LUBBOCK, Texas — Americans traveling to Mexico for cosmetic procedures is not uncommon as they often search for cheaper options. But doctors in Lubbock are warning residents of the dangers behind those procedures after four Americans were kidnapped, two of those killed in Matamoros, Mexico.
Those kidnapped were traveling to Matamoros for a cosmetic procedure, a common destination people turn to when looking for inexpensive elective procedures.
Last summer, EverythingLubbock.com spoke to a Lubbock woman who traveled to Matamoros for liposuction. Five days after her surgery, she returned with a flesh-eating bacteria known as Necrotizing Fasciitis.
“I hate that I did it. I wish I never did that, and I’d beat myself up about it all the time,” said the Lubbock Woman.
Her doctors told her the infection came from unclean liposuction tools, now changing her life forever. “I’ve been wanting the surgery because I didn’t like that I had a big stomach and love handles,” the Lubbock Woman said.
Her surgeon in Matamoros never refunded her money and instead blocked her from all forms of contact.
Dr. Sameer Islam with the Lubbock County Medical Society says this is a common issue people can face when traveling abroad for medical procedures.
“It really comes down to sterility and standards of care. Here in the United States, we are very correct about exactly how sterile an operating room is. We have standards that every hospital has, every surgeon has, said Dr. Islam, “When you go abroad, you don’t have those same standards. The facility, the doctor, the hospital may not have the same cleanliness, the same sterility.”
Mexico is the second most popular destination for medical tourism, drawing in people looking for inexpensive plastic surgery.
“In the United States we have insurance, you have authorizations, it takes time, and it just takes effort and for a lot of people, they may not even qualify for getting the procedure they need. Where if you go abroad, you can just bypass that completely,” said Dr. Islam
The US has also reinstated its travel warning for Mexico due to crime and kidnapping, where safety risks are not the only issue these medical tourists may come across.
“You need to get it done in the United States, you really do. We have the best healthcare system. We have the best doctors, we have standards and more importantly, we have our patient safety as number one,” said Dr. Islam.