The Ever-Present Costs of Cosmetic Surgery Tourism: A 5-Year Observational Study



Cosmetic surgery tourism is an ever-growing industry. Despite its associated risks, an increasing number of patients are presenting to NHS services with resulting complications. This study aims to evaluate the current presentation patterns for complications in cosmetic surgery tourism, and the financial burden to the NHS reported by a single UK level one trauma centre in Birmingham, UK.


From 2015 to 2020, all patients presenting to the department of plastic surgery with complications of cosmetic surgery performed outside of the UK were included. Data were collected for patients’ characteristics including demographics, performed procedures, complications and treatment. A cost analysis was performed for each patient using published “National Schedule of NHS Costs.”


A total of 26 patients presented to our hospital within the study period. All patients were female, with the mean age being 35.1 years (range 22–55years). A total of 32 cosmetic procedures were undertaken, with the majority performed in Turkey (n = 14). Abdominoplasty was the most common procedure, followed by gluteal enhancement surgery. The total financial cost to the NHS from all cosmetic surgery-related complications was £152,946, with an average cost per patient of £5,882.54 (range £362–£26,585).


Patients seek out medical tourism for multiple reasons including cost savings, shorter waiting times and surgical expertise. The costs displayed should predominantly be viewed as a reflection of the detrimental effect these complications can have on patients’ lives. Global governing bodies should focus efforts on educating patients and raising awareness on this ever-prevalent issue.

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Correspondence to Nader Henry.

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Henry, N., Abed, H. & Warner, R. The Ever-Present Costs of Cosmetic Surgery Tourism: A 5-Year Observational Study. Aesth Plast Surg (2021).

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  • Aesthetic surgery
  • Cosmetic surgery tourism
  • Complications
  • Cost analysis
  • Patient safety
  • Patient education