I HAD SURGERY IN MEXICO


Welcome back, Tangerineys. If you’re new to our channel, I’m Jordan. This is Maddie. I’m Laska! Together, we are Tangerine Travels. If you don’t know about our channel, we’re living in Mexico right now and we’re making videos about our life traveling throughout Mexico, and now around the world. The last video that we made was very out of character for our channel but it was about my experience with breast implant illness and removing my implants. After making that video, we got so many requests to make a video on the whole experience of medical tourism in Mexico – getting plastic surgery done in Mexico, including the costs, and what the facilities were like, the hospital, doctors, The surgeon that I chose, and everything in between. So, that’s what we’re going to be talking about in today’s video. How I chose a surgeon in Mexico. I originally found my surgeon, Dr Arturo Valdez through the website BreastImplantIllness.com He’s in cancun, which is about 30 minutes away from where we live right now. Yeah, so it was a really convenient place to start. I had my fingers crossed from the beginning that he would be the surgeon for me because it’s so close, It wouldn’t involve flying or anything like that to a different place. So, before I set up an initial consultation with him, I found other women who had used him online from reviews and also this Facebook group that I’m a part of. (link in the description below) So, checked in with other people to see how happy they were with using him and all systems were a “go.” I was getting thumbs-up from everyone. So, we set up the initial consultation. The cost of my surgery in Mexico. First, we are going to dive into the cost behind all of this. That was a huge question that many people had – how much did it cost in Mexico versus what it would have cost in the United States? So, we’ll dive into this first and then later we’re going to talk about the experience – what I thought of the facilities and the surgery itself; recovery, and kind of the in-between, the process details. So, cost! So, the initial consultation, that was 1,000 pesos ($53.25 USD), which if you went through with the surgery, it applies to the total cost of the surgery. After that initial consultation I felt really confident that Dr Valdez was going to do a good job. He seemed super up to date on the latest best practices for surgical techniques and he was even sort of critiquing my previous surgeon on things that he did that Doctor Valdez would not do because they’re out of date practices that lead to bad things happening like in the case of breast implants – capsular contracture and at the end of the appointment it was like I’m booking this – I’m booking the surgery. I thought like, let’s do it. To reserve the surgical room and set up the appointment; get it all set in stone, that was an additional 4,000 pesos, on top of the 1,000 that the appointment cost (totalling 5,000 pesos – $266.27 USD) but that also applied towards the total and the total cost of this, if we paid in cash, which we did, was 55,500 pesos ($2,955 USD). It would have been a little bit more if we wanted to pay with it, all in card. And I think that would have been 60,000 pesos ($3,195 USD). What did the cost include? So, that cost 55,500 pesos ($2,955 USD) included the pre-op appointment, all post-op appointments, the surgery itself, a hospital stay, everything to do with the surgery in the hospital. What it did not include was transportation, a surgical bra or like the post-surgery bra, any of the medications, blood work or any of the extra things that I might have wanted to buy like Arnica Gel. Since we live here, that’s what we did. But I believe they also have a set up if you don’t live there, where it includes everything. Yeah. So, I think there’s something called my medical vacations, which is basically like the actual medical tourism side that they have, where they set you up in a hotel room, and they would really set all of it up for you. What would this cost in the US? But let’s compare this to what it would have cost. So, it was 55,500 pesos ($2,955 USD) and if you wanted to get that done in Arizona on that website you mentioned earlier, they have a list of all the approved surgeons for this and I think that cheapest surgeon is 6,000 US dollars in Arizona and that goes up to about 9,000 (US) dollars. And this is just talking about for this particular surgery, which is an En bloc capsulectomy. It does not include the cost for a lift or any other modifications besides taking the implant plus its capsule out, so it gets way more expensive beyond that, but that gives you a general idea. Yeah, if you wanted to stay in the US – if you’re willing to travel around, I think I found a surgeon in Arkansas that was like 4,200 US dollars and maybe one, in one other state that was cheaper than that, but in general like the 6,000 to 9,000 (US) dollars range is pretty average. My surgeon and his office. So, now we’re going to talk about Dr Valdez and his facilities. Yeah. So, we make the half hour drive to Cancun and we pull up to this pretty modern, high-rise building that looked really nice and we go up to his office on the 9th floor. I think there’re ten floors in the building. Inside the office – really nice, really clean. The main room where we did most of the chatting and conversations and questions that had this spectacular view of the ocean and you could see it – Cancun’s hotel zones, so that was like, ‘this is pretty nice’. And I know someone’s going to comment this, no, it’s not the ocean, that’s the Caribbean Sea. Oh, whatever! I’m sorry. I used those interchangeably. It’s wrong but I’m… Did we need to know Spanish? Like I said before, I felt really good about Dr Valdez being my surgeon. He seemed to know exactly what he was doing. He talk very confidently, also he was communicating with us in English, which was really nice. Also, his receptionist spoke English, so that was great. And I was able to communicate before and after the appointments via WhatsApp, so that was super convenient. Any additional questions that I had or concerns that came up, I could just text it right over here and I got an answer really quick. Bloodwork and pre-ops. And then, after that initial consultation, then you had to get some blood work done before the surgery. So, we went to a different facility for that, like similar to how you would in the U.S. You would go get your labs done somewhere that’s generally outside of your GP (general practitioner). The cost of the labs and all the prescriptions you got, those two totaled about 2,400 pesos ($127.81 USD). And the process for that was really easy as well. Then, we took those back to the official pre-op appointment. They looked over everything for me. All was good. Nothing crazy came up in the bloodwork. So, that was awesome. I was pretty stressed about that, thinking maybe the surgery wouldn’t be able to move forward because there was some like underlying blood issues. Yeah.
