I just had a coffee, I’m feeling good and energetic, so I decided to answer THE most common question I get about my surgery. Which is, omg how did you go to DR? Is it safe? Weren't you scared? Let me break it up into different parts because there’s so much to say about this topic. Surgery in DR is not inherently unsafe, but it is more risky than in the US, for several reasons...
1. DR surgeons can’t lose their license or get sued in the same way US surgeons can.
Things work differently there. It’s not just DR that is like that, in many countries of the world, even when you are getting heart surgery to save your life, unless there is gross negligence, you can’t really sue or do anything. This means that there is not enough regulation and organization, so it’s like a wild wild west of surgery. Which means the patient has to be responsible and highly informed, doing her research and being realistic. There are both good and bad surgeons there, and the bad ones would never be allowed to practice in the US, and the government/laws/regulations there are not going to protect you.
2. Patients have to be realistic about what is possible, and be responsible with their research.
I’ve been told the best thing is to be referred to a surgeon by someone who went to them and had a great result and experience. The next best thing to do is do hardcore research on the internet for months, contact previous patients who went to the surgeons you are researching, look at both 5 star and 1 star reviews. A lot of people just look at the results of a popular surgeon who does aggressive work, and they think “I want that” and they don’t care about anything else, including safety and how realistic it is.
3. Before and after photos are deceptive and people get too hung up on wish pics.
Don’t go by the before and after photos. PS can be incredibly transformative but it is not magic. Everyone’s body is different, the patient in the picture might have done 2-3 rounds of surgery over the course of a year or longer, they might have lost weight, the angle of the picture might be deceptive, it might be photoshopped, etc. Pics can give you a good idea of the surgeon’s style of work, but don’t go by someone’s picture and get hung up on it. People can get very unrealistic about what is possible. The pics don’t also show the long and difficult recovery process, what kind of pain and discomfort people went through, to get that after.
4. People want dramatic results and believe “it won’t happen to me" when they think of the risks.
Surgery has risks done anywhere, even under the most perfect conditions. People die or are maimed while having surgery in the US, too. But there is a reason the kind of lipo they do in DR and the amount of fat they inject into butts, is illegal in the US. It’s because it is dangerous. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it, but you have to understand it is dangerous. People who are looking for extreme results are the most at risk. If you go to DR looking for more moderate results, you’ll be better off in terms of safety and recovery/less risk of complications.
5. People don’t stay long enough in DR.
I stayed for 2 weeks, and that was considered pretty long for most people’s standards. Most patients stay only for 8-10 days. The first 2-3 weeks of your surgery are the most vulnerable time, when you are prone to complications. It is better to stay longer. At my recovery house, there was a woman whose belly button suddenly erupted not once, but twice, and she required emergency surgery twice.
Her case was very unusual, but she was lucky she was still in the recovery house when it happened.
6. PS is half surgery and half aftercare, and when you get surgery done overseas, you put your aftercare at risk.
We all take this risk, when we get surgery abroad or even in another state. We hope and pray that we won’t have complications, but it can happen to anyone. It’s usually not the surgery itself that kills people, but the aftercare (or lack of it) later. And truth be told, DR surgeons are extremely popular and overbooked, and although surgeons like Almonte (for example), try very hard to give you excellent aftercare, it’s just not possible to give the best aftercare to each and every patient, when you have so many of them. Also when they return home in 2 weeks, it’s just not possible. Also when you return home, surgeons and doctors don’t want to be involved with you, and your only choice is really the ER. This is true not just for PS patients. I was told by my massage therapist, that she had a breast cancer patient, who had life saving surgery done in the UK while visiting her mother, and when she returned to the US, no doctors wanted to touch her. They don’t want to be blamed should something go wrong, since you were not their patient, and they didn’t do your surgery.
7. People think PS in DR is cheaper than it really is, or they believe it should be dirt cheap.
Surgery is way cheaper in DR than in the US, but it isn’t dirt cheap. For example, my package (for a TT, BBL and lipo to my back and sides) was $5,000 which included 10 days at a recovery house, but I ended up spending over $6k when you include airfare, fajas, massages, extras, add ons, etc. Now that I am home, I am spending more money, on massages. I really do not want to end up with scar tissue or fibrosis, and I’m trying to be responsible and following Almonte’s instructions for aftercare, which was that I needed massages! I just spent $400 today on a package of massages, and I need to get them for months. Please don’t go to DR with only the bare minimum funds, at least have a credit card as a backup. Make sure you also have money for proper aftercare. And God forbid, in extreme cases, should you need to go to the ER or fly back to DR if you have complications, that will cost a couple of grand at least. If you have enough complications, your surgery in DR can turn out to be more expensive than if you had it done in the US.
8. Surgeons are not all the same in DR.
I’m sorry, but Dr Almonte is not the same as Dr Cabral, for example. One surgeon does amazing work, is ethical, has integrity and won’t compromise her ethics and standards just to make you look like a video model, and the other is a madman let loose to run a chop shop plastic surgery clinic in DR. I know people who like his work can be in denial about how dangerous he really is, but anyone who goes to him and ends up being harmed, was either very delusional or very naive. PLEASE choose your surgeon carefully. Surgeons are all different in the US too, but in DR the differences are even more extreme. Go to someone who is ETHICAL and has your best interests at heart, not a surgeon who is just money hungry. There are some truly wonderful surgeons in DR, who do amazing work and are ethical. Dr Almonte is an example. Everyone at the spa I went to today for my massage was complimenting my tummy tuck, my scars and the work I got done. They said I had excellent, excellent work done. And they see TT scars, PS results every single day since they get so many surgical patients.
9. People get too many surgeries done at once.
Doctors like Almonte will actually deny all of things you want done at once, and tell you to come back 6 months later for another round, but there are others who will give you blood transfusions and just do whatever you request, no matter how risky. There’s a reason why this is dangerous and again, the “it won’t happen to me” mentality is prevalent. People take this risk and it is their prerogative to do so, but it does raise the risk of death, complications, etc exponentially.
The reason I had surgery there… I knew I wanted surgery done in Latin America. Either Colombia, Brazil or DR. I love the PS they do in Latin countries. I especially love how they do tummy tucks. I’m not latina but I live in an area with a lot of Hispanics and I know how amazing the work is because I’ve seen it around me. The body contouring is incredible. I lost a lot of weight over the years and my body just felt shapeless to me. I wanted not only to have my extra skin removed, I wanted to be contoured. I had wanted a tummy tuck for years, but was afraid to get one because I had seen so many hideous TTs and hideous scars. I chose DR because it was just easier to research their surgeons. I chose Almonte because she had a great reputation and did amazing work. I did feel really nervous when I first arrived, but I started to get more relaxed as things went along. I trusted Almonte and her staff, especially after they wouldn’t take my money when I also wanted breast work done. They told me it was too much surgery and my hemo isn’t high enough for that.
I honestly believe I was in very, very, very good hands while i was in DR, but I did take a risk by coming home in 2 weeks. *Knock on wood* I don’t have any complications and am healing very well, but that is a risk we all take when we are medical tourists. We get the surgery done there and come back here. That is risky.
Anyway, I know this post is super long, but it’s an important topic and I hope it has been helpful.