Kidnapping of Americans Sounds the Alarm of Medical Tourism Dangers

Posted April 14, 2023
See the dangers of medical tourism

Earlier this year, a news story reported that four Americans were kidnapped in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. Unfortunately, two of the people who were kidnapped were later found dead. According to a sister of one of the victims, the group had journeyed to Mexico so one of them could undergo a tummy tuck AKA abdominoplasty. While medical tourism continues to be popular, there are some dangers associated with the decision to travel for plastic surgery.

Want to know more about the possible risks of medical tourism? Check out this video from Cosmetic Town News:

Medical Tourism – A Financial Boost for Mexico and Other Countries

Every year, there are millions of citizens of the United States (as well as other countries) who travel to destinations outside their home country in order to have plastic surgery. This practice is often referred to as medical tourism and it can bring a good amount of tourist dollars into a country. For example, the National Exterior Commerce Bank in Mexico estimated that, pre-pandemic, the medical tourism industry was worth 5-billion dollars.

Many patients travel outside of their home country to have a procedure for much lower prices than they can get closer to home. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most common procedures patients travel abroad for include dental care, surgeries, cancer treatment, organ transplants, fertility treatments, and tissue transplants. In addition, the chance to have elective procedures is a large reason many patients decide to travel to another country.

Medical Tourism – What are the Statistics and Dangers?

Even though visiting another country can allow a patient to get affordable care, the practice of medical tourism is still largely unregulated, and this means it is hard to track the outcomes (successful or not) of medical procedures.

It is also hard to obtain solid data on medical tourism and the industry has been called a “Triple U” which stands for “untracked, untraced, and unregulated.” For example, most of the hospitals in Mexico that are visited by American patients are private, so they do not have to report their data if they do not want to share the information.

These days, Patients Beyond Borders estimates that around 1.2-million Americans travel to Mexico annually for medical treatments. The number of patients has been growing post-pandemic as more people are vaccinated and able to travel.

Medical Tourism – Popular Destinations and Procedures

Some of the most popular destinations are Mexican states that are close to the border as well as popular beach towns such as Baja California and Quintana Roo. Patients that visit these areas often like to have dental procedures such as full mouth reconstruction and root canals or fat transfer procedures that can include a Brazilian butt lift (BBL).

Patients are able to pay less money for surgery because the overhead costs of operating a health care center or clinic in Mexico are much lower than the United States. Many Mexican border towns feature a variety of clinics, hospitals, and pharmacies that American patients can visit at lower prices.

In addition, patients who are not able to have a procedure in the United States due to age, health, or legal restrictions can often find a surgeon in another country who is willing to perform the desired treatment,

Medical Tourism – What are the Risks?

It should be noted that many of the risks involved with medical tourism often involve the actual medical procedure and not the travel process to have the surgery.

There are some countries where the medical industry is not as well-regulated as the United States so the medical facilities might not be as sterile or as advanced as the United States. Plus, patients who travel to another country can have a hard time getting an appointment to see the doctor who treated them if any post-op medical issues occur once they return to their home country. It is a good idea for patients to schedule a consultation appointment with their primary medical provider before leaving the country so the surgeon can arrange to see the patient after they return home. This is an ideal situation instead of the doctor being caught off guard by someone visiting their office with no advance warning that the person was going out of the country for a medical procedure.

There are also some doctors who caution patients against flying home too soon after a surgery as the person might be susceptible to developing blood clots, so they need to have a period of recovery before they fly home.

Finally, patients are entering countries where they will encounter different cultural norms, political situations, and laws. There is a chance that they will not have any legal recourse if they receive improper medical care. They can also be a target for those who want to rob or take advantage of someone visiting a foreign country. While these risks are not always present when visiting another country, the ability of a person to easily address and solve issues related to these risks can be more difficult since they are not always aware of the rules and regulations of the country they are visiting.

- MA


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