Friday, November 10, 2006
Medical Reports: Botched Beauty
Call it offshore operations, more and more people are going out of the country to go under the knife. The lure? Cut-rate prices. But as 7's Christine Cruz shows us in tonight's special assignment report, many of these cosmetic vacations are ending in Botched Beauty.
WSVN -- Thailand, Dominican Republic and Colombia -- these days people wanting fabulous faces are jetting off to foreign places.
Lauren Goodall: "I'm going right here to Bangkok to get my surgery done."
You can call Lauren Goodall a nip-tuck tourist.
She is on her way to Thailand for an operation vacation.
Lauren Goodall: "I'm going for a complete facelift, having my neck done and going up a cup size on my breast."
To Lauren, it's a beauty bargain.
She gets to see Asia and also have surgery for half the price she would pay here in the U.S.
Lauren Goodall: "I'm going to get a vacation out of it, and the surgery alone will be so inexpensive compared to here."
It was those cut-rate prices that drove Lina Montya to Colombia for a tummy-tuck and liposuction.
The doctor promised her a body to die for.
Lina Montya: "When he showed me the pictures in the computer I was like, 'Wonderful -- if I can look like that, great.'"
But she did almost die for that body after too much lipo caused too much blood loss.
Lina Montya: "Even the doctor got scared. Everybody thought I was going to die, just too many complications at once."
The same with Amie Goldberg -- she had life-threatening complications after getting a breast lift and a tummy-tuck in South America.
Amie Goldberg: "I was bleeding a lot. They didn't know what to do to help me with my bleeding problems."
It got so bad that she had to beg her doctors to take her back into surgery, and the language barrier created even more confusion.
Amie Goldberg: "When you don't know what someone is trying to tell you, and your life is at stake, it's really scary."
Horror stories like that can happen anywhere -- but when you pack up and take off to another country for surgery, doctors warn you're putting yourself at even greater risk.
Dr. James Stuzin: "Finding plastic surgeons in a foreign country is even more difficult because the credentials and education in foreign countries is very different than we have in America."
That also means foreign facilities may not offer the same safeguards for equipment or emergency procedures.
Plus, if there is a problem, you may not get the necessary follow-up care.
Dr. James Stuzin: "The liability and the responsibility that physicians have to their patients in America is very high, and that doesn't necessarily exist in foreign countries if you have a problem."
And then of course, there is the flight back.
In some cases, leaving too soon can be too much for your body.
Dr. James Stern: "I think patients put themselves at increased risk in flying, immediately after surgery because they increase their risk of a blood clot."
What started out as a savings has cost Amy and Lina a lot more.
For them, a little R and R has turned into regret and recover.
Amie Goldberg: "At some point I know that I will have to pay for this again, find a doctor who's willing to do it, and miss work again. You lose more than you can ever imagine."
Lina Montya: "I regret it completely, and I do not recommend it to my worst enemy."
But Lauren does not think she'll have any regrets.
She believes this ticket to Thailand will help her arrive at a new destination in life.
Lauren Goodall: "This is my flight out of here. A flight to a new beginning."
One more word of caution: If you do suffer a botched surgery, don't expect help once you're back in the states. Many doctors are reluctant to handle problems from surgeries they didn't perform.
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