The Truth About Botched Plastic Surgery

There is a danger that hangs over the cosmetic surgery industry—specifically, the risk of botched plastic surgery. While this is a fairly rare occurrence, it does happen occasionally in the United States—and there are plenty of horror stories of bad surgeons in bad facilities creating bad outcomes out there to confirm it.

Many of our patients are excited by the opportunity to change their physical appearance to match the way they feel inside, whether than means reversing the signs of age, bringing the elements of their face into greater harmony, or simply getting back to a pre-pregnancy body. Yet what gives them pause is the fear that they, too, might end up in one of those botched plastic surgery horror stories.

In this post, we want to look a little bit more at the seriousness of botched plastic surgery, but then to offer some practical steps on how you can avoid it, ultimately pursuing a new look with total confidence in your medical team and surgical outcome.

Botched Plastic Surgery Horror Stories

You may have seen recent headlines about a Charlotte, NC woman who went overseas for plastic surgery—and almost died as a result of it.  In preparing for her wedding day, this woman lost over 100 pounds and the extreme weight loss left her with extra skin. She sought out plastic surgery to remove the hanging skin and tighten her belly so she could look her absolute best for her big day. In an effort to save money, she decided to have a procedure done internationally in the Dominican Republic.

At first, it seemed like her surgery had gone well. She spent almost two weeks in a hotel recovering, then flew home to Charlotte. But then she noticed that her incision was incredibly hot, and it only felt worse as time went on. When she contacted her surgeon’s office, they offered little guidance.  Soon her stitches opened up, and she was unable to connect with her overseas doctor for help. After suffering from a long-lasting fever, she finally went to the local hospital for help.

This woman received treatment from Charlotte Plastic Surgery’s very own Dr. Theo Nyame, who immediately diagnosed the patient with septic shock. He rushed her to surgery where it took one operation to save her life, then three more to undo the ill-effects of the botched plastic surgery.

Avoiding Botched Plastic Surgery

Sadly, this is the kind of thing we see all the time—patients who receive bad surgery, bad post-operative care, and then need additional procedures to make things right again. Sometimes, the ill-effects are purely cosmetic—a nose job that doesn’t look anything like the surgeon promised, for instance. But in other cases, the ill-effects are truly life-threatening, as with the woman in this story.

In many cases, these plastic surgery mishaps happen because patients don’t have a lot of money and want to get a procedure done cheap—but of course, it goes without saying that such corner-cutting invites risk. And the expense of follow-up procedures to make everything right again can be far more than it would be to just have plastic surgery done correctly the first time.  For instance, this woman ended up spending tens of thousands of dollars more in hospital bills and revision surgeries than she would have spent if she just had the procedures with a local board certified plastic surgeon here in the United States.

The question is, what can patients do to avoid having such disastrous cosmetic surgery experiences? Here are a few guidelines from the Charlotte Plastic Surgery team.

  • First and foremost, take to heart the story we’ve shared here, and remember the old saying that you get what you pay for. Save money on car insurance, not on a surgical procedure that could mean risking your life. Seeking dirt-cheap plastic surgery anywhere, not just overseas, is just asking for trouble. It’s always better to seek a reputable, board certified plastic surgeon who puts safety first and won’t cut any corners.
  • Always insist on having a thorough consultation with your plastic surgeon (or better yet, find a surgeon who insists on having a thorough consultation with you). As you meet with your plastic surgeon, ask plenty of questions to make sure you’re truly getting qualified, expert care. Some specific things you might ask include:
    • How many times have you performed this specific procedure? Always seek a doctor who has lots of experience and a sterling track record.
    • What are the risks? How often do things go wrong? Be skeptical of any surgeon who seems evasive in answering these questions.
    • Am I a good candidate for the procedure? Always check with your doctor to see if there are health-and-safety reasons why you might not want to have the procedure done, or if there are other procedures that might better address your needs.
    • What are all of my options, both surgical and non-surgical? Again, make sure your surgeon walks you through all possible options.
    • What are some of the possible risks? Again, it’s good to be wary of doctors who don’t want to address these serious issues.
    • Are you Board Certified with the American Board of Plastic Surgeons? Always have your plastic surgeon confirm accreditation; this is really the main credentialing board you want to be aware of. There are many other boards out there, but this one ensures your surgeon is held to the highest standards in safety, skill level, and patient care.
    • Who will be administering the anesthesia? Ideally, your surgeon will say that a trained anesthesiologist or certified registered nurse anesthetist will be on hand. You generally don’t want your plastic surgeon to be doing double-duty by administering the anesthesia and handling the actual procedure; that can be a potentially life-threatening scenario.
  • Make sure you have a clear sense of expectations—both in terms of the outcome of the surgery and what the recovery period will entail. Again, consultation with your plastic surgeon is key, and never something to skip.
  • Ask your doctor about the things you need to do to ensure safety during the procedure. Some examples might be to quit smoking, to take a break from drinking, to lose some weight, or to cease specific medications. Note that at Charlotte Plastic Surgery, patient safety is our top priority, and we’ll always be eager to talk with patients about the ways in which they can put their health and wellbeing first.

Do Your Due Diligence and Avoid Plastic Surgery Mishaps

The bottom line is that botched plastic surgery is a very real thing to watch out for—but by doing your research and making an informed decision, you can avoid this unfortunate fate.

To set up a time to speak with one of our surgeons—and to go into detail about our high standards of patient safety—contact CPS today.