I was called to the emergency room at 2am last week to evaluate a 20 year girl who was complaining of right breast pain. While speaking with her I was informed that several months ago she had traveled to a South American country to have a breast augmentation. She told me that she paid the equivalent of $2000 USD for everything. That included two silicone implants, the operating room and anesthesia. Everything initially went fine and she was happy with her results. However, two days prior to coming to the ER, she starting feeling severe pain in her right breast and she began having fevers. My examination in the ER revealed a red, swollen, tender right breast that appeared to be infected. She had a fever of 102 and her blood work confirmed the diagnosis of infection. I brought her immediately to the operating room and at 4am I removed both of her breast implants. The right implant was obviously infected as there was a large amount of yellow fluid in the implant pocket. After an infectious disease consultation and several days with both drains and intravenous antibiotics, she was discharged home.
This girl was fortunate because her diagnosis was made quickly and her treatment was implemented immediately. If these implants had not been removed, she would have eventually gone into septic shock and died. An important question, however, remains in my mind. The cost of two silicone breast implants in the United States made by one of the two FDA approved implant companies is approximately $2000. The cost of the operating room and an anesthesiologist is another $2000 – $3000. Then, there is the surgeons fee. My question is – how can all of this be performed safely for a total fee of only $2000? I don’t think it can.
Please remember that when choosing a plastic surgeon, it is not enough to just hear that he or she is “board certified.” There are many boards out there. Be an informed consumer and ask specifically about the American Board of Plastic Surgery.