Two women share nightmare medical tourism tale

July 19, 2013

Two women recently shared the tale of their medical tourism nightmare.
Two women recently shared the tale of their medical tourism nightmare.

Houston's KHOU 11 News recently reported on a story of two women who took a trip to Mexico in hopes of saving on plastic surgery costs. Their excitement at finally getting the breast augmentation and tummy tucks they were hoping for quickly turned to fear and disappointment. Mimi Valdez and her niece Chrissy shared their story with the news station in hopes of discouraging others from seeking out dangerous medical tourism offers.

The Tijuana disaster
Mimi was frustrated with the way her body looked after she shed 130 pounds. Many people who lose weight in a short amount of time choose to undergo tummy tuck surgery to help tighten the skin around the abdomen, thighs or buttocks. Her niece was looking forward to undergoing a breast augmentation and tummy tuck as part of a Mommy Makeover. When the two women saw an offer for discount plastic surgery in Mexico, they thought the price was too good to turn down.

In a YouTube video taken at Jerusalem Hospital in Tijuana, the women's excitement is palpable. But once the procedure was over, the women changed their tune.

"Immediately after the bandages were removed, and I took a look in the mirror at my breasts, I had skin hanging out of the incisions," Chrissy told the news source.

Two weeks later, both women were experiencing medical issues that required treatment at a hospital. Mimi said when doctors examined her, they weren't certain she was going to survive the procedures needed to solve her medical problems.

There were signs, they said, that the clinic in Tijuana was illegitimate. The facility, located in a strip mall, didn't look like the pictures of the hospital the women saw on the Internet. On top of that, they said they learned that plastic surgery procedures were being performed around the clock.

"I was already there," Valdez explained to the news source. "I knew I wasn't going to get my money back and I made a very, very wrong decision to go through with it. And I should have listened to my intuition, but I didn't."

Neither woman is seeking monetary recourse or legal action – they just want to make sure others don't make the same mistake.

Not uncommon
Unfortunately, stories like this are far from uncommon. Many people are lured into unsafe situations by the promise of discount plastic surgery. It's never safe to go under the knife unless you are 100 percent certain the doctor performing your aesthetic operation is well trained and board certified. That's why the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery offers a find-a-surgeon search feature on its website. This allows individuals to locate a qualified plastic surgeon.

During your initial consultation with your plastic surgeon, you should not hesitate to ask him or her about experience and qualifications. If your doctor is unwilling to provide this information, it may be best to move on to someone else.


The mission of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) includes medical education, public education and patient advocacy. Plastic Surgery News Briefs are summaries of current stories found through various news and magazine outlets that relate to or mention plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures. The views expressed in these news articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASAPS, but are merely published as an educational service to our members and the general public. For additional information on these subjects and other plastic surgery related topics, please go to www.surgery.org

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About ASAPS
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), is recognized as the world’s leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body.  ASAPS is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; active members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and non-surgical aesthetic procedures. International active members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.

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