Cosmetic surgery has grown in popularity with patients across the United States over the past few decades. In addition to visiting doctors in their home city and elsewhere throughout the country, there are many patients who make the decision to travel to Mexico to undergo cosmetic procedures that are sometimes just a fraction of the cost of United States prices. Even though they enjoy undergoing procedures they might not be able to otherwise afford, there are some possible dangers they should know about in their quest for cosmetic surgery.
In their attempt to have a tummy tuck, facelift, BBL, or rhinoplasty at a lower price, there are some patients who are either ignoring the risks or they are simply not aware of possible risks once they get to a medical office in Mexico.
Some of the dangers have been highlighted in reality TV shows that spotlight the results of cosmetic procedures that have gone wrong in countries that have lower prices and more relaxed medical rules and regulations. There have also been reports of Americans being kidnapped including four Americans who were kidnapped earlier this year with two of them being killed. The four Americans had journeyed to an area highlighted by the US State Department as a possible danger area due to violent acts such as armed robbery and kidnapping.
While a lower price for cosmetic surgery is often a reason for a visit to Mexico, it is not the only reason patients go to the area. In an interview with NBC News, Dr. Nain Maldonado, a cosmetic surgeon who runs a private practice in Cancun, said many patients are frustrated with various aspects of the United States healthcare system including having issues with getting an appointment and also feeling like their doctor is rushing them once they actually get into an office to see the doctor. He shared, “When I talk with my patients coming from the States, they are surprised how the doctors are coming to see them, talking with them, even during the appointments after the surgery or the next day. I think it is easier to talk with your doctor here in Mexico.”
Dr. Maldonado reported that the number of American patients who visit him for cosmetic procedures has grown to the point that his clients are 40%-50% Americans and Canadians. He also stated his patients feel they will receive better results from going to Mexico than they would at home in the United States.
However, not everyone is happy with their final results. Before heading to Mexico for their treatment, patients often imagine far greater results than they can actually receive from a doctor. In addition, many medical tourism patients have to turn to doctors in their home country of the United States for help in dealing with complications after their procedures in Mexico.
There are times when the dream of having more affordable cosmetic surgery can cause patients to ignore or downplay warnings about the area they want to visit as well as the possible complications related to their desired procedure. These patients need to decide if these possible risks are worth the amount of money they can save going to Mexico. While saving money might sound like a great idea, the amount of money saved could also result in long-term complications and even the death of a patient.
In addition to cosmetic surgery, Mexico has also become a destination for other healthcare needs such as pharmaceutical and dental treatments. According to The Center for Medical Tourism Research at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, the public also travels to Mexico because of their belief that they are receiving care that is comparable or better than what they will receive at home. According to the Center, “People tend to travel for what they perceive to be value. In other words, it’s not just the price, but it’s the price plus what they consider to be an acceptable level of quality.’
According to Patients Beyond Borders, an international healthcare travel publishing and consulting firm, the number of American citizens that went to Mexico in 2019, before the beginning of the pandemic, was around 1.2-million people. They went to Mexico for elective medical procedures ranging from cosmetic to dentistry, complex, and bariatric. Plus, the discounts patients receive can be up to 80% less in Mexico than in the United States. The reasons for the low costs for patients are related to the overall lower costs in Mexico. The savings are passed on to patients as medical professionals have lower costs for their medical buildings, lower medical staff salaries, and lower prices for pharmaceutical drugs.
Even with the warnings issued by health organizations, there are many successful treatments as there are experienced cosmetic surgeons all over the world. Having said that, the medical regulations in Mexico are not as stringent as the United States so patients need to perform in-depth research to make sure the medical professional they visit is properly trained and experienced and can be contacted or visited easily if there are any issues or complications once they return home.
There is nothing wrong with shopping around for the best price as long as the patient knows the situation they will be walking into when they travel to Mexico. There are a number of surgeons in Mexico who are certified according to the same standards as American surgeons. Before making the trip to Mexico, Americans should review any State Department warnings about the area they want to visit to see if there are any issues they should know about before they make the journey for cosmetic surgery.