Could Cosmetic Surgery Tourism in Florida Lead to Tragedy?

In Miami, news reports of cosmetic surgeon Dr. Arnaldo Valls’ botched Brazilian Butt Lift resulting in the death of a 40-year-old Baton Rouge mother are helping to expose potential medical risks with this popular procedure. Unfortunately, less attention is being paid to the fact that similar tragedies could occur as South Florida continues to rise as a top destination for cosmetic surgery tourism—where patients combine exotic vacations with affordable medical services.

Typically involving areas outside of the U.S., the practice could be changing as medical horror stories from abroad become more common. Recently, the Miami Herald ran an article on the potential high cost of low-priced plastic surgery in Columbia. Disfigurement, damaged organs and even death are far more than most bargain for when electing for surgery in a country that has far fewer laws and regulations regarding surgery than the U.S.—a situation that could put your looks and even your life in the hands of a general physician or even a dentist.

Unfortunately, Florida’s system for vetting cosmetic surgeons is not that much more sophisticated. There’s even a state law that says any doctor with a valid medical license can legally perform any surgery on any patient who provides consent.

And although the United States holds a well-earned reputation for excellent medical care, even our system shields startling numbers. While research reveals that 26 patients died from cosmetic surgery complications in Florida between 2000 and 2010, there have been 11 such deaths reported in South Florida since May 2016.

As I detailed in a recent blog on botched cosmetic surgeries, many of these doctors call themselves “cosmetic surgeons,” however these individuals need only complete a few short weekend courses on liposuction, breast augmentation, or even facelifts before promoting and performing complex procedures such as gluteal fat grafting, better known as the Brazilian Butt Lift.

With no governing body regulating whether a doctor is qualified to perform certain surgical procedures, the difficult choice of who is truly capable is left to the unsuspecting, and often misinformed, patient. Thus, it’s important to be aware, be informed, and be careful when selecting a plastic surgeon—the price of beauty should never be a person’s life.

If you or a loved one were injured during a plastic surgery procedure—especially one that was performed by a medical professional who might be practicing outside of his or her expertise—it’s important that you speak with a skilled and experienced medical malpractice attorney to evaluate your case. Please contact us for a free and confidential legal consultation.

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