Plastic Surgeon Dr. Dean Kane of Baltimore Answers Question and Comments on Article Regarding Cosmetic Medical Tourism

Lorena Beltran launched a public campaign seeking to regulate cosmetic surgery in Colombia.

Q. Why are US Cosmetic Surgeons more expensive than those abroad? Why shouldn’t I take my vacation time and have my plastic surgery done outside the US?

A. DK (Dean Kane, MD, FACS): [These are great questions and ones that should lead you to considering the benefits and risks of such decision making. It is a physicians desire to optimize your health. Physical appearance can cause an imbalance mentally or spiritually and there are many options to review in your mind how to handle it. Cosmetic procedures and surgery is only one alternative.

We wish for only the best results bring us harmony in body and mind but this is not always the case and there many “check-off boxes” to consider on the journey to beauty. Remember that there is GOOD AND BAD everywhere! Unfortunately, the good Cosmetic / Aesthetic Board Certified Plastic Surgeons get the bad rap from those harmful out-of-country and American individuals promising more than they can deliver. Many of these individuals are not physicians, not trained in the specialty for which they are performing the procedures, may not have Board Certification nor even licenses. The consequences may be devastating as more countries are luring both cosmetic and even medically necessary surgery such as replacement hips, knees and elective cardiac procedures for less money. Unfortunately for the patient who leaves the country for surgery and other medical procedures that has complications, they may not be covered by their medical insurance back in the US and many surgeons will not see nor manage other’s complications. There will probably not be any opportunity for medical investigation nor litigation of the non-US surgeon as well.

I will add commentary to this article by Catalina Ruiz Parra of the Miami Herald from August 18th 2018 and re-blog an edited copy which I believe is representative of several patient complications I am particularly aware of in patients who have taken their chances abroad for medical procedures. I have underlined commentary in the article which does also occur here in the US.] https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/colombia/article216894500.html

Colombia has become the fourth leading destination for foreigners seeking cosmetic surgeries, most of them Spaniards and U.S. citizens lured by the lower prices and the promise of maintaining a youthful appearance.

But behind the veil of a perfect body lie the risks of disfigured faces [body’s and breasts], lifelong scars, damaged organs [, severe infections] and even death. Those are the high costs paid by dozens of patients, including foreigners who traveled to Colombia to undergo beauty procedures with scalpels that sometimes have a double edge.

The South American country has a reputation for quality cosmetic surgeries at lower prices than elsewhere.

A breast implant costs $3,000 to $4,000 in Miami but $1,500 to $3,000 in Colombia. A liposuction that costs $4,000 to $8,000 in Miami costs $800 to $2,500 in Colombia.

More than 75,500 foreigners traveled to cities such as Bogotá, Cali and Medellín in 2016 to undergo cosmetic procedures, accounting for 15 percent of the total number of surgeries carried out that year, according to the International Society of Plastic Surgery (ISAPS).

But what many of the patients don’t know is that a lack of laws and regulations mean their surgery can wind up in the hands of a general physician or even a dentist. And that’s just one of the industry’s serious problems, which include the recent scandal of surgeons who were performing cosmetic procedures for years even though they had never studied the specialty [nor may even have studied in an accredited medical school or residency].

The problems have set off alarms among authorities and physicians, especially because the number of fatal cases spiked by 130 percent in one year, from 13 in 2015 to 30 in 2016, according to the Colombian Institute for Legal Medicine. That’s much higher than the 11 deaths in South Florida since May 2016 reported by the Miami Herald.

The need to regulate the cosmetic surgery industry [in Columbia] has been known for many years, but it was highlighted by a scandal in 2016 that involved renowned doctors around the country.

The scandal started when Colombian journalist Lorena Beltrán publicly accused Dr. Francisco Sales Puccini of malpractice during her breast surgery and of obtaining a diploma in cosmetic surgery from an “express” course at the Veiga de Almeida University in Brazil.

Beltrán went to Sales Puccini’s office, in a exclusive Bogotá neighborhood, in 2014 for breast reduction surgery. She had looked him up on Google and trusted that he had a diploma as a cosmetic surgeon.

“At that point I believed him,” said Beltrán, who paid about $1,700 for the procedure.

Complications from the surgery started one week later: “My breasts were purple. They hurt. One of my nipples was almost ripping away from the sutures. It was going necrotic,” said Beltrán.


This information is not meant as medical advice. It is provided solely for education. Our practice would be pleased to discuss your unique circumstances and needs as they relate to these topics.

Give us a call at  410.602.3322  or email Lauri@DrDeanKane.com and make an appointment soon. We’re located on Reservoir Circle just a block off the Baltimore beltway, convenient to greater Baltimore, Annapolis, the Eastern Shore, Southern Pennsylvania, Delaware and Carroll County.

« »