Life&Style Writer Ella Taylor explores the dangers of jetting abroad for cosmetic procedures

Written by Ella Taylor
3rd year English Literature student and Life and Style editor
Last updated

Cosmetic tourism is the latest phenomenon to grip people’s attention. The enticing opportunity to receive cheap plastic surgery with high standards is promised once jetting abroad. There is also the chance to have an idyllic holiday in exotic locations such as Turkey or Brazil. Many celebrities have travelled for the same purpose, with Katie Price and many of The Only Way is Essex cast engaging in cosmetic tourism. However, this offer is usually too good to be true like most things. Cosmetic tourism has dangerous limitations that everybody should know about before considering, fraught with corrective surgeries and even deaths.

With social media and influencers reigning the internet and a rise in altering appearances with Photoshop. It comes as no surprise that the average person may begin to compare themselves unfairly. Apps such as Instagram and Snapchat have created a dangerous precedent through their filters, especially those which tweak your body. For example, realistic filters on Snapchat give the appearance of a smaller nose or a more defined jawline. After using these and looking in the mirror, it is understandable why so many may dislike their beautiful, natural features. 

Cosmetic tourism has dangerous limitations that everybody should know about


Following Kim Kardashian’s rumoured Brazilian Butt Lift (commonly known as a BBL) in 2012, interest in ‘butt enhancement’ rose 34% and ‘butt implants’ rose 100%. This is just one example of the vast effect that social media can have on those considering surgery. However, due to the expense of surgery in the United Kingdom, many people have turned to cosmetic tourism. According to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS), people can save 40 to 80 per cent travelling abroad for alterations. This means that the market has grown around 15 to 25 per cent. However, we must acknowledge the additional risks of travelling abroad for cosmetic alterations?

The primary issue seems to be the patient’s distance from the UK. It is often challenging to see the qualifications that prospective surgeons hold, as standards vary from place to place and countries. Even if the surgery is successful, there is still a monumental issue in travelling home. Thrombosis is when a blood clot forms in a vein, partially or completely blocking blood flow. The combination of the operation itself and flying increases the risk of this occurring. Many surgeons may neglect to factor this in, or some patients who are not educated enough may embark too soon, causing severe health issues.

Patients who are not educated enough may embark too soon

Furthermore, according to the NHS website, it is ‘the surgeon’s responsibility to provide follow-up treatment’ if an issue arises in Britain. However, it is a lot more difficult to revisit a surgeon who operated in another country for obvious reasons. Therefore, with the NHS not intervening unless the case is life-threatening, there is no choice but to opt for private healthcare if you are unsatisfied with your results.

In fact, in 2020, a whopping £8.2 million was spent on correctional surgery in Britain. As well as this, the patient is subjected to more recovery time. This usually results in them spending more money than if they initially had the surgery in the UK. Although there are several success stories regarding cosmetic tourism, in my opinion, the risks outweigh the positives. One tragic example of this is the mother of three Leah Cambridge, who travelled from Leeds to Izmir in 2018 to receive a BBL. After complications arose, she fatally suffered three heart attacks on the operating table. 

A removal of social media filters that digitally ‘correct’ the user’s features is a great start

Undoubtedly, there can be complications in procedures performed in the UK, yet additional risks accompanying travelling exacerbate the base level complications heavily. I believe that social media should offer more protection for vulnerable people who may impulsively consider surgery abroad. A removal of filters that digitally ‘correct’ the user’s features is a great start. It is, of course, the individual’s choice whether they choose to have surgery, especially abroad. However, it is imperative that thorough research is performed to avoid tragic consequences. 

Read more from Life&Style:

Cosmetic Surgery: Control or Conformity?

Should Cosmetic Surgery Be ‘Reclaimed’?

Plastic Surgery and Social Media