5 Tips for Talking with Family and Friends About Surgery Abroad

Christie Auyeung Dental, Orthopedic Surgery, Plastic Surgery, Weight Loss Surgery Leave a Comment

Talking with family and friends about your decision to have surgery abroad can be scary or anxiety-inducing. We want the support of the people we care about, especially for an important decision like surgery. But your friends and family may not be immediately comfortable with the idea of you traveling for surgery. They might ask, “What’s wrong with you?” or even “Are you crazy?” Such negative reactions may make you feel dismissed, criticized, or judged.

Whether you choose to talk to your family and friends about surgery abroad is a personal decision. Some patients don’t want to tell anyone, and depending on the surgery, may not ever have to. Whether you decide to share, who you choose tell, and how you approach the discussion will depend on your specific situation.

If you do decide to talk with your friends and family about surgery abroad, here are 5 tips to keep in mind that will hopefully make the conversation easier.

1. Do your research beforehand

Concern and fear often stem from misinformation or lack of knowledge. When your family or friends first hear that you will be traveling abroad for surgery, they may not be familiar with your procedure or feel fearful about you traveling to a foreign country. People who care about you often simply want to make sure that you are safe and well taken care of. Explaining what will happen before, during and after surgery will help ease their discomfort and see eye-to-eye with you. Do research on your procedure, the country (and city) you’ve chosen, the surgeon you will be working with, and the benefits and risks of the procedure. Talking with your surgeon beforehand can help give you all the information you need for this conversation.

2. Know your reasons

One question you are likely to get is “Why?” Your friends and family may wonder why you think you need surgery, and why you want to travel to another country for it. Whether you are having surgery to enhance your appearance, raise your self esteem, or to address a medical issue, understanding your own reasons thoroughly will help you more confidently convey your case. Chances are when your friends and family hear your reasons, they will be more likely to support you.

3. Consider who to tell and how to tell them

You don’t necessarily have to tell everyone. Patients may want to tell their spouses, parents, siblings and friends. For practical reasons, you may also need to let your employer know if you will need to take time off from work. But maybe you don’t want to tell your in-laws, or your mother, or anyone else, for any reason. Ultimately, you have to make a judgment call, as every situation is different.

When it comes to how to broach the subject, you may want to tell them in a group setting over a quiet meal. Or you may want to speak to loved ones individually. Some doctors recommend broaching the topic casually. Generally, it’s best to have the conversation in a place that isn’t too noisy, where you can get some privacy. 

4. Be straightforward and honest

If you’ve made a decision that you’re comfortable with, it’s best to be straightforward and honest about it. You can think of it as if you are telling your loved one that you’ve bought a car, house, or any other big purchase. Of course, surgery is exactly the same, but thinking about it that way can help you approach the conversation directly and honestly.

5. Stand your ground

If you have already made the choice to have plastic surgery abroad, it’s important to remember your reasons and not let others influence your decision. Just as you shouldn’t have plastic surgery to please others, you also should not let others talk you out of it. It’s easy to get offended if someone you care about disagrees with your decision. Try not to get defensive and emphasize why this is the right decision for your health and happiness.

Hopefully, when your friends and family more fully understand where you’re coming from, they will be likely to accept your decision, support you. In many cases, once they are on board, they may even want to help. Remember that your surgeon can be a great resource for you and your friends and family at any point. Although the discussion may be hard, there is a lot to be said about the satisfaction of being open and honest with your loved ones.

If you are considering surgery abroad or are interested in learning more, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our surgeons today!

Christie is a UChicago grad currently living in the San Francisco Bay Area. In her free time, she enjoys tap dancing, learning to windsurf, and trying new foods.