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A guide to the risks of having breast surgery abroad

A guide to the risks of having breast surgery abroad

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UK vs overseas breast surgery mythbuster

Breast surgery in the UK is expensive

It’s certainly true that breast surgery overseas tends to cost less than it does in the UK. For example, for breast uplift surgery you could expect comparative prices as follows:

UKEurope (e.g. Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary)South America
Around £4,000£2,000 or less£1,500 or less

But the savings you could make by going abroad for the operation could well be offset by the potential risks. See below about what these can be.

I can combine it with a holiday

This is a popular way of selling cosmetic surgery outside the UK that attracts people to the idea of feeling truly relaxed before their surgery, and having time to recover from it afterwards. But be wary of signing up for an operation at a hospital you’ve never been to, by a surgeon you’ve never met. To It’s advisable to have two consultations with the surgeon who will be treating you before the surgery, which allows for a cooling off period.

And think carefully about the idea of a ‘holiday’ after your surgery, as you would not be able to lie in the sun, drink alcohol or do anything active immediately after a major operation. Also, long haul flights and surgery can both increase the risk of deep vein thrombosis or a pulmonary embolism so this is another risk to consider.

I’m not sure I trust any UK breast surgeons any more than overseas surgeons

This is a valid concern, but in the UK you can check the credentials of a surgeon by seeing if they are registered with the General Medical Council, and whether they are a registered member of the British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons and the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons.

While most surgeons abroad will be registered with similar associations in their country and will have their own qualifications, it won’t be easy to see how these associations and qualifications measure up to those in the UK.

How safe is having breast surgery abroad?

The risk of complications after breast surgery is present whether it takes place abroad or in the UK. But in the UK, the surgeon is responsible for providing follow-up treatment if complications do occur, whereas aftercare from an overseas operation isn’t necessarily offered at all, or may not be up to the same standards as in the UK. And not all clinics have a healthcare professional based in the UK should problems arise.


According to findings from private healthcare search engine, the number of Brits seeking cosmetic procedures abroad has risen by 109% in recent years, which indicates just how many people are willing to take the risk.

But research by online comparison website showed less than half of those people who travelled abroad were pleased with the results and almost one in five had to have further treatments to correct a problem. Post-surgery can also be an issue too, with 33% of people who travelled abroad for cosmetic surgery claiming to have caught an infection following their surgery or treatment.

However, there are ways to minimise the risks of this happening: read on for our advice.

How to minimise the risks

Before booking in for breast surgery, or any cosmetic procedure, abroad, you should think about the following advice:

Beware of the holiday sell

Having major surgery is no holiday, and even less so if you’re in a strange place and without the appropriate aftercare, so any clinic marketing breast surgery as such should be approached with caution.

Meet your surgeon

Do not agree to undergo breast surgery without first meeting the surgeon carrying out the procedure and visiting the hospital where it will take place. Make sure the surgeon speaks English or another language you speak fluently, so they can answer any questions you have.

Consider the costs

Find out not just about the planned costs but potential costs if you have to return to the country for further treatment or if there are complications. Also, find out if fees are refundable if you change your mind ahead of the surgery.

Choose carefully

You should treat the process of choosing a surgeon with the same care whether they are in the UK or abroad. The Royal College of Surgeons has some good advice on this. The surgeon should be fully insured to carry out the procedure – you can ask to see this.

Do your homework

Research your breast surgery procedure thoroughly in terms of consultations, the procedure itself, risks, complications and aftercare. See our cosmetic breast surgery pages for further details.

Talk it through

Before giving your consent to undergo any procedure, you should have a thorough consultation with the surgeon who will be performing it. Ask as many questions as you need to and be wary of surgeons who are reluctant to discuss the details of your operation and aftercare with you.

Aftercare advice

Be clear about what your aftercare package includes, what happens in the event that there’s a problem and how long the clinic will continue to support you. Make sure you have contact details for a named doctor, not a helpline, who could be invaluable if there are any complications.

For more information and advice on all aspects of breast surgery, speak to Stephen McCulley and the team.

Related advice

See the following pages for further support and advice: