Dos and Don’ts
When I had surgery, reminding myself of what to expect was invaluable. I started Secret Surgery to help others considering medical tourism, and I’ve always wanted to pass on my experiences and advice with complete honesty. To save you the trouble, here’s my personal ‘dos and don’ts’ list:
- Do familiarise yourself with your country of choice. Check out local customs and culture, and make sure you have the relevant clothing and phrases to hand. It’s also important you know if and what vaccinations are necessary, and go to your GP to arrange these.
- Do have realistic expectations. If you’re travelling to enjoy the country’s attractions, make sure you’re aware of what you can and can’t do. Diving and going on safari sound great in theory, but you can’t expect to do these after undergoing major surgery! Cultural cities will be more suited to your needs, and the mild weather will aid recovery.
- Do remember your passport. Make sure it’s valid, and if you don’t have one, get one. You can’t consider surgery abroad without having the necessary documents first, so make sure you don’t miss the flight because you haven’t arranged the correct visas.
- Don’t go for cosmetic surgery based solely on pictures or basic email correspondence. You wouldn’t expect your GP to give you medication based on a photograph, so expect the same level of thoroughness from your chosen clinic and surgeon. It is good practice to at least have a virtual consultation in advance of agreeing the procedure but a face to face consultation a day or so before your actual procedure is necessary so that you do feel rushed into having a procedure without having all your questions fully explained.
- Don’t choose a country based purely on your wish to go there. Without fully checking out the reputation of your clinic or hospital of choice, you could be in for a holiday you’ll actually want to forget. A tropical destination is fine, but exotic surgery definitely isn’t! The thought of a lovely beach sounds divine but really you should be near water or the sun after a major procedure. The other thing to consider is how clean is the actual destination once you leave the sterile hospital/clinic as 3rd world countries could increase infection risks.
- Don’t go ahead with the procedure if you’re not 100% satisfied. You’re entitled to change your mind, and should always be given that right. Even if it’s five minutes before, you should voice any concerns and be treated with the respect you deserve. Having your 1st consultation and pre-op assessment on the morning of your procedure is worrying as you won’t be thinking straight and everything will be rushed – This really isn’t best for you.
- Do arrange a consultation with the anaesthetist too! They are also there to care for your welfare throughout the procedure and they should explain all the risks and potential complications and also get to know your wishes and expectations in advance of the procedure. Best practice dictates that you should have been asked to complete a medical questionnaire and send it to the surgeon and anaesthetist in advance of your arrival so that they have a chance to read through your medical history and ask any questions that they need or also request changes to current medications in preparation for a hassle free procedure on arrival. They’ll want to know about neurological issues, current pain medications, thyroid, diabetes, full blood test results or blood pressure issues as all of these plus other things will be important and can impact on your health and comfort during the procedure and also delay recovery.
- Do your research – Call the Company, speak to their team then ask yourself how difficult was it to communicate over the telephone? Ask to speak to previous patients – contact as many as possible and make sure these are genuine patients – ask for their before and after photos and then call them to find out more. If they live local then arrange to meet for a coffee and a chat in a nutral location. Something I picked up on when I researched was that one particular Company’s previous patients all seemed to email me very similarly worded phrased responses – watch out for this telltale sign.
Don’t miss the next blog (Part 10) What if something goes wrong – in the meantime remember pick the right questions to ask!