Liposuction Costs Across the Globe: Is It Worth Getting Lipo Abroad?

Medical tourism is on the rise. The biggest motivation is the promise of significantly lower surgery costs abroad. After looking into the prices of the most popular surgery destinations abroad, we’ve concluded that cosmetic surgery trips are rarely worth it financially, let alone the significantly increased health risks. According to Patients Beyond Borders, medical tourism is growing by 15-25% every year in the United States. In 2019, it is estimated that up to 1.9 million Americans will opt to go abroad for medical procedures—involving elective plastic surgery. At first, it can be difficult to see why seeking cosmetic adjustments abroad is a risky proposition. Besides the obvious motivation—alluring prices—many tourists simply enjoy the fact that they can return from their holidays looking better. Two birds with one stone. Many, for example, cannot afford to take 1-2 weeks off work, which is the standard recovery period after undergoing liposuction. The vacation, then, seems like the perfect opportunity to deal with that fat bulge once and for all. A couple of hours in the surgeon’s office and then back to skydiving and exploring ancient old towns? Who wouldn’t take that deal? The reality, however, is often much more disappointing.

Three Women Who Got Plastic Surgery Abroad

It is not rare for us here at Aristocrat Plastic Surgery to receive patients who are seeking corrections after unsuccessful medical tourism trips. The general pattern is that the issues start emerging only after the patients return back home. Three readers of the Mirror have openly spoken about their experiences with plastic surgery abroad.

Cleryl Faunch, 61: Asymmetrical Facelift, Remaining Stitches

Cheryl Faunch, a 61 year old mum-of-one has been seduced by a saleswoman working at a clinic in Wroclaw, Poland. Cheryl wanted to restore a youthful appearance in her face, neck and upper-eye area with the help of several lifts, and the clinic representative led her to believe that the effects would last for a lifetime. The procedure itself was uneventful and smooth. The Englishwoman was administered local anaesthesia, and she didn’t feel much discomfort during the operation. The whole journey seemed like a big success, and Cheryl didn’t see any issues during her medical retreat. However, everyone who’s been under the knife knows that the results of a surgical procedure are never to be judged right after procedure. To properly evaluate the new look, it is necessary to wait until the swelling and bruising goes away fully—which can take up to a few months. Soon after her flight home, Cheryl noticed that some stitches had been left by the doctors in Wroclaw. The woman had to ask her dentist to remove the remaining stitches from her face. But the problems didn’t end there. As the bruising and swelling gradually went away, the poor quality of the procedure became increasingly prominent. “My face was bruised and swollen for six weeks, but when it went down my neck skin and jowls were still loose.” The woman wrote. “Too much had been taken off one eyebag, and not enough off the other. When you do a face-lift, you’re supposed to lift the muscles underneath and the skin, but he’d only lifted the skin.” The travel agency that arranged the whole journey refused to help, claiming that they were “only a third party” in the whole process. The clinic in Wroclaw agreed to re-do the procedure free of charge—given that Cheryl would arrange the flights and hotel stays herself. “It was a waste of time and money,” the woman concluded.

Sue Briddick, 52: Medical Emergency After Tummy Tuck, Scarring

Sue Briddick, a 52 year old mother of three, opted to have her tummy tuck surgery in Turkey purely due to financial reasons. After the NHS had rejected the mother’s requests to fund the operation, she quickly learned the market price of the surgery in the UK—GBP 11,000, almost 14,000 in US dollars—which was way above her financial capabilities at the time. Naturally, the $4,500 travel plan—which included flights, accommodation and the tummy tuck surgery—sounded like a deal too good to be true. Sadly, it was. The first red flags were raised when the clinic demanded payment in cash. Despite her doubts, Sue decided to go through with the procedure: “After a four-hour journey, when I got there I changed my mind. I just wanted to go home. But they coaxed me into staying.” The trip didn’t get much better after the procedure. “After the two-hour operation, I went to stay with the carer who wasn’t medically trained and her apartment was covered in cat hair,” the woman wrote. But the worst was yet to come. “A few days later, I went back to the hospital to have my dressings changed and when the bandages came off I noticed the skin on my tummy had turned black. They told me it was bruising and it would go away. It wasn’t until I got back home a couple of days later and showed my husband he said my skin was dead. I was horrified.” The condition sue was suffering from is called necrosis. Her skin cells were dead around the surgical site, and she needed urgent medical assistance: “Days later, my mum paid for me to see a private surgeon who told me I had to go to hospital or I’d die. Every part of me the surgeon had touched had an infection called necrosis, where not enough blood gets to your body tissue so it dies. They had to scrape off the dead flesh and take a skin graft from my thigh. I was in hospital for a month and I felt bad using the NHS but at the same time I was practically dying.” It was a horrifying experience. Besides the health risks Sue was put under, the procedure left devastating scars in her abdomen area. Once again, the clinic elected to fix the damage for free—but they refused to pay for Sue’s flights and accommodation. All subsequent attempts to contact the clinic in regards to financial reimbursement had been ignored.

