“Dallas woman goes to Mexico for plastic surgery, returns to U.S. on life support” CBS This Morning
Medical tourism to Mexico and many of the countries in Central America has become a booming business. According to Medical Tourism Magazine, medical tourism is slated to grow at a 25% rate per year for the next 10 years. In the past few years, I researched opportunities to provide services in Mexico to try and cut some of the costs associated with surgery for my patients. As I started researching this industry, I found out much about medical tourism. In the United States, medical tourism is primarily to Mexico and Colombia. This is more prevalent here in Houston because we have easy access to Mexico. Many of the patients that utilize these services are Hispanic and hence, even feel at home in these countries since the medium of conversation is Spanish; and all the doctors and nurses speak their native language that gives them an added level of familiarity.
But, the services being offered are not equal. The article above puts in the limelight the worst of medical tourism. Though patients may feel that all surgeons are equal, and all surgeons can provide the same level of care….all of this is not true. The minimum standards in the United States far surpass the minimum standards in many of these countries. Things like board certification, hospital accreditation, etc. are not as prevalent in other locations outside the United States; and hence, it presents a “buyer beware” system. Other issues include the use of non-FDA approved implants, non-FDA approved sutures, etc…things that are almost unheard of in the United States.
Are there good surgeons abroad? Are there qualified surgeons abroad? The answer is absolutely “yes”. However, upon discussion with some of the top surgeons that practice outside the United States in my field, I found that the top surgeons charge exactly the same prices as what we charge here in the US.
The final question I have to ask patients’ contemplating having surgery abroad is, “What are you going to do if you have a complication?”
1. Only go to board certified plastic and facial plastic surgeons. Charlatans exist even in the US…take for example the dancing surgeon in Atlanta who was trained as a dermatologist but practiced plastic surgery.
2. Make sure the facility is accredited. Samples of accreditation are AAAHC , AAAA , and JCAHO
3. Make sure ancillary personnel (anesthesiologists, etc) are certified by the appropriate accreditation boards
To anyone reading…. here’s me!
Please stay away from international medical tourism adventures. Go to Mexico for fun, not to get a botched nose job!
Raghu Athré, MD FACS
President/Founder | Athré Facial Aesthetics