Cosmetic tourism for breast augmentation: A systematic review

Louise Brightman, Sze Ng, Susannah Ahern, Rodney Cooter, Ingrid Hopper

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The medical tourism industry, and in particular cosmetic tourism for breast augmentation, is becoming an increasingly popular global phenomenon. The objective of this study is to determine the extent of medical literature and the patient risk profiles associated with cosmetic tourism for breast augmentation both locally and abroad. Data sources: OVID MEDLINE, OVID Embase, Cochrane Central and Proquest electronic databases. Methods: The search was conducted through to April 2017. Studies pertaining entirely or partly to cosmetic tourism for breast augmentation were considered for inclusion. Exclusion criteria included non-English articles, studies relating to non-cosmetic or non-implant breast augmentation, and studies that did not separately report on findings associated with breast augmentation abroad. Results: We identified 17 observational studies. Common destinations included Europe, South America and South East Asia. Infectious complications were common. Wound dehiscence and aesthetic dissatisfaction also featured. Catastrophic outcomes such as sepsis, intubation and ventilation, radical bilateral mastectomy, irreversible hypoxic brain injury and death were also reported. There were expectations that home country health systems would treat complications and provide non-medically indicated revision procedures. The burden on home country health systems was evident from a public health perspective. Conclusion: Determining the extent of cosmetic tourism for breast augmentation, including outcomes and complications, will help to inform Australian patients who this seek procedure abroad. Furthermore, it will aid in better understanding the health system implications and may help to guide future research and public health interventions both locally and internationally.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)842-847
Number of pages6
JournalANZ Journal of Surgery
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018


  • other category
  • plastic and reconstructive surgery
  • breast surgery

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