The Biggest Issue With Getting Plastic Surgery Abroad

Stories like these are not rare. Many men and women who have bad experiences with foreign surgical centers never come forward—perhaps they are too ashamed to admit they got ‘scammed’, or perhaps because they would simply like to forget and move past the traumatic event. Is it a qualification problem? Are surgeons abroad simply not good enough to deliver a satisfactory surgical outcome? We strongly believe that there are good and bad surgeons both in the U.S. and everywhere else in the world. It is a severe oversimplification—and, most likely, an incorrect assumption—that foreign surgeons, as a rule, are less qualified than American ones. No, the real problem lies elsewhere. Here in the U.S., plastic surgeons build their practices on trust and integrity. For a cosmetic surgeon operating in the U.S., reputation is everything. Most of our new patients here at Aristocrat Plastic Surgery come in the form of referrals. Our happy patients who have the chance to work with Dr. Tehrani or one of our aestheticians are so satisfied with their outcomes that they naturally recommend our practice to their friends and colleagues. A large part of our procedures are also requested by our previous patients. Cosmetic surgery is usually not a one-off event—it is a journey of continuous self-improvement. It’s a relationship—an aesthetic partnership, even. Many of our patients get to know Dr. Tehrani well—they’re not only comfortable in his expertise; they trust him and, by extension, the rest of our practice. In a market as sensitive as plastic surgery, there’s no other way to do business, really. It is an intimate service that changes our patients’ lives in many ways. We’re not selling electronics here. Last, but not least, we have protection mechanisms here in the U.S. Take, for example, the Board Certification issued by the The American Board of Plastic Surgery. Surgeons go through rigorous training and examination to get the Certificate, not to mention the extensive list of prerequisites to be eligible. Such measures help patients choose the surgeons they can trust. While there can be similar mechanisms abroad, it is not possible to research their credibility fully, nor most patients will have the time to do so. With plastic and cosmetic surgery providers abroad, however, the story is entirely different. First and foremost, there is a lack of accountability. Most foreign clinics do not rely on their reputation for new orders. As long as medical tourists are routed to their practices through medical tourism agencies and online websites, they’ll be in a position where compromising patient safety and satisfaction is an acceptable option. But there are other factors at play, too. In many foreign countries, the very culture of how patients are treated is different. In South Korea, for example, the whole process of undergoing cosmetic surgery is more characteristic to a manufacturing production line, rather than an institution where deeply personalized care is offered. This isn’t just how they treat foreigners—it’s how they treat all of their patients. As far as pricing is concerned, expect surprises upon arrival. Many medical tourism websites will list lower prices on purpose, only for you to find that the actual bill is much larger than promised. For someone who is looking for a discounted procedure, this can be a real disappointment.

Practical Issues with Surgery Abroad

There are many practical issues with getting a surgery abroad, too. For example, it is very common for foreign surgeons to speak poor English. In most cases, a translator will be provided—however, it is usually an administrative employee at the clinic who are not fluent in the language themselves. The patient is then forced to communicate information as sensitive as surgery details through a foreign language filter. Many medical tourists expect to have the surgery and enjoy their trip, too. However, with more major procedures, the patient is often left bed-bound in the hotel room for at least a few days. It’s difficult to do sightseeing the next day after a facelift, so unless you’re staying there for a month, you won’t get much out of your vacation. We don’t even want to talk about complications. If any complications arise while you’re still abroad, you might be required to extend your stay—which means buying new flight tickets, postponing work projects and social events—or, even worse, flying home before a complication is resolved. If the complication occurs or you see any defects with your surgery after you get back home, the situation is not much better for the patient. Practice shows that while foreign clinics agree to re-do the procedures for free, they will not pay for repeat flights and accommodation. And, for patients seeking cheaper surgery abroad, seeking surgical corrections back home often spells financial disaster. Speaking of flights, it should be noted that it is not recommended to fly for at least a few weeks after the procedure. Pressure changes increase the chances of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a technical term for blood clots—a very dangerous condition. If blood clots do form during your flight, you may not receive the proper medical assistance.

