Early Surgical Management of Medical Tourism Complications Improves Patient Outcomes

Kian Adabi, Carrie S. Stern, Corin M. Kinkhabwala, Katie E. Weichman, Evan S. Garfein, Oren M. Tepper, J. Alejandro Conejero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Complications from medical tourism can be significant, requiring aggressive treatment at initial presentation. This study evaluates the effect of early surgical versus conservative management on readmission rates and costs. Methods: A single-center retrospective review was conducted from May of 2013 to May of 2017 of patients presenting with soft-tissue infections after cosmetic surgery performed abroad. Patients were categorized into two groups based on their management at initial presentation as either conservative or surgical. Demographic information, the procedures performed abroad, and the severity of infection were included. The authors' primary outcome was the incidence of readmission in the two groups. International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision; International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision; and CPT codes were used for direct-billed cost analysis. Results: Fifty-three patients (one man and 52 women) presented with complications after procedures performed abroad, of which 37 were soft-tissue infections. Twenty-four patients with soft-tissue infections at initial presentation were managed conservatively, and 13 patients were treated surgically. The two groups were similar in patient demographics and type of procedure performed abroad. Patients who were managed conservatively at initial presentation had a higher rate of readmission despite having lower severity of infections (OR, 4.7; p = 0.037). A significantly lower total cost of treatment was shown with early surgical management of these complications (p = 0.003). Conclusions: Conservative management of complications from medical tourism has resulted in a high incidence of failure, leading to readmission and increased costs. This can contribute to poor outcomes in patients that are already having complications from cosmetic surgery. CLINICAL QUESTION/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapeutic, III.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1147-1154
Number of pages8
JournalPlastic and reconstructive surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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