The reason he wanted the blood work was to make sure you were healthy and everything. All the numbers look good to go ahead and proceed with the surgery. Mm-hmm. Then they gave me a few additional instructions for before the surgery like when to arrive, when to stop eating and like kind of your typical pre-op spiel that you get and that was about it. Then everything was good to go for the surgery. Oh, thanks for the kiss (referring to Laska) You can’t get up on the bed. You were annoying in the last video. I’m sorry. [Laughter] This is Laska down here. Go to your spot. Nope, not on the bed. Come here. Come here! Good girl. We have to do this so you don’t hear her tap dancing the whole time. Stay! No! Don’t jump up there. No, stay. Okay. I know you want to be in the video. Yes. No. No. Stay. Lay down. Lay down. Lay down. [Laughter] Lay down or sit down. Okay, good girl, good girl, Laska. The hospital. Next, we’re going to be talking about the hospital and my experience with surgery before and after and the one day I spent in the hospital. I mean, there’re some good things and there’re some not so good things about this hospital. Yeah. So, just a tiny disclaimer here. My negative feelings, or our negative feelings about the hospital and the experience there do not reflect on Dr Valdez as a surgeon. I still feel totally confident in my decision to go with him and he’s a very skilled surgeon. So nothing bad on him, but there were some things that were not so great about the hospital. We’ve had a couple of experiences in the past visiting doctors and emergency rooms in Mexico and we’ll link to all these at the end of this video. So, if you’re curious to check them out. But we get to the hospital and it looks pretty nice – pretty decent facility, a nice clean waiting room. Yeah. It was totally clean, smelled like nothing, meaning there weren’t any bad odors or anything. It was kind of annoying though. They told us to get there at 6:00 a.m and no one, although there were people at the hospital, no one came to bring us to the room or anything until an hour later. Yeah, so we were told to get there at 6:00. The surgery was going to be at 8:00. So then, the two hours would be like prepping – all the prep work before the surgery. When we were finally taken back to the hospital room to get situated, eventually, someone came in, gave me a hospital gown to change out of my clothes and put that on. Then later, Doctor Valdez came in to do like the pre-op sketchings on me, like he had to mark different things, like where the crease of the breast is and where the muscles are and different things like that. Then after, someone came in to take down my food allergies. I’m allergic to gluten, sesame seeds, onions, and peas. So I told them all of that – very serious food allergies. And eventually, an IV was put into my arm. And the anesthesiologist came in, asked you if you were allergic to any medications. I do remember feeling a little bit worried because I knew penicillin translates pretty much to penicillin in Spanish but I’m also allergic to sulfa and I didn’t know what that is in Spanish. It’s sulfas. As it turns out, but it took 3 people before we could finally figure out what the translation was. So, it was like, this doesn’t make me feel very good about not getting sulfa accidentally or something. [Laughter] Should we talk about the room that you were staying in? Okay. Yeah, the room. My hospital room. This is maybe one of my biggest grievances with the hospital. I noticed, well, okay… So, just to give you a picture of what’s going on This is in Cancun, in the Riviera Maya where it’s super humid every single day. It’s right by the ocean… ocean? Sea. Sea? [Laughter] So, it’s humid, I mean it’s very easy for mold to grow because that’s the environment that mold likes. Well, we noticed there was some mold growing on the wall of the hospital room. The one we’re showing you here in the video is not the exact room we were in. We later went back to the hospital and we got footage of a different room, but the layout was the same. Mm-hmm, but yes, we saw mold on the wall and that was like really unsettling because mold spreads very easily through the air and especially when there’s an open wounds involved, like the last thing I need is to get like black mold poisoning or something. Yeah. I mean, there’re lots of mold on the construction here. A lot of buildings have it. But in a hospital, I feel like you really got to do something about that! Yeah, and it’s not like we were like walking around with magnifying glasses looking for this. So, it’s very obvious to notice that and then we opened the bathroom and oh my gosh! Oh that smelled so bad! The worst mold and mildew smell I’ve ever smelled in my whole life. I could barely go in there. It was like we had to leave the door closed and I went to the bathroom, and it was like I’m going to die. Like I’m going to die. It’s really bad! So, that’s