The Centers for Disease and Control and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons released a special bulletin earlier this week. The Bulletin, which can be read in its entirety here says that between April and September 2013, 15 patients from the Northeast US had cosmetic surgery in the Dominican Republic and returned home with a specific bacterial infection related to the same bacteria that causes tuberculosis (9 of the 15 went to the same clinic and had surgery by the same surgeon)! The infection results in pus draining from incisions and abscess cavities.
By the time the infections became obvious for these patients, they were already back in the US and of course, their surgeon was no where to be found – he was still in the DR! So any money saved by going to the Dominican Republic quickly evaporated when having to treat their complications by paying out-of-pocket here in the US.
If you’re considering medical tourism, don’t be that person that says, “that won’t happen to me, I’ll be fine!” Statistically speaking, you’re in much greater danger having surgery where the standards aren’t at the same level as they are in the US. I understand that the US healthcare system is often criticized for being more expensive than other industrialized countries with no difference in recovery and outcomes. Keep in mind, this is a comparison between the US and countries of similar socioeconomic stature. It may be fair to compare hip replacement in the US vs hip replacement in Belgium, an industrialized, first world country that has high standards for their healthcare system. However, the equivalent comparison can not be made for cosmetic surgery between the US and Dominican Republic!
This is a very important distinction. The US healthcare system may be more expensive but the importance of having a doctor close to home can not be overemphasized. “Less expensive but equivalent” is a fair discussion between industrialized nations but it can not and should not be applied to cosmetic surgery in 3rd world countries where standards of care is either not obvious, not enforced or doesn’t exist.
If you’re looking for the cost of cosmetic surgery here at home, check out this site which provides pricing information on specific procedures from board certified plastic surgeons near you.