Oct 07

I still don’t know the source of the infections that caused the Center for Disease Control and the U.S. State Department to warn against cosmetic surgery in the Dominican Republic in 2004. I don’t know the names of the patients; I think it would be very hard to find those out. Their privacy would be protected by both the CDC and their doctors.

But there has been no such outbreak since that time, or I almost certainly would have heard about it. In:

Chapter 2 Page 4 | Sticks and Stones

… I kind of closed the circle on that story, as much as I could. Good doctors and surgeons everywhere agree on fundamental practices that impact patient safety. Surgery, almost by definition, is not 100 percent safe. Even good surgeons can have poor or even disastrous results on occasion, despite every effort to reduce the likelihood to zero.

Patients take risks. They sign a lot of papers before undergoing surgery in which they acknowledge risk. They do their own part to minimize risk by informing themselves about what to expect; by preparing their minds and bodies for surgery; and by choosing a good doctor and surgeon. That is a lot of what Beauty from Afar was (and is) about: patient choices, and how to make good ones. I included the lengthy segments about the Dominican Republic because the story illustrates so many aspects of medical travel. In the end, I draw a different conclusion than did New York City officials, or the U.S. news media. I would not tell anyone not to go to a particular country for surgery. Tens, even hundreds of thousands of patients have gone to the Dominican Republic … or to Mexico, Costa Rica, Brazil, Columbia, Thailand, Malaysia, etc.  for cosmetic surgery in the last five years and have been happy with the results and the price.

And a few have gone and have been unhappy, or worse.

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