Nearly 500,000 plastic surgery procedures were performed in Mexico in 2016, by an estimated 1,634 plastic surgeons. This makes Mexico the 4th most popular country in the world for plastic and cosmetic surgery.
Thousands of Americans cross the border each year for a procedure. If you're considering going to Mexico for plastic surgery, you might be feeling a little anxious. That's perfectly normal.
Choosing a plastic surgeon is not a decision you should take lightly.
You might be confused about what to look for. How do you know if a surgeon is qualified? How do you know the surgery will be safe?
Agathe Martin-Lyet makes sure that MEDIGO only partners with trusted plastic surgeons and clinics in Mexico. Here's her guide to finding a safe plastic surgeon.
Are all plastic surgeons in Mexico safe?
I was shocked at what I was told in Mexico. After speaking with many certified surgeons and clinics, I found out that almost anyone can claim to be a plastic surgeon.
Some doctors train for 5 years in general medicine and then take a cheap plastic surgery course. They then call themselves a qualified plastic surgeon.
It's possible to do a course in liposuction without ever having trained to be a doctor, and some of these courses can even be done online. These courses have been linked to organized crime groups.
Becoming a plastic surgeon is expensive and time-consuming. Many doctors take these courses to cut down on the costs of proper accreditation and avoid the years of necessary practice.
This can have disastrous consequences. Many patients go to surgeons offering cut-price surgery who do not have adequate training or experience.
This doesn't mean that all plastic surgeons in Mexico are unsafe. It doesn't mean that you can't find good quality plastic surgery at affordable prices.
It simply means that you need to do your research before deciding on a surgeon or clinic. So what do you need to know exactly?
How do I find a safe plastic surgeon in Mexico?
Above all, the most important certification you should look for is from AMCPER – the Mexican Association of Plastic, Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery. Think of it as the Mexican equivalent of the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
A surgeon who is AMCPER certified is required to undergo many years of education, training and practice in order to be a member. A plastic surgeon not just in name, but also in reality.
Here's what the education and training of a typical AMCPER certified surgeon might look like:
- General Medicine – 6 years
- General Surgery – 3-to-4 years
- Plastic, Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery – 3 years
- Clinic Residency – 1 year
Then they need to complete a written and oral examination to get the certification. Qualified surgeons from abroad still need to complete a full year of residency before they can work in Mexico.
It doesn't stop there, though. The surgeon needs to maintain high standards by attending training courses at home and abroad. Any member who falls below the expected standards could lose their certification.
As a result, even the most recent AMCPER member will already have many years of plastic surgery experience.
There are risks with any plastic surgery procedure, but finding a board certified surgeon will ensure you're in the safest possible hands.
Not sure where to start?
How do I know if my surgeon is certified?
It's very simple.
The Mexican Association of Plastic, Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery has an online directory of certified surgeons.
As well as searching for the surgeon's name, you can also filter by city or region.
TIP: make sure you enter the surgeon's full name! Many of them have two first names and two surnames.
Remember, some surgeons may falsely claim to have the AMCPER accreditation. If they're not listed in the directory, they're not certified.
Through the directory you can find out more about the surgeon's training, experience and areas of expertise.
What about plastic surgeons in Tijuana?
Besides the AMCPER directory, there is another certification to look out for if you're considering plastic surgery in Tijuana.
The Baja California Association of Plastic, Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgeons also has an online directory.
To be listed here, a surgeon must prove that they have AMCPER accreditations that we mentioned earlier.
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How do I know if the clinic is safe?
They say an artist is only as good as his tools, and this is certainly true when it comes to plastic surgery.
Certifications don't mean a thing if the clinic the surgeon operates in isn't modern and well-equipped.
Plastic surgery as an industry is developing at a rapid pace, with new technologies coming onto the market all the time.
A good plastic surgery clinic should be able to tell you about the type of equipment they use and how up-to-date it is.
Check out photos of hospitals and clinics as part of your research. Is the waiting room spacious and clean? How well-equipped do the treatment rooms look? Do the recovery rooms look comfortable?
Looks can be deceiving, of course. Pictures can't tell you the whole story, but they can give you a basic idea of how modern and well-kept the clinic is.
We make sure that all our listed plastic surgery clinics in Mexico have plenty of clear and good-quality photos on their profile.
I've read a lot of reviews – how do I know they're real?
Besides photos, reviews are a great way to learn more about a surgeon or clinic. This is because a clinic could make claims about their level of service that they can't back up.
Above all, patients leaving reviews are more likely to be honest about their experience. Always keep in mind, though, that not all reviews will be real.
Here is a selection of real reviews from MEDIGO patients who went to Mexico for plastic surgery. We verify all reviews before uploading them to ensure they are 100% genuine.
"Picked up by staff member on the California side of the US/Mexico border. Smooth/quick border crossing. One night stay in nice new local hotel the night prior to surgery. The surgery took place around midday after a quick morning consultation meeting with Dr. Aceves. Staff was very friendly and helpful throughout the procedure and post-surgery. Staff member transported me back to my hotel for several days of recovery before departure. I would highly recommend this clinic"
– A patient from the United States went to Maurice Aceves Plastic & Aesthetic Surgeon in Mexicali
"My husband and I both had plastic surgery at Galenia Hospital. We are Americans and at first we were skeptical about having surgery performed in Mexico. Our initial consultation with the doctors and hospital staff put us at ease. A few months later, we came back for our surgeries. From the start of our medical journey until the very end was a great experience. The hospital and surgical rooms are clean. The doctors in the operating room introduce themselves and told us their services during our surgery. After surgery we were delivered to our personal rooms next door to each other. The rooms were clean and the beds were comfortable. The nurses were kind and took really good care of us. The doctors made their rounds and checked in on us. At no time, did we feel uncared for. Honestly, Galenia Hospital will not disappoint you."
– Karman from the United States went to Hospital Galenia in Cancun
Plastic surgeon interview
What is the most important certification which patients need to look for?
AMCPER is our association and the most important organization we belong to here in Mexico. It's the equivalent of the ASPS (American Society of Plastic Surgeons). We cannot be included if we are not board certified. Being a member of AMCPER is a legal requirement for anyone who practices plastic, aesthetic and reconstructive procedures.
Why is the AMCPER certification so important?
There are some plastic surgeons who keep a low profile, who may have some form of training but have not passed the board certification exams. This means their practice is illegal.
In Mexico there are many 'aesthetic surgeons'. These tend to be general doctors who are not board certified but have taken some kind of training in aesthetic procedures, usually for no more than 2 years. They are not plastic surgeons, and there is no guarantee of their surgical skill. This means there is no guarantee of safety or quality. Even a dentist or veterinarian can take these courses and call themselves an aesthetic surgeon.
The AMCPER certification ensures that the surgeon has the adequate training and experience, and also that their skills have been properly examined.
If patients are unsure about their surgeon, the best thing they can do is consult the AMCPER directory.
This may seem scary, but unfortunately it is the reality in Mexico. With the right research, however, it's possible to find good quality and affordable procedures with certified surgeons.
Connect with a certified plastic surgeon today!
As mentioned earlier, MEDIGO works only with certified plastic surgeons in Mexico. Fill out your details below and we'll help you find the surgery you're looking for, totally free of charge.