Cosmetic tourism – is it a good idea?

Written by: Mr Simon Eccles
Edited by: Bronwen Griffiths

Nowadays, the types of holidays you can book for yourself are almost limitless, and this includes combining your time abroad with having cosmetic procedures. Whilst this can be less expensive than having the same procedures done in your country of residence, being treated overseas can carry risks. Mr Simon Eccles, a leading craniofacial plastic surgeon, explains how the risks of ‘cosmetic tourism’ can outweigh the supposed benefits for the patient.

What is cosmetic tourism?

Many patients are electing to undergo cosmetic surgery procedures abroad. There has been a huge increase in cosmetic tourism in the last few years, and some patients are combining surgery with holidays. Not surprisingly, there has also been a huge increase in the complication rate, and patients often return to the UK and then seek corrective surgery. This is often through the NHS route, in a health economy where resources are already stretched and limited.

What should patients be aware of when considering treatment overseas?

I have treated patients returning from abroad with significant health issues including sepsis, and there have been a number of deaths attributable to cosmetic surgery complications in the last few years.

It is vitally important for any patient contemplating cosmetic surgery that they understand the risks as well as the benefits of cosmetic surgery. I would encourage any patient to ask specifically about arrangements for treatment should there be complications, and specifically to take care if considering treatments abroad. I think patients often forget that they will be undergoing significant surgical procedures, and careful recovery after surgery is vital.

My surgery checklist would be:

  1. Understand the surgery and what you wish to achieve
  2. Meet your surgeon and make sure you are comfortable with them and they can deliver to your needs
  3. If it doesn’t ‘feel right’ then don’t proceed
  4. Make sure there are good arrangements to deal with complications and you have documentation
  5. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is, just walk away and enjoy the holiday!


To find out more about plastic surgery procedures in the United Kingdom, make an appointment with an expert.

By Mr Simon Eccles
Plastic surgery

Mr Simon Eccles is an esteemed consultant craniofacial plastic surgeon practising in London. Having first qualified as a dentist and then as a maxillo-facial surgeon in 1985, he then trained and qualified as a doctor before beginning training in plastic surgery, specialising in head and neck and cranio-facial surgery. He was awarded the McGregor medal for outstanding performance in the Royal College of Surgeons plastic surgery examination. 

Mr Simon Eccles works as a consultant plastic surgeon in both the NHS and in private practice across different sites in London, and is a member of a number of committees in his field. He is also a member of a group of surgeons working for the charity 'Facing the World', where they carry out life-saving and life-changing surgical work on children across the world who would not otherwise have access to this level of care. 

Mr Eccles is also dedicated to training and teaching junior plastic surgeons and has written a number of articles for peer-reviewed journals, he has also made a number of television appearances as an expert in his field, and has been an invited speaker for TED.  

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