of my patients have been asking me a lot of questions about the recent incident of an overseas plastic surgeon being arrested for practicing medicine without a license in New York.  I thought it would be helpful to explain why if a surgery is done in another country, it is illegal for a doctor to do even a consult here in New York.  Let me be clear in stating that there is nothing wrong with having surgery overseas, provided you are completely aware of the risks, potential extra costs, and your rights as a patient.

Even if you are the world’s best plastic surgeon, you need to be licensed in the US to practice here.  Practicing means doing a consult, free or not, talking to a patient, evaluating them for surgery, or discussing surgery to be done in another country.  This is practicing medicine without a license, which is punishable by years in prison The laws are in place to protect you the patient, as without a license, the state cannot confirm the training, safety, and expertise of the doctor, and he has not shown himself to be qualified to practice in the US.  It also makes it much more difficult to seek damages for errors in care.

Be aware that if your doctor says he comes to the US often and will treat you when he comes in, that this is against the law.  When the doctor comes here and does injections, minor revisions, liposuction or other touch up procedures, he is also breaking the law and putting your health at risk.  An apartment or a spa or salon is not the appropriate place to treat patients even if you do have a license.

To be a great doctor, especially a great plastic surgeon, you need good judgment. This means being honest with your patients, putting your patients’ interests ahead of your own, and following the rules of safety and good practice.  I live by those words, and so should your doctor.

When considering going overseas for plastic surgery, using the surgical fee as the only factor in making your decision is often a mistake, and in order to make a fair comparison, you need to know what you are getting for your money.  Aside from the cost of travel, staying in another country, loss of time from work, there are serious safety considerations. Below you will find some helpful questions to consider when thinking about overseas surgery.

Any plastic surgeon can have complications, even if they do everything properly.  If this happens to you overseas, what is the emergency plan?  Do you have insurance there if you need to be hospitalized?  Can you even get to a qualified hospital quickly enough?  Can you pay those fees which are often due before they even will put you in an ambulance?  Does the nearby hospital have the medications or equipment needed to save your life?  Can you afford to stay longer, potentially missing work, needing someone to watch your children?  If you have a problem later, can you afford to take off more time, pay your additional flight and hotel so your doctor can help you?  Can you afford the costs of a doctor here to fix the issue, if he will see you at all?

What sort of training did your doctor have?  Does he belong to any national or international societies?  How many years have they been in private practice? Have  they ever had a death in the facility, or transported a patient to the hospital emergently?  Are the implants or other devices they use approved by the FDA  for use in the US?

The best way to stay safe is to be educated.  I hope this helps.