“Cheap,” “plastic,” and “surgery” are three words that should never be… well… be linked together… ever… in any way. When people talk about “cheap plastic surgery,” what are they talking about? Usually, they’re referring surgical procedures offered at cut-rate, extreme bargain basement prices. All of us are drawn to bargains, but some bargains are just not worth the risk.
Vicente Arenas of KHOU Channel 11 News in Houston presented and aptly titled article, “Women share cautionary tale of having surgery in Mexico,” which is a good example of this. Mr. Arenas had it right, this is a cautionary tale.
According to Mr. Arenas’ article, Mimi Valdez and her niece, Chrissy, who requested her last name not be released, had each lost significant amounts of weight, and they both wanted to have excessive skin removed. They chose to have this work done by Hospital Jerusalem in Tijuana, Mexico. The reason for their choice was that “doctors…promised the work would be done for $5,000.”[i] In the United States, the average surgical procedures themselves cost about the same, but there are additional fees for operating facilities, anesthesia and anesthesiologist, and other expenses. Mimi underwent a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) and Chrissy had unspecified surgery on her breasts.[ii] They now regret their decision to “save money by outsourcing their medical procedures to a facility in Tijuana.” [iii]
Mimi and Chrissy researched the hospital on the internet, but as soon as they saw the actual facility, they had misgivings. “I made a very wrong decision to go through with it,” said Mimi, because Hospital Jerusalem appeared more like a clinic in a strip mall and look nothing like the building featured on the website.[iv] Knowing there was no chance of getting their money back, the two women decided to go through with their procedures.
Chrissy reported, “Immediately after the bandages were removed, I took a look in the mirror at my breasts. I had skin hanging out of the incisions.” Two weeks after their surgeries, both women were experiencing major problems. Chrissy was hospitalized in Houston, and doctors did not know if they could save her.[v] Mimi was disfigured and both women had extreme bruising.
While I don’t know this for a fact, I would hazard a guess that the cost of saving the life of Chrissy, not to mention the repair work done on both women, was probably significantly more than the “cheap surgery.”
While this is Mimi’s and Chrissy’s story, they are not alone.[vi] As I googled the phrase “cheap plastic surgery,” I would like to say that I was shocked by the number of websites that offer such things, but I wasn’t. It’s a sad fact that there are always those in the world willing to take advantage of others with the promise of having better things in life with minimal cost. Cheap plastic surgery does not mean just saving money. Pre-surgery preparation, follow-up care, doctor/patient relationships, and, often desired results are all missing.
No less important than cost, according the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), travel combined with surgery significantly increases the risk of complications.[vii] Traveling, especially flying, after surgery increases the risk of developing pulmonary embolism and blood clots. In addition to these potentially fatal complications, swelling and infection could also occur.
Before flying, the ASPS suggests waiting 5-7 days following body procedures such as liposuction (lipoplasty) and breast augmentation (mammoplasty). For procedures such as facelifts (rhytidectomy), eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty), nose jobs (rhinoplasty) and laser treatments, ASPS suggests a wait of 7-10 days.[viii]
In my opinion, in most “cheap” surgery situations, you are nothing more than a number and a paycheck, my friend, to the doctor or clinic that offers this “service.”
So I guess it comes down to this: are you willing to risk the loss of everything to save a few dollars?