Tijuana is Tops for Tequila...Not Plastic Surgery

Anonymous_1 on 29 Mar 2011 at 12:00am

Mexico's proximity to the U.S. lends itself nicely to quickie trips over the border for whatever your thrill of choice is - prescription drugs, cheap liquor or perhaps an in-and-out, same-day breast augmentation.

In the video clip below, patient Heather takes advantage of a cross-the-border plastic surgeon's quickie surgery (only "an hour" or so!), and gets a ride back from the doctor's chauffeur "as part of the services".

"Another happy patient..." we're told. The hospital is "a 12" on a scale of 1-10, Heather enthuses, and she also recommends "Dr. Hottie", her surgeon.

What's wrong with this scenario? Judging by the 25 responses from the physician community on RealSelf, there's quite a bit to be concerned about. 

What about aftercare? 

Surgery doesn't end on the day one goes under the knife. Scheduled follow-up visits ensure healing is monitored carefully and medical care administered as needed.

Dr. Richard Rand, Seattle plastic surgeon, asks: "Who will take care of her if she has a complication like a hematoma (can happen in the first 2 weeks after surgery), an infection, a capsular contracture, or for any other reason needs a revision for any issue like size?"

Complications can equal another international excursion. There's no substitute for easily-accessible aftercare from your surgeon.

Is saving money worth compromising your health?

While there's nothing wrong with having surgery done abroad by a well-researched, board-certified physician, lower prices shouldn't be the main allure -- that well-researched, board-certified surgeon should be. 

Plastic surgeon Dr. Richard Baxter from Washington state notes, "The scale of travel for surgery is larger than most people believe: hundreds of thousands of patients, billions of dollars. The issues are obvious, but many find the financial incentives compelling. So here are some resources for those considering it for plastic surgery: First, find out if the surgeon is a member of the International Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery." 

ISAPS also has resources to determine whether the facility meets accreditation standards, says, Dr. Baxter, and an insurance plan to cover treatment for complications once you return. 

And of course, if anything does go wrong, all of those "savings" can be negated with new expenditures to get things right again.

As Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Glenn Vallecillos tells us, "Cutting corners is never a good idea, and especially when it comes to your health."

Dear Heather,

We're thinking Dr. Hottie could be more like Dr. Nottie. Be smart about your aftercare, please. 

Read our medical tourism forum for more resources if you're considering getting surgery abroad.