Know the Risks of Travelling for Cosmetic Surgery

Please click here to read our latest blog – 10 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Doctor to Perform Your Breast Augmentation.

Think twice before jetting off on an overseas or interstate cosmetic surgery ‘holiday’ and putting your health in the hands of your travel agent.

Absolute Cosmetic Medicine can offer a qualified second opinion and provide comprehensive information so you can compare the costs and make an informed decision about your cosmetic surgery procedure.

While the sound of a cheap surgical makeover abroad before relaxing pool-side to recover may sound appealing, the real costs to your purse and health may be much higher than you anticipated.

These days the risk is not only overseas but also here in Australia.

There have been a number of news topics in the media lately, with cosmetic clinics in Australia offering low-cost breast augmentations. In the past 18 months, it has been reported that these clinics have allegedly had 4 different patients suffer cardiac arrests while undergoing breast augmentation surgery due to a toxic overdose of local anaesthetic.
It is imperative that whilst undergoing this kind of procedure, that a dedicated Anaesthetist is available throughout the sedation period, to ensure your Absolute safety.

Dr Murray has performed over 10,000 procedures using a local anaesthetic and has never suffered a toxicity reaction. Training, experience and your life are more important than cheap dodgy surgery.

For more information on what to consider when having breast surgery, ensure you stay home and stay safe in Perth, by reading our blog here.

Reduce Your Risk

All surgery carries risk no matter where it is performed, but those risks are increased in countries where medical and health regulations are not as stringent as in Australia.

Increased chances of infection in tropical environments, implants and products that haven’t gone through the same rigorous approval process as Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA) and the risk of post-operative deep vein thrombosis on the flight home can all be potentially life-threatening.

Follow up revisions and corrections can also add significant costs, as would return overseas travel to see your surgeon.

Despite regular warnings from medical professionals and other organisations, Australians continue to risk their health with travel overseas for ‘cheap’ cosmetic surgery holidays.

Horror Stories

Absolute has seen an increasing number of people arrive back in WA with complications from their overseas surgery. Practice principal Dr Glenn Murray has repaired many failed cosmetic procedures and defective surgery cases.

Read some first-hand accounts of the dangers of travelling overseas for cosmetic surgery.


Tabatha’s Story: Overseas Cosmetic Surgery Almost Killed Me

Have you ever thought about having cheaper cosmetic surgery overseas? I did, and it nearly killed me.

My name is Tabatha, and I wish to share my story so that anyone considering doing the same, can better understand the game of roulette they are playing with their lives.

I let myself believe that having cosmetic surgery overseas was the same as having it in Australia, only cheaper, with a bonus holiday. Instead, I found recovering from surgery was certainly no holiday, it was certainly not cheaper (due to the cost of repairing the poor job) and most importantly, it almost cost me my life.

I was booked in for breast augmentation and liposuction at one of those exotic overseas luxury hospitals, and it was lovely like it promised to be. I was very well taken care of, picked up and driven to my appointments and the hospital room was beautiful, large big screen tv and all the trimmings.

The cost of this 5-star service including flights and accommodation was over $15,000. I dealt with Australians to book my surgery and the Hospital Manager was also Australian, so I felt I was in safe hands.

Surgical Complications

In reality, I almost died of complications and blood loss during the liposuction procedure. The surgeon took 11 litres of fat from me when the safety standard in Australia is no more than 5 litres per day. I had 6 blood transfusions, 2 whilst I was I was in surgery (without consent) and another 4 whilst I was recovering. I have absolutely no idea where this blood came from.

What still shocks me is that the hospital was still trying to get me to sign consent forms for breast augmentation 4 days later! With the support of a friend who happened to also be on holiday nearby, I took courage in refusing my scheduled breast surgery.

One of the saddest thoughts I have about this ordeal is that I went alone and I never told my dad I was going overseas for surgery. I can only imagine how devastating it would have been for him if I had died this way, never to see him again. It was a big fat stupid mistake that I would never wish that outcome upon anyone.


Not only was my health seriously at risk during and after my procedure, but the liposuction had left my legs disfigured, saggy and horrible to look at. My legs were out of shape mainly because the surgeon didn’t do my knees, as this was an additional cost I was not made aware of! I was left with skinny legs and bulging knees.

Just when you think it can’t get worse, my dance with death continued because my incompetent overseas surgeon couldn’t have cared less about me. I was put straight on a plane to Australia where he didn’t have to deal with me anymore. This was the biggest risk, because I ended up with multiple blood clots in my legs and had to go into hospital for another 4 days, thankfully this time in quality, Australian medical care.

I was a 35-year-old woman, but my legs had looked more like those of an 80-year-old woman. The cost of repairing the damage ran into the thousands of dollars, and so I had to work away (FIFO) to pay for it. This wasn’t where the costs ended though, the experience of having a body I was embarrassed about, really knocked my self-worth and confidence. How do you put a price on that?

Recovery in Australia

Absolute Cosmetic Medicine’s Dr Murray is the experienced Australian surgeon who repaired the shaping of my legs and finally performed the breast augmentation procedure I am happy with. I am in a unique position where I have experienced both the result of ‘medical tourism’ and cosmetic surgery at home in Australia, and I can tell you; there is a difference that is worth paying a little more for. Dr Murray has been amazing towards me in helping me through the recovery process of my surgeries with him. Not only did I feel that he cared about my health and giving me good results, but I had scheduled follow up reviews and he was available to me if I had any concerns.

