Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Friday 1 December 2023 Dublin: -2°C

'Medical tourists' urged to fully research their procedure and protections before travelling

A recent study found that people underestimate the risks involved with travelling abroad for bariatric surgery.

IRISH PEOPLE TRAVELLING abroad for surgery have been urged to ensure the facility and staff are accredited and that they will have access to proper aftercare.

A recent study found that people travelling abroad for bariatric surgery “underestimate the risks associated with” the procedure.

The RCSI has a document for people considering surgery abroad, which advises them to discuss the procedure with their doctor.

Speaking to The Journal, Prof Deborah McNamara, the vice president of RCSI and consultant surgeon in Beaumont Hospital, said: “The area that we had the most concern about was patients who make their own arrangements to travel abroad, who don’t always seek advice from their GP before they travel.”

McNamara said it is difficult to say which procedures are most common among so-called “medical tourists” in Ireland, but the overseas surgeries which most often see complications are cosmetic procedures and weight-loss operations.

She said her colleagues in orthopaedics have also reported patients with clots or infections after procedures such as hip replacements.

The RCSI guidelines also advise that people research the rights and protections of patients in the country in which they are having surgery. McNamara said that “within the European Union, there are some protections that are guaranteed by law”, but outside the EU, regulation of surgical procedures is very different.

One of our concerns is that the hospitals and clinics that people are travelling to, they don’t have the same degree of regulation as Irish hospitals do, whether public or private

Patients are also advised to carefully consider the hospital where the procedure will be done, as sometimes these “are not in fact, major hospitals, they’re often small clinics”, particularly for cosmetic surgery.

McNamara said: “Is it an accredited clinic? Who has accredited [it]?

“Who are the doctors and nurses who be caring for the patient, and how are they regulated?”

The RSCI also advises that patients arrange appropriate post-surgery care. This may involve bringing someone with them for the overseas surgery who can help them get home safely.

Air travel is associated with an increased risk of blood clots. In Ireland, people undergoing hip or knee replacement are told not to travel by plane for up to six weeks after their operation.

The document states: “Undergoing surgery is about more than just having a procedure. Careful planning and preparation are required to get the best results.”

It also says that “surgeons understand – and share – the frustration experienced by patients who face long delays in accessing hospital beds for surgery”.

The RCSI’s full guidelines are available to read at

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel