Cosmetic Surgery Procedures Abroad - An Essentials Guide

Choosing to have cosmetic surgery in a foreign country is a decision which shouldn't be taken lightly. Where to go, what to know, how to pay for it.

Xe Consumer

July 1, 2019 6 min read

Who among us hasn't looked in the mirror, and wished there was something about their appearance they could change? (OK, besides the woman in the photo above) People are often self-conscious about the facial features they were born with, or the way their appearance has evolved over time.

There are many places on the internet where you'll find the reasons why people have cosmetic surgery in foreign countries. A family physician or other medical professional should be consulted before undergoing elective surgery of this nature.

This article is intended for those who have made a decision to have plastic surgery. For those who have completed their "due diligence" on the sort of surgery they are interested in, and the only remaining considerations are when and where to have it done.

Some of the key motivations for medical tourism of the cosmetic variety include:

  • Affordability

  • Discretion

  • Availability of specialized practioners and facilities

  • Privacy throughout the process and recovery

Combining cosmetic surgery abroad with holiday time is a popular way for many to go away, "get some work done", and come back looking like a new person. Literally. Or, at least an enhanced version of the person they were before they went away.

According to, men account for about 14 percent of all cosmetic surgeries, which leaves many of us to accompany our significant others overseas when spouse/partner is preparing for surgery, and during post-op recovery.

Here are some insights and resources you can use to have a satisfying, drama-free plastic surgery experience overseas.

Do Your Research, and Don't Skimp on the Details

When you are choosing a clinic in a distant country to have any sort of plastic surgery, be it reconstructive in nature following an accident, cosmetic surgery for aesthetic reasons, due diligence is critical. Searching and opting for the cheapest plastic surgery might save your bank account from trimming down for your tummy tuck, or liposuction procedure. Yet you shouldn't expect the same standards of safety, surgical skill or sanitary conditions at the lowest-price clinic.

Ensuring the clinic you contract is staffed with people who speak your language and are certified by national and international boards is key to a stress free experience.

How often do you check independent reviews for restaurants, hair salons, or resort destinations? It stands to reason that you should research a cosmetic surgeon and their facility equally as thoroughly, if not more so. After you have your procedure, you should contribute to the reviews of the facility you have your procedure completed. Help others to make an educated decision on their surgery provider, be your experience great, poor, or indifferent.

There are generally associations and medical standards regulators in the countries where medical tourists have surgery. Consulting with them can help safeguard your immediate safety and well-being, and lessen the likelihood of long-term side effects. Associations include:

Working with a plastic surgery clinic which is certified with one of these organizations is your safest bet for entrusting your:

  • Face, for such surgeries as rhinoplasty, (nose surgery) otoplasty, (ear surgery) collagen implants into the cheeks, dermabrasion, or face/eye lifts

  • Hair transplants

  • Breast implants or reduction procedures

  • Liposuction or tummy tucks

  • Dermal implants injectables such as botox and Restylane

  • Lower body lifts and muscle tightening procedures

Selecting a medical professionals to complete one or several these surgeries on you should be done with care, and after consulting with your family physician or other professional who can review your medical history and any possible side effects with you.

Photo by Olga Guryanova / Unsplash

Top 10 Countries for Plastic Surgery

Some of the criteria often cited for being the most-visited countries for cosmetic surgery are cost, quality of care, post-op recovery facilities, and proximity to countries like the United States and United Kingdom. With this in mind, let's make like David Letterman and run down the Top 10 countries for cosmetic surgery.

10. Colombia - plastic surgery is popular here with locals and medical tourists

  1. France - The World Health Organisation named France's healthcare system the best in the world in the year 2000, but it has slipped since then. It still offer excellent services, and training for many international cosmetic surgery students.

  2. Thailand - There are many people who have procedures done in Thailand because of the idyllic setting for recovery. It's also relatively inexpensive to have quality surgery work done here.

  3. Italy - Many international travellers go to Italy for non-invasive, anti-aging surgeries for youthful skin. Liposuction is also popular here, though after having pasta, gelato and other delicious food throughout Italy, it doesn't surprise this author.

    Photo by Toralf Thomassen / Unsplash
    6. India - India is one of the top countries for cosmetic procedures, and many surgeries cost around one-tenth of the price of what it would be in the USA. Resort packages are also available.  

  4.  Mexico -Medical tourists from Canada and the United States often travel to cities like Tijuana and Baja, California to have facial and completed body surgeries due to the quality of care, climate, and recovery amenities.

4. Japan - Japanese culture is highly influenced by western culture and vanity. Some Japanese children even have cosmetic procedures. Youthful appearance is a high priority.

  1. South Korea - Approximately 20% of South Korean women have some sort of cosmetic surgery procedure, and their clinics and surgeons are of high quality.

  2. Brazil - Much like South Korea, cosmetic surgery is very popular among Brazilians, who place a high priority on beauty and body-aesthetic. It has evolved into an undisputed leader in affordable, quality cosmetic surgery which is very consistent and safe.

  3. USA  - About 3 million plastic surgery procedures happen annually in the United States, which is home to the largest body of surgeons in the world. Though the cost of surgeries may be higher than most of the countries on this list, the quality of care, recovery options and regulation of clinics in the industry are second to none.

Enquiring about payment arrangements for cosmetic surgeries is also an important step in this process. You can make an XE Money Transfer to all of these top-ten destinations except for India and South Korea. We would be happy to assist you as your international payment partner to have a positive cosmetic surgery experience abroad.