Recovering from my overseas surgery was a horrible chapter in my life, but I don’t allow it affect my life in a negative way, I am not bitter or angry at all, it was a decision I made purely on my own and I take responsibility for it. I just wish I knew then, what I know now, which is why I want to help others avoid my mistake.

Not Worth the Risk

To anyone considering having cosmetic surgery overseas, I hope my story helps you realise that the worst case scenario is death and it is a very real risk in the wrong hands. I hope my story is a sobering reminder of the extra risks you take when you have cosmetic surgery overseas and see the benefits of having surgery at home in Australia. My advice is to make sure that you really understand these extra risks and at least get a local, second opinion. Remember that you are not just comparing the price but more importantly comparing how safe you will be along with the surgeon’s skill and experience. Given my horror story, I think that you will find that no matter how cheap it can be, having cosmetic surgery overseas isn’t worth risking your life, health and body over.


Medical tourism results in botched breast augmentation

The patient you can see in the photograph to the left had a horrific experience having her breast implants performed overseas and later came to Absolute Cosmetic Medicine for repair work.

In addition to the poor surgery you can see, this woman who was only booked in for breast augmentation also received extra botched surgery she didn’t ask for – an uneven breast lift with further scarring. This photographed breast became infected and as such became swollen to almost twice the size of the other breast and oozed brown pus.  The surgeons sent her home anyway with only oral antibiotics and told her to see her GP who was shocked.  This took six months to heal with our care and occasionally a black, inferior suture will still pop through the skin in a ball of pus.

The result overall was terrible and one breast is square.  This was not optimum care and she needed to be looked closely by a doctor that is nearby to where her surgery is so that she didn’t need to travel.  This woman should not have flown in her condition and there was no care or accountability shown when she was told to refer to her GP for recovery.  This case illustrates the fact that problems can take months to heal and most patients cannot stay overseas for months or afford the care as there is no medicare overseas to pay for corrective medical treatment or care.

Overseas Surgery Warning

I noticed you have some stories on the dangers of having overseas surgery and I would like to share my very unfortunate story, to warn others of just how dangerous it is.

Right from the start, I had a very bad feeling and everything went wrong. My only consultation with a very young surgeon was on the morning of my operation and lasted 10 minutes. It was documented that he was to perform septoplasty (a procedure to straighten the nasal septum) and if necessary, rhinoplasty, should he need to change the shape of my nose due to the internal work.

 breast implants perth

Couldn’t Eat or Talk

The surgery took an incredible 5 hours and I bled profusely (a few months later I was diagnosed with Von Willebrand’s – a blood clotting disorder). The surgeon informed me there was so much blood during the procedure and that is why it took so long. My face looked absolutely horrific. My eyes were red raw and hugely swollen with just slits for me to see. My actual face and nose, so swollen I couldn’t eat or talk properly. I have pictures of this time and can’t believe it is me.

Fast forward a few weeks, after my return home, I became very, very ill with an unexplained infection in my nose. This infection remained for six months and I was on the strongest medication my body could handle, plus under the care of a top ENT Specialist in Perth. Long story short, something had been left in my nose (foreign object) which had become infected and made me constantly ill. After six months (and under the care of a microbiologist in Perth who gave me a staggering amount of toxic medication to kill the bug) this object fell out of my nose and the infection cleared up.

Never Seek Overseas Surgery

However, the problems with my nose became worse. Whereas before the operation I could breathe a little, afterwards, there was no airflow out of my right nostril whatsoever and my nose had collapsed inside. Unbelievably, the hospital admitted in writing that they had only performed rhinoplasty and didn’t touch my septum, which was the reason I was having surgery in the first place!

I am out of pocket $15,000 and would never, ever recommend anybody seek overseas surgery. I have looked into legal action and the lawyer said I absolutely have a case, but it would take years of fighting with the Thai Medical Board and a lot of money and it wasn’t worth it. The company I went through completely wiped their hands of me. Indeed, management said, “well, what do you want us to do about it?”

Overseas botched neck lift. Disfigured and it didn’t work.

Don’t Fall For the Glossy Brochure

People shouldn’t be wooed by the glossy brochures and cheap medical ‘holiday’ because of the very real threat of dying in these third world countries.

Just last week, I underwent the second operation on my nose, through my wonderful ENT surgeon in Perth. He said my nose was quite a mess inside, my septum crooked and bones sticking out where they shouldn’t be. I am so happy now because I can breathe and also put all of this behind me.

If this account helps just one person not pursue overseas surgery then I am happy and my journey was for a reason.

(Author’s details supplied)

Get a Face-to-Face Consultation

Cosmetic surgery overseas is not as carefully regulated as in Australia. There’s much less face-to-face consultation to explain an operation and ensure informed decisions are made.

It’s in your best interests to find out as much information about your procedure as possible and ask your doctor any questions, including their qualifications and experience before you proceed.

Find out more about why you should avoid cheap cosmetic surgery holidays or get a second opinion on your planned procedure. Book a consultation or contact us for more information.