Traveling for Medical Care? Don’t Count on Spa Time?>

Traveling for Medical Care? Don’t Count on Spa Time

by Larry Lindner  

The word “tourism” in the phrase “medical tourism” notwithstanding, traveling abroad for surgery or other significant medical treatment is a serious matter. It’s not like you’re going to get a new hip in India on Monday and see the Taj Mahal on Tuesday, or get a tummy tuck in South Africa and see elephants on safari the day after.

And you should be wary of medical tourism agencies that overemphasize the exotic locale and beach resorts, along with such vacation frills as shopping and pampering in spas.

The truth is that “many medical tourists won’t experience much downtime,” says Wil­liam Pereira, M.D., M.P.H., a member of our editorial board who now resides in Thailand, where he’s observed the complexities of finding quality health care there. “It depends on the condition for which you’ve sought treatment and the particulars of any proce­dures done—for example, dental implants or a facelift versus open heart surgery.”

On top of that, there are a number of contraindications after various procedures that may prevent you from engaging in vacation activities. For instance, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons cau­tions those who have had laser treatment or cosmetic surgery on their face to not sunbathe, drink alcohol, swim, take long excursions, or exercise after the procedure. You will need to check with the doctor performing the procedure about the specific cautions for your case.

This article first appeared in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.