United States of America

The average cost of liposuction procedures in the United states is $3,518, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. According to nearly 500 patient reviews and our analysis, the actual liposuction costs are just above $5,000 on average. For the following state-by-state cost analysis, only prices in the largest cities in each state were considered. The choice was made for two reasons:
  • Liposuction costs in smaller cities and towns are scarce, providing a skewed representation of the average prices
  • From the few reviews we do have in regards to liposuction procedures in smaller cities, the prices are considerably lower in those locations, which, in turn, contributes to the distorted image of price averages
If the reader is interested in liposuction prices in smaller cities and towns, it is safe to estimate costs based on the state capital prices, giving them a 25-35% discount. For example, if the average liposuction price in Montgomery, Alabama is $5,000, then it would be safe to say that in smaller cities in the state, the patient could expect to pay $3,500-4,000 for the very same procedure. All of the following data for liposuction prices in the United States has been based on Realself patient reviews.

Montgomery, Alabama (369 Patient Reviews) (U.S. Averages)

The average cost of liposuction procedures in Alabama is $5,025. Price range based on patient reviews: $1,500 – $9,500.

Phoenix, Arizona (7 Patient Reviews)

The average cost of liposuction procedures in Arizona is $5,375. Price range based on patient reviews: $4,000 – $6,700.

Sacramento, California (2 Patient Reviews)

The average cost of liposuction procedures in California is $6,500. Price range based on patient reviews: $6,000 – $7,000.

Denver, Colorado (3 Patient Reviews)

The average cost of liposuction procedures in Colorado is $4,950. Price range based on patient reviews: $4,100 – $6,000.

Old Greenwich, Connecticut (2 Patient Reviews)

The average cost of liposuction procedures in Connecticut is $7,050. Price range based on patient reviews: $4,900 – $9,200.

Newark, Delaware (7 Patient Reviews)

The average cost of liposuction procedures in Colorado is $4,075. Price range based on patient reviews: $2,000 – $7,000.

Miami, Florida (7 Patient Reviews)

The average cost of liposuction procedures in Florida is $4,625. Price range based on patient reviews: $3,900 – $5,400.

Atlanta, Georgia (7 Patient Reviews)

The average cost of liposuction procedures in Georgia is $4,475. Price range based on patient reviews: $2,650 – $7,000.

Honolulu, Hawaii (2 Patient Reviews)

The average cost of liposuction procedures in Hawaii is $6,300. Price range based on patient reviews: $5,600 – $7,000.

Coeur D’Alene, Idaho (369 Patient Reviews) (U.S. Averages)

The average cost of liposuction procedures in Idaho is $5,025. Price range based on patient reviews: $1,500 – $9,500.

Chicago, Illinois (7 Patient Reviews)

The average cost of liposuction procedures in Illinois is $6,075. Price range based on patient reviews: $2,400 – $12,000.

Indianapolis, Indiana (2 Patient Reviews)

The average cost of liposuction procedures in Indiana is $8,400. Price range based on patient reviews: $8,000 – $8,775.

Kansas City, Kansas (3 Patient Reviews)

The average cost of liposuction procedures in Kansas is $6,425. Price range based on patient reviews: $5,000 – $7,500.

Louisville, Kentucky (412 Patient Reviews)

The average cost of liposuction procedures in Kentucky is $5,150. Price range based on patient reviews: $1,500 – $9,500.

New Orleans, Louisiana (369 Patient Reviews)

The average cost of liposuction procedures in Louisiana is $5,025. Price range based on patient reviews: $1,500 – $9,500.

Annapolis, Maryland (2 Patient Reviews)

The average cost of liposuction procedures in Maryland is $6,400. Price range based on patient reviews: $6,300 – $6,500.

Boston, Massachusetts (2 Patient Reviews) (U.S. Averages)

The average cost of liposuction procedures in Massachusetts is $5,150. Price range based on patient reviews: $1,500 – $9,500.

Grand Rapids, Michigan (493 Patient Reviews) (U.S. Averages)

The average cost of liposuction procedures in Michigan is $5,150. Price range based on patient reviews: $1,500 – $9,500.

Minneapolis, Minnesota (3 Patient Reviews)

The average cost of liposuction procedures in Minnesota is $6,350. Price range based on patient reviews: $3,675 – $8,000.

Kansas City, Missouri (3 Patient Reviews)

The average cost of liposuction procedures in Missouri is $6,425. Price range based on patient reviews: $5,000 – $7,500.

Lincoln, Nebraska (369 Patient Reviews) (U.S. Averages)

The average cost of liposuction procedures in Nebraska is $5,150. Price range based on patient reviews: $1,500 – $9,500.

Las Vegas, Nevada (3 Patient Reviews)

The average cost of liposuction procedures in Nevada is $8,475. Price range based on patient reviews: $8,450 – $8,500.

Newark, New Jersey (2 Patient Reviews)

The average cost of liposuction procedures in New Jersey is $6,350. Price range based on patient reviews: $5,600 – $7,100.

New York, New York (10 Patient Reviews)

The average cost of liposuction procedures in New York is $3,325. Price range based on patient reviews: $1,400 – $4,550.

