Each year, about 750,000 Americans travel to other countries to receive health care and plastic surgery, typically looking for lower costs. However, US health officials caution this traveling trend due to severe infections contracted from procedures in foreign countries, including breast augmentations, liposuction, and other popular procedures, which highlights the possible health risks of medical tourism.

Recently, a US plastic surgeon witnessed serious infections in two patients that underwent cosmetic surgery in the same clinic in the Dominican Republic. These infections were rapidly evolved from grown mycobacteria (RGM), or a bacteria that is generally resistant to antibiotics. After these two cases, a nation-wide investigation was put in place backed by the state’s department of health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

This investigation identified 21 people with RGM, who recently traveled to the Dominican Republic for discounted plastic surgery services, according to the CDC’s journal Emerging Infectious Diseases. The most popular procedures included liposuction, abdominoplasty, buttock augmentation, and breast augmentation.

One clinic that served 13 of the 21 infected is now closed. Although the cause of the infections were unknown, it could have been any breach in sterile technique that may have caused this bacteria to seep into incisions or a wound.

The Choice of Plastic Surgery Tourism

The primary factor when individuals choose to travel for plastic surgery is the cost, since people can save on average 88 percent of their procedures. Although medical tourism is a rapidly growing market due to the costs, many health authorities do caution patients to do thorough research before traveling abroad. The CDC recommends that potential tourists do in-depth research in the medical provider they are looking in to.

However, in any case, plastic surgeons who are licensed in the U.S. may have different standards than foreign countries. In Brandon, FL, patient safety is our number one priority and precautionary measures are taken every procedure to reduce your risk of surgical complications. In other words, it may be a simple case of, “You get what you pay for.”