Importance of ICUs in Plastic Surgery?

I am considering getting Breast Implants at a clinic in Mexico and the hospital said that it can be very dangerous to have surgery there, as there is no ICU. Is there an ICU at all plastic surgery offices in the US, or is it just hospitals?

Doctor Answers 14

Cosmetic Surgery Tourism - A Fiesta and Breast Augmentation in Mexico

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In the right hands a Breast Augmentation is extremely safe and I would NOT worry about finding an ICU in a Mexican facility.

I would worry about WHO would take care of any complications you may have there. Even the best of surgeons have complications. Should you have such complications, for medical reasons, you would have a very hard time finding an American Plastic Surgeon who may want to take up your care.

Dr. P. Aldea

Memphis Plastic Surgeon

Medical Tourism for plastic surgery: Inexpensive or cheap cosmetic surgery in foreign lands

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ICU's are typically limited to hospitals. Generally this has little relation to an operating room.

The likelihood that you will have a morbid or near-morbid (fatal) event is low and therefore the concerns about an ICU are generally not warranted.

However, the possiblity that you will have a non-life threatening problem such as a wound infection, capsular contracture, implant deflation, breast implant asymmetry are more likely. Who will you go to answer or treat your questions? Will you go to Mexico for followup? If you want to treat a minor wound infection, who will treat you and prescribe antibiotics? Who will recommend post-opt exercises, etc?

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 86 reviews

Considerations for plastic surgery tourism

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The compelling savings in cost have driven many to consider going out of the country for surgery. There are some excellent plastic surgeons around the world, and one way to check your potential surgeon out is to see if he or she is a member of the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, They also have an accreditation process for the surgical facility. The issue isn't so much whether there is an ICU available, but how post-op care will be managed especially if there is a complication. These can occur during the flight home or afterward, and you may end up in a difficult situation. There may be a need for evaluation of long-term problems as well. Ultimately, what you need to decide is whether risking your safety and appearance is worth the savings.

Richard Baxter, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

ICU's have no role in cosmetic plastic surgery

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Sometimes, an ICU stay is needed to monitor a microsurgical operation done in the reconstructive side of plastic surgery. There should be no role for an ICU in cosmetic plastic surgery. That said, where ever you have surgery, the facilities of a complete hospital should be available in case of any emergency. Traveling out of the country for plastic surgery is a bad idea for all of the reasons that have been explained in many answers on this forum previously.

Be aware for pitfalls for out of country surgery

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An ICU (intensive care unit) is used to take care of very sick patients. I do not see the need to have an ICU available for any elective plastic surgery, unless they are planning to make you very sick after your surgery!

Having surgery out of country has potential pitfalls, and you should research the surgeon carefully. Most likely, by the time you consider cost of travel, food, accommodations, etc. the cost is close or higher than here. This is, of course, assuming the surgery is performed by a well-trained and respectable plastic surgeon. Regardless, if a complication should occur while you are in the U.S., most surgeons will charge you a full service fee, since you are not a returning patient. Also, some surgeons may be reluctant to take care of someone else's complication.

Michael A. Jazayeri, MD
Santa Ana Plastic Surgeon

Intensive Care Unit and Cosmetic Surgery

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Cosmetic surgery is, for the most part, performed on healthy patients. All patients should be at their optimum health and any medical conditions should be well controlled.

The only issue concerns a pulmonary embolism. This is when a blood clot from a deep vein of the leg travels to the lungs. The consequences can be mild to catastrophic. However, with the appropriate precautions such a leg squeezers called venodynes applied before surgery and early mobilization after surgery this can be avoided.

Many surgeons operate out of surgery centers not associated with a hospital. Personally I operate at a hospital with an ICU. Complications can happen and I think it's safer to be at a hospital with physicians that can assist with these things.

No need for ICU with breast augmentation

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Intensive Care Units (ICU) is not an issue for the breast augmentation. If you know of plastic surgeon outside U.S and you feel comfortble with his before and after surery care, then it is OK to travel overseas for surgery.

The main concern is the after care if there is complication. The medical and lgal systems are are different in other countries and make sure to find out about your rights post surgery.

Kamran Khoobehi, MD
New Orleans Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 152 reviews

ICU in plastic surgery

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It is obvious to me you have already decided to go to Mexico for your surgery. So why would having an ICU matter to you? You are already taking a chance on going to an area without the quality controls we have in the US. Is it really that much less expensive? There are areas in the US where you can get saline implants from $3900 or even less. I'm sure in NJ you can find one. Or call Global Medical Tourism to get a quote for in US. Regards

Breast Augmentation is safe, ICU not needed

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BAM is routine and safe procedure. It is done as an outpatient procedure. I do it in hospitals, and surgery centers without any ICU's. In 16 years of practic, and years of training, I have never seen a patient go to an ICU as a result of BAM.

If this hospital has a history of sending patients to an ICU after BAM -- you need to ask yourself what the heck you are doing?

I really can't strongly enough discourage you from cosmetic surgery tourism in a third world country. It isn't worth any money you could save.

Why have surgery outside the country?

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An ICU is not needed for routine plastic surgery and breast augmentation in particular. I am concerned for you that the hospital is telling you that the breast augmentation surgery can be very dangerous and that they think you might need an ICU. Perhaps you might consider looking locally for a board certified plastic surgery to help you choose a safe and predictable way of enhancing your breasts.

Charles Perry, MD
Sacramento Plastic Surgeon

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.