Celebrity surgeon warns Brits against cosmetic surgery tourism as infection risks in Dominican Republic are revealed

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If you’re thinking of heading to a Caribbean paradise for cosmetic surgery, think again.

Earlier this week, the Daily Star reported one woman’s crusade to ‘bring down the cowboy surgeons operating out of the Dominican Republic’.

Meredith Page, 41, lost her friend, Rachene Hutchinson, in 2014, following surgery on the island, where breast enhancements can cost as little as £1,500 compared to an estimated £7,000 price tag here in the UK.

She reports of receiving stories, videos and pictures daily from victims showing similar horrific cosmetic surgery botched jobs.

And this week it was revealed that mycobacteria infections among US medical tourists have also been linked to cosmetic procedures conducted in clinics on the Caribbean island.

According to an investigation recently published in Emerging Infectious Diseases’, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene received reports of M. abscessus complex-positive surgical site infections (SSIs) in two women who had recently undergone cosmetic surgery at a private clinic in the Dominican Republic.

After interviews with both women raised concerns of additional unrecognised cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health departments launched an investigation to determine the scope of this potential RGM outbreak among medical tourists.

David Schnabel, of the CDC, explained that infections with rapidly growing mycobacteria (RGM), which include the species Mycobacterium abscessus, M. chelonae and M. fortuitum, are difficult to diagnose.

He said: ‘Infections by these organisms acquired in healthcare settings are most often associated with breeched sterile technique and exposure to non-sterile water. Outbreaks in these settings have been reported and include those associated with cosmetic surgery.’

Interviews with the affected patients suggest that many participated in medical tourism to save money.
Now, award-winning celebrity aesthetics surgeon Dr Vincent Wong — a comparethetreatment.com expert — is warning patients to think again if considering seeking cosmetic procedures abroad.

He says: ‘I have treated patients who had fillers done abroad and weren't satisfied with the results and, more alarmingly, had no idea what was injected nor what qualifications the person administering the treatment had.

‘Here, in the UK, doctors and surgeons are regulated by the General Medical Council and have to be revalidated to ensure that their skills and knowledge are up to date, which goes some way to ensuring a high level of experience.’

He adds: ‘The products available in the UK market also have to undergo various approval processes (e.g. CE marking) to ensure quality and safety. Although the cost may be a little higher, the products used are original products — not counterfeit — and will have undergone various studies to prove their efficacy and to minimise any long-term side effects.

‘Post-procedure care is all. Cosmetic procedures — even non-surgical procedures — come with risks. It is therefore important you receive the appropriate aftercare and that you can go back to the doctor/surgeon/practitioner for follow-up appointments and to have check ups should things go wrong.’

Ask Dr Vincent Wong a question today >

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