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Complications Associated with Medical Tourism for Facial Rejuvenation: A Systematic Review



Medical tourism for cosmetic surgery has become increasingly popular in recent years. The existing literature has identified poor outcomes associated with general cosmetic tourism; however, the complications associated with cosmetic tourism for facial rejuvenation remain poorly understood. The aims of this study are to delineate the risk profile associated with medical tourism for facial rejuvenation.


A systematic review of PubMed, MEDLINE, and Embase was performed through January 2019 using the PRISMA guidelines. Search terms included combinations of keywords including medical tourism and plastic surgery and other related nomenclature. Articles published in English relevant to medical tourism for facial rejuvenation and its associated complications were examined.


We identified six retrospective studies including 31 patients who had obtained facial rejuvenation procedures abroad and experienced treatment-associated complications. Twenty-five of 26 listed patients (96%) were female (age range 33–62 years). Departure nations included the USA, Switzerland, England, Ireland, Australia, and Thailand. Destination nations included the Dominican Republic, Cyprus, the USA, Colombia, Thailand, India, and China. Procedures included blepharoplasty, facelift, rhinoplasty, chin lift, and injections with botulinum toxin and dermal fillers. Complications included abscess, poor cosmesis, facial nerve palsy, and death.


We present the first study to systematically review the complications associated with medical tourism for facial rejuvenation. No definitive conclusions can be made given the paucity of relevant data, its clinical and statistical heterogeneity, and small sample size. Additional research is warranted to help inform patients who seek facial rejuvenation procedures abroad and to better understand the health system implications associated with cosmetic tourism for facial rejuvenation.

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The authors would like to acknowledge Benjamin Bryant, Medical Librarian at Ochsner Health System, and Mary Holt, Medical Librarian at Tulane University Health Sciences Center, for assistance with creating the systematic review search strategy.

Author information

All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Material preparation, data collection, and analysis were performed by all authors. The first draft of the manuscript was written by BR and RA, and all authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Correspondence to Blake S. Raggio.

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All authors confirm that there are no sources of funding, and there are no financial or non-financial conflicts of interest to report.

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Given this study was a systematic review of the literature, no study-specific approval was required according to the Tulane University institutional review board and ethics committee for research involving humans and/or animals. The research did not involve animals.

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Informed consent was not applicable since the research did not involve human participants.

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Raggio, B.S., Brody-Camp, S.A., Jawad, B.A. et al. Complications Associated with Medical Tourism for Facial Rejuvenation: A Systematic Review. Aesth Plast Surg (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00266-020-01638-w

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  • Medical tourism
  • Plastic surgery
  • Outcomes
  • Complications