I've gotten quite a few messages from people asking me why I chose Dr. Cardenas over American doctors. Most people seem to think it was because of the money and that was a bonus, but it wasn't the reason. Here's my take on the differences (both bad AND good) between getting surgery in the US and getting it in Mexico (and I'm only speaking for Dr. Cardenas here, since I obviously don't have any other MX surgery experience).
PROS FOR MEXICO (IN MY HUMBLE OPINION)
1. Price: Surgery is MUCH cheaper in Mexico, which everyone knows. But keep in mind there may be supplemental charges you need to pay, namely travel expenses depending on where you are (mine was gas, but airfare etc if you're in another state). To give you an idea, I spent $6800 with Dr. C for a circumferential tummy tuck, lipo over my entire back and also on my thighs and chin and fat grafting to my butt, plus another $2000 to stay in a private room at BCRH for 10 days, for a total of $8800. I got three different quotes from doctors in the US before I decided, which ranged from $10,000 for a regular tummy tuck extending around the hips and nothing else to $12,800 for a regular tummy tuck plus fat grafting. These quotes didn't include any after care and actually that leads me to my next point...
2. After care: In Mexico, I had the surgery, stayed overnight in the surgery center and then went to a recovery house (TOTALLY optional, not everyone does this) for 10 days, which I paid additional for. Here, all three doctors told me that my surgery would be an outpatient procedure and I would be sent home that night. This was a HUGE factor in my decision. I can't even imagine trying to recover the way I did at home. I couldn't sit up, I couldn't stand...hell, I couldn't even wipe my own ass or shower by myself. I know lots of people do it but for me, having registered nurses around 24 hours a day to help with anything that may go wrong was a huge win for Mexico. Having said that, I'm sure there are places here in the US you can go to for after care, but I'm guessing they're not cheap.
3. Surgery: I did A LOT of research before I decided. Like, hours and hours and hours and hours spent on the internet and I started to notice a trend...it seemed like the women who had their surgery done in Mexico ended up with a much curvier, womanly body. They had more of an hourglass shape where women in the US seemed to end up squarer to me, more like, well, Spongebob. Remember, this was just MY personal opinion...I'm not saying every woman who has surgery here ends up square, but all of the women in the books in the doctor's offices I interviewed were...and that was by far the biggest reason I decided to go with Dr. Cardenas. Also, I do think that Mexico surgeons are much more aggressive than US surgeons in regards to lipo and sculpting, which is part of the reason you end up with that hourglass shape.
4. MEDICAL CARE: Dr. Cardenas is very, very approachable. She's humble and down to earth and laughed at my stupid jokes and the nurses were all warm and fuzzy and loving. Of course, it might have been because I was crying 18 hours a day, but whatever. The doctors I interviewed here talked to me like I was a toddler and rolled their eyes when I asked about lipo. Lame.
PROS FOR THE US (ALSO IN MY HUMBLE OPINION)
1. Distance/Border Crossing: Everything that I read about having surgery in Mexico was like, "You're only two hours away from home! That's less than the drive to Los Angeles!" Ummm, sure...unless you end up with a complication or a raging bacterial infection and have to actually stay there for weeks. I spent 30 days in Mexico between the surgery center and the recovery house. My husband was with me probably 15 of those days but had to return because of work and the kids. That meant I spent 15 days alone there, terrified that I wasn't going to be ok. I love Dr. Cardenas and I trust her with my life (obviously), but being there alone, missing my kids and not having anyone available to even visit...it was hard. Really hard. If my doctor had been here, I wouldn't have had to stay. I could've have driven to their office every day and then driven home. But when your doctor is a day trip away and you have to be on IV antibiotics for two weeks...you just stay there becuase it's easier.
And the border is AWFUL. Yes, it's only a two hour drive...THERE. What nobody tells you is that getting (walking or driving, it doesn't really matter) back across the border into the US can take you anywhere from 45 minutes to four hours. Seriously. If I had a 9:00 am appt, we would leave the house at 6:30 am and wouldn't get home until 5:30 pm. It was just a crapshoot how long the border crossing would take. I told Dr. Cardenas she REALLY needs an office in San Diego...she laughed at me. :)
2. LANGUAGE: Dr. Cardenas, Dr. Leyva, Fatimeh, the front office staff and MOST of the nurses at the surgery center and BCRH speak English fairly well. But not all. In fact, one of the nurses at the surgery center doesn't speak any, which makes it difficult when you're relying on her to get you up, out of bed and into the toilet. It can be extrememly frustrating. Also, they have TVs at the surgery center but it's really only intended to keep patients for one night after surgery...so there's only maybe one or two English stations and if you don't like it, you're screwed, unless you speak Spanish.
3. RECOVERY: I don't know if this is really a pro for the US, but it seems to me that the recovery time from surgeons here is shorter, but I'm guessing that's because they won't do as much work on you at the same time as Mexico surgeons will.
So there you have it. People have asked me over and over again if I regret going to Mexico for my surgery, and my answer has always been no. I really, really love Dr. Cardenas. She did EXACTLY what I wanted with my body...but I did exchange some inconveniences and difficulties for that. Ultimately, it's up to you what's best for you. If you want a lot of work done, just remember the recovery will be much harder and the risk for complications is higher. Having said that...I experienced some of those complications and although it was really hard going through, I survived and couldn't be any happier with the way I look. Who knows, maybe I would have been this happy going with a US surgeon too. I don't ever question that I made the right choice for ME and MY BODY, and that's all any of us can do.
Hugs and shit. :) xoxo