Lasik Q & A

Are You Considering Lasik Surgery Outside the U.S ?

What with the ready availability of LASIK surgery in the United States, few patients have considered seeking it elsewhere, but the growing popularity of these advanced refractive surgeries has led to a global boom in this field, and LASIK surgery is now available virtually worldwide. While it would seem counter-intuitive to travel abroad for a surgery you can receive in the nearest city, many LASIK patients are doing just that to take advantage of the significantly lower costs offered by foreign surgeons.

The concept of traveling overseas for surgeries and other medical procedures is not a new one. This practice is called medical tourism. While some medical tourists travel to take advantage of technology not yet available in the United States, others go abroad for the heavily discounted rates. This trend is growing as travel becomes more accessible and foreign technology improves to the point of being comparable to, or sometimes even better than, American medical technology.

Because LASIK is still considered an elective surgery by most American insurance providers, it is rarely covered by patients’ health care packages. This makes the reduced costs offered by surgeons overseas that much more appealing. The countries medical tourists most commonly seek refractive surgery in are Canada, India, and Thailand.

These countries and many more are actually advertising their services in America now to take advantage of the growing trend. They frequently promote the procedure as an opportunity to take a vacation at the same time. In fact, many patients considering this option can purchase a package that includes not only the price of the surgery but of airfare and a hotel.

Supporters of the medical tourism movement say that American operations are over-priced, and the quality offered by foreign surgeons is comparable, making off shore operations an obvious choice for money-minded patients.

Detractors argue that domestic patients cannot have a proper follow-up with their foreign doctors and that the strain of travel might stress the patient and their eyes, thereby increasing the risk of complications. Despite these arguments, medical tourism continues to increase.

If medical tourism appeals to you make sure you do your research before you travel? Get credentials and references on any surgeons you are considering. Be sure that the doctor and their facility are accredited or affiliated with a regional association for quality control. Ask for references from other American patients.

Even once you have arrived, be sure to inspect the place where you will be receiving your operation in advance. Speak at length with your surgeon, and insist on a proper screening. You should plan to stay long enough to have an initial follow-up with your surgeon, and should receive detailed instructions on how to handle your recovery.

There are good and bad doctors everywhere, even in the United States. Whether you choose to have the operation here or abroad, doing your research is the best way to find one you can trust.

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