Americans are being warned not to travel to the Dominican Republic for cut-price plastic surgery — amid a surge in fatalities in the country linked to botched ops.
Researchers in New York found nearly 100 Americans have died in the country over the last decade from the procedures — often within three days of the operation.
Most had received liposuction, the notoriously dangerous Brazilian Butt Lifts (BBLs), or Tummy Tucks. Liposuction simply removes excess fat, while a ‘tuck’ eliminates sagging skin and fat to create a more toned and slimmed-down appearance.
The Dominican Republic is considered one of the most dangerous places in the world to get plastic surgeries because of less regulation and a higher risk of infections from surgeries.
US health officials have also previously warned Americans to avoid Mexico, after infections last year led to four deaths. There was also a kidnapping.
Chicago resident and mother-of-four, Sucretta Tolliver, (left) died December 14 in the Dominican Republic – two days after she underwent cosmetic surgery. New York City-based mother-of-two and nurse Jesmy Tapia, 30, who died days after she received liposuction and breast surgery on the island
Altagracia Díaz, 51, died after receiving a breast reduction in the Dominican Republic
Nearly a million Americans travel outside the US for mostly cosmetic procedures every year, statistics suggest.
Mexico is the most popular destination, with about 400,000 arrivals, although a sizeable number also head to Canada and countries including Thailand, Argentina and the Dominican Republic.
There are no official estimates on how many people visit the Dominican Republic for cosmetic surgery every year, but it is the most popular tourism destination in the Caribbean — receiving about 2.5million visitors from the US alone every year.
For the report, published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports, researchers analyzed data on fatalities among American citizens reported to the US Embassy in the country between 2009 and 2022.
Reports were checked for only those where an individual had also received cosmetic surgery up to three weeks before it was filed.
Data showed a total of 93 deaths were recorded over the period after surgery, or six deaths per year on average.
Overall, there were about 4.1 deaths per year from 2009 to 2018 — the data revealed.
But after this period, the figure jumped to 13 deaths per year from 2019 to 2022 — or more than tripled.
It reached a record high of 17 deaths in one year in 2020.
Among the fatalities were Chicago-based mother-of-four Sucretta Tolliver who died on the island in December 2022 just two days after receiving an unspecified cosmetic procedure.
And New York City-based mother-of-two and nurse Jesmy Tapia, 30, who died days after she received liposuction and breast surgery on the island.
Ms Tapia had reportedly traveled to the island with a friend, who has recovered from her operation without any complications.
In May 2019, a 51-year-old mother died during pre-op surgery on the island at the same clini where Cardi B was supposed to have previously undergone surgery.
Altagracia Diaz, from the US, was scheduled for a breast reduction and to have built-up fluid removed from under her skin in Santo Domingo, the country’s capital.
But during pre-surgery she went into cardiac arrest and died.
Her daughter Yatnna Rivera said at the time after seeing a picture of her mother surrounded by tubes in a hospital: ‘She was dead.
The above shows the number of deaths from plastic surgery reported in the Dominican Republic by year
Officials at a hospital in western Germany have expressed regret after it emerged that one of their surgeons got a cleaner to assist in a toe amputation
‘They were lying, searching for an excuse to look good. They mocked me in front of my face telling me that she was ok.’
The CDC report found that the women were 40 years old on average and most were obese.
Of the deaths, the researchers had medical records for 24 of the 29 patients who had surgery in the country between 2019 and 2020.
Liposuction was the most common surgery received among patients who had died, being received by all the patients.
It was followed by BBLs, which were carried out on 22 patients, and Tummy Tucks (14).
Eleven of the patients who died had also received boob jobs, or breast augmentation, surgeries. They died about three days after the treatment on average.
Most of the deaths were linked to embolic phenomena, which is when fat particles get lodged in the bloodstream and block blood vessels — risking a cardiac arrest.
This is a serious risk for BBLs, where surgeons may accidentally inject fat cells into the blood stream instead of another more padded area.
The researchers warned, however, their report could be an underestimate because many fatalities would not have been reported to the US Embassy.
They also noted they had not looked at post surgery disfigurements and complications, which could also represent a large number.
Since the research was carried out, the Dominican Republic’s Department of Health has visited 77 clinics on the island that offer cosmetic surgery to certify that they were all operating to a high standard.