Charlotte, North Carolina (2 Patient Reviews)

The average cost of liposuction procedures in North Carolina is $5,450. Price range based on patient reviews: $3,500 – $7,400.

Cleveland, Ohio (369 Patient Reviews) (U.S. Averages)

The average cost of liposuction procedures in Ohio is $5,150. Price range based on patient reviews: $1,500 – $9,500.

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (369 Patient Reviews) (U.S. Averages)

The average cost of liposuction procedures in Oklahoma is $5,150. Price range based on patient reviews: $1,500 – $9,500.

Portland, Oregon (5 Patient Reviews)

The average cost of liposuction procedures in Oregon is $7,950. Price range based on patient reviews: $6,000 – $9,000.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (6 Patient Reviews)

The average cost of liposuction procedures in Pennsylvania is $4,075. Price range based on patient reviews: $2,000 – $7,000.

Pawtucket, Rhode Island (369 Patient Reviews) (U.S. Averages)

The average cost of liposuction procedures in Rhode Island is $5,150. Price range based on patient reviews: $1,500 – $9,500.

Beaufort, South Carolina (2 Patient Reviews)

The average cost of liposuction procedures in South Carolina is $5,750. Price range based on patient reviews: $4,500 – $7,000.

Memphis, Tennessee (2 Patient Reviews)

The average cost of liposuction procedures in Tennessee is $6,250. Price range based on patient reviews: $5,000 – $7,500.

Houston, Texas (11 Patient Reviews)

The average cost of liposuction procedures in Texas is $4,350. Price range based on patient reviews: $2,000 – $7,000.

Salt Lake City, Utah (369 Patient Reviews) (U.S. Averages)

The average cost of liposuction procedures in Utah is $5,150. Price range based on patient reviews: $1,500 – $9,500.

Richmond, Virginia (369 Patient Reviews) (U.S. Averages)

The average cost of liposuction procedures in Virginia is $5,150. Price range based on patient reviews: $1,500 – $9,500.

Washington D.C. (369 Patient Reviews) (U.S. Averages)

The average cost of liposuction procedures in Washington D.C. is $5,150. Price range based on patient reviews: $1,500 – $9,500.

Middleton, Wisconsin (369 Patient Reviews) (U.S. Averages)

The average cost of liposuction procedures in Wisconsin is $5,150. Price range based on patient reviews: $1,500 – $9,500.

London, United Kingdom (3 Patient Reviews)

The average cost of liposuction procedures in London, UK is $5,875. Price range based on patient reviews: $2,600 – $11,000.

Toronto, Canada (3 Patient Reviews)

The average cost of liposuction procedures in Toronto, Canada is $7,300. Price range based on patient reviews: $7,000 – $7,500.

Egypt (11 Patient Reviews)

The average cost of liposuction procedures in Toronto, Canada is $4,775. Price range based on patient reviews: $2,450 – $7,000.

Mexico

The average price of liposuction in Mexico is $2,100. Some procedures in Mexico go as low as $1,300, according to the database of 22 plastic surgery providers in the country.

Tijuana

The average price of liposuction in Tijuana, Mexico is $2,750 (According to the Medical Tourism Corporation.) Here are the average prices for different types of liposuction in Tijuana:
  • Thighs and buttocks: $2,600
  • Abdomen: $3,200
  • Arms: $3,200
  • Back: $3,500
  • Liposculpture: $3,580-3,800

India

The average price of liposuction in India is $1,500. Here are price averages for each of the major cities in India:
  • Mumbai: $2,000
  • Banglore: $2,800
  • Chennai: $2,000
  • Delhi: $1,350
  • Hyderabad: $1,825
And here are the average liposuction costs for different types of procedures in India:
  • Chin liposuction: $432
  • Neck liposuction: $575
  • Arm liposuction: $791
  • Buttocks liposuction: $1,006
  • Thigh liposuction: $1,725
  • Abdomen liposuction: $1,941

South Africa

According to the available price data from 4 clinics in South Africa, the average liposuction cost is $3,285. The lowest liposuction cost listed in the country is $1,744.

South Korea

The average price of liposuction procedures in South Korea is $5,500.

Final Verdict: We Do Not Recommend Getting Liposuction Abroad

Medical tourism offers a tempting vision: get prettier for less, while still enjoying your vacation. However, due to the many differences between the plastic and cosmetic surgery cultures in the US and more exotic locations, patients put themselves at significant health risks when opting to go under the knife abroad. Moreover, after analysing liposuction costs in some of the world’s most popular plastic surgery destinations, we’ve found that the price disparity is often negligible. When you factor in transportation and accommodation costs, the decision to have elective plastic surgery abroad starts seeming absurd.