Benefits and Risks of Medical Tourism


For nearly a year, Peral Wallace, 28, has been living his own personal nightmare.

Columbus, Ohio- WARNING: Some of the images in the video are graphic and may disturb some viewers.

For nearly a year, Peral Wallace, 28, has been living his own personal nightmare. A trip to the Dominican Republic for cosmetic surgery in April 2021 changed her life forever.

She went there for cheap liposuction and breast augmentation. The trip not only left her disfigured, it nearly left her dead.

“When they disbanded me, I just screamed,” Wallace said. “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It looked like a child had taken a scalpel and just cut me.

By the time Wallace returned home to Columbus, she was in excruciating pain. Her GP told her she needed to go to the emergency room immediately.

Wallace shared his medical records with 10TV. They show she was admitted to Mt. Carmel East Hospital with what doctors described as a severe infection.

“Doctors told me the infection was most likely caused by non-sterile medical equipment,” Wallace said.

She spent two weeks in the hospital. All the time blaming himself for what was happening to him.

“I was so mad at myself,” Wallace said. “I felt like it was my fault because if I had done more research, you know, it wouldn’t have happened.”

Wallace knew other women who had had surgery by the same doctor in the Dominican Republic and they had excellent results. She expected the same result.

“It’s a reasonable thing to do because you trust doctors,” says Dr. Bivik Shah, board-certified plastic surgeon in Columbus. “Don’t blame yourself. It is impossible to say who is good or not.

Dr Shah said what happened to Wallace is heartbreaking, but unfortunately, he says, it’s more widespread than you might think.

“I’ve had five people that I’ve taken care of, and we regularly get phone calls, I’d say at least one in two a month, from someone who’s been somewhere else out of the country and had a problem. major,” says Dr Shah.

Dr. Shah operates two medical facilities in central Ohio. He started his practice, Columbus Institute of Plastic Surgery, in 2000. He agrees that traveling abroad for medical procedures can save you money, but says the risk is much greater. He says doctors outside the United States don’t have the same safety regulations and protocols to follow.

There is no state medical board to hold them accountable and there is no legal recourse for patients if something goes wrong.

“I think people instinctively trust doctors at least up to a certain level,” says Dr Shah. “So when they see a low price and a doctor who will, they’re convinced there’s no way they’re hurting me.”

But Wallace was injured.

“How could she slaughter my body like this and then take no responsibility?” said Wallace.

10TV tried to get an answer to this question. We called the doctor’s office in the Dominican Republic where Wallace had his operations.

The woman who answered the call identified herself as the physician coordinator. She confirmed Wallace was a former patient but declined to answer any questions about her procedures or what went wrong. She also refused to let us talk to the doctor.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Dominican Republic is perhaps the most dangerous place to travel abroad for cosmetic surgery. Researchers have found higher rates of postoperative infections, complications, and even death among patients who went there for procedures.

“It’s so easy to forget that plastic surgery is real surgery, that you can have serious complications, you can die from it,” Dr. Shah said. “Money is important, but it can never be more important.”

Dr. Shah does not recommend traveling outside the United States for surgery, in fact, he advises against it.

But he adds that if you choose to do so, it’s extremely important to do your research. Check the doctor’s credentials, search the internet for stories about them, look for complaints, anything that would give you information about their qualifications.

Wallace learns to love himself again. She heals both physically and emotionally.

“I practically lost my mind for a while. I was depressed. I tried to kill myself. I ended up in a mental hospital,” she said.

Wallace said she is not the same person she was before this incident. But she is a survivor.

“I decided I wanted to fight for myself because I deserved it,” she said. “I deserve to live. I deserve to be happy.”

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