Tijuana plastic-surgery doctors tighten up image

Complications result from 20% of surgeries

Dr. José Bustamante Moreno, Baja California's secretary of health
  • Dr. José Bustamante Moreno, Baja California's secretary of health

In an attempt to bolster public confidence in the practice of plastic surgery in Baja California, the state's secretary of health has published a list of certified plastic surgeons on its official website, saludbc.gob.mx.

The decision to publish the list was announced at a July 4 press conference in Tijuana by the secretary of health and state and national leaders of the plastic-surgery profession following growing complaints of incompetence from patients.

According to a story about the press conference in the Tijuana daily El Mexicano, of every 100 plastic surgeries in Baja California, 20% result in complications, and the surgeons who performed the faulty procedures abandon their patients.

The statistics were provided by Dr. Eduardo Góngora Alejandre, president of the College of Plastic, Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery of Baja California. Patient complaints have created a bad image of qualified plastic surgeons in Tijuana, as well as for the city in general and for medical tourism, Dr. Miguel Angel Parra, a prominent Tijuana plastic surgeon, was quoted as saying in El Mexicano.

During the past year, 35 clinics in Baja California have been closed by state health officials "for irregularities in the practice of medicine," Baja California's secretary of health, Dr. José Bustamante Moreno, said at the press conference. In order for a plastic surgeon to qualify for the secretary of health's list of qualified practitioners, he or she must be properly licensed to practice medicine in Mexico, be licensed to practice plastic surgery as a specialty, and be certified by the Mexican College of Plastic, Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery, a certification that must be renewed every five years.

In addition, all patients who seek the services of a plastic surgeon must give their consent in writing to any procedure, which must include a description of possible consequences of the surgery and must include the signature of the surgeon and of two witnesses, state health officials said at the press conference.

Plastic surgery, bariatric (weight loss) surgery, and dental work are the three most common procedures performed in private clinics in Mexico, Dr. Adrián Manjarrez, president of the Mexican Council of Plastic Surgeons, said at the press conference. Of every ten patients treated at such clinics, two end up with a bad outcome at the hands of an unauthorized physician, he said.

So far, 47 plastic surgeons in Baja California have been certified by the state's secretary of health.

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if you think that your dental work, your boob job, your gastric bypass, or anything else is cheaper in Baja, think again. The place has been a scandal for as long as I've lived in the region--a long time--and nothing much has changed. Many Gringos head south of the border to "save" on many things, and some even attempt to live in TJ or Tecate, and some succeed. Not every physician, not every dentist, not every surgeon, and not every health practitioner there is a fraud. But too many are, and too many practice with impunity. If you value your health, stay away, far away from those discount practitioners in Baja. The life you save may very well be your own.

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