More warnings about overseas cosmetic surgery

27 March 2015 | Australians warned about the dangers of travelling overseas for surgery after death in Mexico.

'Nip-tuck tourism' warning

The tragic death of a Gold Coast woman in Mexico during a cosmetic surgery procedure has experts warning Australians to consider the risks before travelling overseas for cosmetic surgery.

Evita Sarmonikas from Queensland died last week from a cardiac arrest during surgery for buttock implants. It's been reported that Ms Sarmonikas had travelled to Mexicali in Mexico with her partner to have the surgery.

This tragic event has highlighted the risks to Australians seeking out medical procedures overseas, despite the growing popularity of 'nip-tuck tourism'.

A recent report estimated that Australians spend $300m a year on cosmetic surgery tourism, with an estimated 15,000 Australians heading offshore each year to go under the knife. Many are attracted to the competitive prices offered by the surgeons and the hospitals, as well as the opportunity to have a holiday afterwards. The report also showed that many agents who facilitate the overseas surgery are increasingly encouraging consumers to look abroad.

What are the risks?

While plenty of people choosing this option are reporting positive experiences, local medicos say they're seeing a steady increase in Australians returning home with surgery complications, leaving the Australian medical system to pick up the pieces.

"Over the last few years we've seen an increasing number of people arrive as outpatients or at emergency departments with complications often related to breast implants, atypical infections… bad things like losing both nipples," says Dr Anthony Kane, president of the ASPS. Dr Kane says that although there are known complications associated with any surgery, he is seeing an increasing number of patients returning from South-East Asia with problems.

Do your research

This week the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons went on the record to state while it wasn't against overseas surgery, patients should do their research thoroughly before making any decisions, including research regarding infection control, the facilities and the qualifications of the surgeons. 

For more information on cosmetic surgery tourism, head to our full report.