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Last Updated: Monday, 5 July, 2004, 10:30 GMT 11:30 UK
Cosmetic surgery holidays warning
Patients can need further surgery when they return to the UK
Patients are being warned of the dangers of taking "cosmetic surgery holidays" by UK doctors.

The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons say increasing numbers are choosing to travel to East Europe or Africa for cheap treatments.

Procedures can often be hundreds of pounds cheaper than in the UK.

But UK experts warn patients usually know very little about the surgeons or clinics - and can need corrective surgery when they come home.

I am amazed that people go for these so-called deals
Douglas McGeorge, BAAPS
The trips are usually advertised in women's magazines.

Patients are seen in London - often in a hotel room - by an agent, and then escorted on their trip.

The surgeons involved in these schemes are not linked to the UK in any way, meaning if further surgery is needed, patients either have to make a second trip to the country where they had their operation, or approach private or NHS surgeons in the UK.

'Cheap can be expensive'

Norman Waterhouse, President of the BAAPS: "In these cases, patients usually have no knowledge of the competence and experience of the surgeon, and there is very little prospect of follow-up care and advice.

"Best practice is compromised by the fact that patients are only meeting their surgeon immediately before a procedure - at which point generally they are committed to and have paid for the surgery.

"Patients then return to the UK without adequate medical records, if any."

Douglas McGeorge, a consultant plastic surgeon and BAAPS council member, said he had seen two patients who went to Eastern Europe for abdominoplasty ("tummy tuck") whose wounds re-opened following the surgery.

Both had said the standard of surgery had been poor and the hospitals were "awful".

He added: "As a surgeon I frown on holiday surgery and am amazed that people go for these so-called deals."

London-based cosmetic surgeon Adriaan Grobbelaar added: "Cheap can be expensive - if patients need things put right, or are worried and need a follow up consultation they may have to fly back.

"That additional cost can wipe out the original saving."

Mr Grobbelaar, who is also on the BAAPS council, added: "Alternatively they may have to pay a surgeon in the UK to review the procedure or the NHS gets burdened with it. It will also be difficult to hold the surgeon accountable long distance.

"People seem to forget that during the recovery period, nobody feels like a holiday."

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