Plastic Surgeon Issues Warning After Third Plastic Surgery-Related Death in Dominican Republic

By Zachary Stieber

A plastic surgeon in the United States is warning Americans against so-called medical tourism after the third death in the Dominican Republic in recent weeks.

Dr. David Cangello, a board-certified plastic surgeon, said that doctors and other medical staff have looser restrictions in countries like the Dominican Republic.

“Things we don’t think about, water supply, ventilation to the facility itself, the standards just aren’t the same,” Cangello told Fox. “So if the water supply, for example, were contaminated, and then that water supply is used during procedures or to sterilize instruments and the instruments become contaminated, that can lead to infections and those, of course, can be life-threatening.”.

If emergencies happen, they are sometimes not equipped to handle them.

General manager Erica Lopez told CNN the hotel has decided to remove liquor dispensers
An aerial view of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. (Erika Santelices/AFP/Getty Image)

“The reality is that complications can occur in the best of hands and in the best of clinics, so pulmonary embolism is something that can occur, but we know here in the United States with the board-certified plastic surgeons, you can expect that the proper precautions will be taken to prevent these sorts of devastating complications,” he added.

Sometimes the people carrying out the surgery are severely underqualified, he added.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have previously issued warnings about medical tourism as did Dr. Bennett of Ederra Bella Plastic Surgery and Medical Spa in Georgia.

That was the case for Miguel Nunez, a 29-year-old New York man who traveled to the Caribbean country to get plastic surgery for the third time.

“Do not do that lipo, you’ve already done two,” his mother recalled saying to him, reported the New York Post.

Nunez died in mid-June after a liposuction procedure.

The doctor who performed the procedure was Dr. Oscar Polanco, reported Pix11, citing “El Caribe,” a local paper. He was a gynecologist, not a plastic surgeon, which was also reported by Telemundo.

Polanco was embroiled in a criminal case last year when two women died in 2015 after he operated on them but the charges were ultimately dropped. He was charged with manslaughter in a separate case in 2016 which is still going through the court system.

Norka Rodriguez, a close friend of Nunez, said that friends with him at the clinic were on Facetime with her and showed her the interior.

“They said it was normal for him to look like he’s not breathing,” Rodriguez said of the nurses at the clinic.

Alexandra Medina in a file photo. (Alexandra Medina/Facebook)

A New York mother, Alexandra Medina, 33, also underwent a liposuction procedure in Santo Domingo and died.

Medina’s sister, Maxine David, told CBS New York that doctors in the United States advised Medina to lose weight, not get liposuction, but she then spoke with a Dominican-based doctor through Facebook.

Alicia Williams in a file photo. (Alicia Williams/Facebook)

“This doctor was like, ‘No problem. We can do it. We can handle it. We’ve dealt with bigger women, so come here. We’ll do it.’ And it was obviously also cheaper,” David said.

The official cause of death was a blood clot.

The deaths came after Alicia Renette Williams, a 45-year-old Alabama schoolteacher, died from complications while undergoing medical procedures in the country.

She passed away on June 7.