(February, 2006)

At first blush, it may seem a bit odd that a board-certified plastic surgeon living and practicing in the United States is writing a foreword for a book detailing the ins and outs of getting cosmetic treatments outside of this country. What’s next? Major airlines offering insight into bus travel? At the risk of being called a heretic, however, there are several reasons why I think education about cosmetic medicine abroad is useful and why this book, Beauty from Afar, can be helpful for people considering surgery outside the United States.

First, let me say that I support the cautious position of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), detailed in this book, on travel abroad for cosmetic surgery. It is sound advice that I feel is inarguable. At the same time, the ASPS has been very good about including and cultivating the input and instruction of very talented surgeons from around the world. Their techniques are frequently included in ASPS journals and educational meetings.

On a personal note, I have been extremely fortunate to have spent time training with very gifted physicians practicing outside the United States, among them Dr. Ivo Pitanguy in Brazil. The techniques that I acquired while observing these doctors are an integral part of my practice today and are used on an almost daily basis. I have personally seen quality surgical skills outside of our borders.

When we talk about travel abroad for medical services, we are almost always involving an aspect of medical economics. We Americans know that we have an extremely competent medical system. But we also know that in relation to the rest of the world, we have the most expensive. Health care in America can come at a very high cost. This means that, at times, many Americans are unable to afford the highest level of health care services that they feel they may want or deserve. This is true of the aesthetic medical field as well. While my advice would always be to have your surgery done domestically if you can afford it, there are many people who simply would not be able to have a procedure done if they had to pay U.S. prices. In today’s global market where multiple companies and individuals are outsourcing to save on costs, it comes as no surprise that this phenomenon has surfaced in the medical industry.

Ultimately, however, quality and safety must be the top priority, whether you are seeking medical attention here or abroad. Unfortunately, in the United States as well as in other countries, there seems to be no shortage of unscrupulous practitioners who portray themselves as experts in their field, but who have never completed a recognized training or credentialing process. The medical experience for a patient is daunting enough, even in a qualified and legitimate familiar environment. Stepping over the border for equally qualified and legitimate care requires guidance. That’s why Beauty from Afar is so essential. This book provides individuals the necessary tools to make an informed decision when seeking out individual health-care options. Its solid principles apply to anyone searching out quality health care, whether across town, a border or the ocean …

John J. Corey, M.D.
Aesthetic Surgeon in private practice
Scottsdale, Arizona

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