not a very good environment to be in for after surgery. Overall, besides that fact, I thought it was fairly nice. They had a nice TV in there with Netflix. Oh, yeah, Smart TV. They had an air-conditioning unit, which I personally feel never actually cooled the room off. It was really muggy and warm in there for me. I know this because at the end of the day I got up and I was like sitting in a puddle of sweat, like I was really hot in there. So, TMI. Sorry. But after they put the IV in you and all of that, the doctor came in, the Anesthesiologist came in, then they wheeled you off to surgery and I didn’t see you for another six hours. The surgery & recovery. Okay, so this next section is going to be the surgery and the recovery from my point of view. And after this, everything was in Spanish. So, I really was not anticipating that. Thankfully we have been learning Spanish for years now, so we can get by. I would prefer not to be having to use that Spanish in like the surgery context…(where miscommunications could be dangerous) But that was the case from the time I left you. It was pretty much go into the elevator, go out at the elevator, go into the surgery room, I was given the anesthesia and again I was like so terrified! I just remember like going to sleep from the anesthesia with people jabbering all around me in Spanish and feeling like you would expect before surgery. I did not want to do it, but… And they didn’t give you anything to calm you down that I know of. They might have said that they gave me something like that but the only person in the room before Doctor Valdez got there, Which I wasn’t actually awake when he was in the room was the Anesthesiologist. She might have given me something like that. And she spoke English well. Yes. She spoke perfect English. So, I guess I lied when I said there was no English happening. Very few words, and then that was it. I was out. Next thing I know I’m waking up in the recovery area which is just kind of in the same corridor – just a few doors down from surgery. Yeah, they said the surgery was going to take 2 to 3 hours. By my timing, I think it took 3 hours and 45 minutes. So, significantly longer than they said it was going to take unless they got started way later than I’m aware of. Which I think actually is a testament to Dr Valdez in his meticulousness because one of the big factors of the surgery is getting all of the scar tissue out that formed around the breast implant. Sometimes, that can take a lot of extra effort to really get in there and get it all out and he did say that the scar capsule extended up into my armpit because that’s how they were originally inserted. So, I imagine that probably added a lot of extra time to it. And it sounded like that’s Pretty unusual to have the scar capsule go all the way up there. Yeah, that probably explained a lot of my pain and a lot of my soreness after the surgery. So after the surgery, you were in the recovery room, which is a separate area. Again, I’m not allowed in the surgery room or the recovery room, so I’m just sitting in the initial room, waiting for you to come back, but you were in the recovery room for another two hours. Yeah, it wasn’t a private room or anything. It was – I had a view of the same door that I came in to – to go into the surgery room. So, that’s why I said it’s kind of in the same corridor, but I woke up, I was uncontrollably shivering for at least an hour. I just felt so cold. There were bright lights on. It wasn’t until another woman came into the recovery area that they were like, “Oh! would you like the lights off? They’re really bright!” And it’s like, “Thank you, yes, that would be great.” But they never brought me a blanket or anything. It got to the point where I was actually in pain from my body, convulsing. Oh my gosh. From shivering so much and I was sitting there thinking, “Just calm yourself down. Just take deep breaths.” “You’re probably not that cold.” Like trying to do these mental exercises. But it was really uncomfortable. And you said someone said it was normal to be really cold or… Oh, yeah. I remember the first words that I said out of surgery – out of anesthesia, like completely out of my mind, were in Spanish. I was thinking like, ‘Oh, go me’. Oh, yeah, you’re giving me a pat back too? Umm… Excuse me. You’re not allowed on the bed. I want to be in the video! [Laughter] Okay, you’re going to tell the story with me Laska, okay? So, my first words out of surgery were in Spanish, and I was like, “Oh, yay, go me!” But I told them I was really cold, and they said in Spanish, “Oh, that’s totally normal.” Meanwhile not giving me a blanket or like anything. Laska, don’t yawn. You’re going to make everyone tired! You’re going to make them fall asleep. Hopefully, this is not that boring. And yeah, so it was two hours I think. Half of that was spent shivering, and the other half was just… I was in so much pain. I mean, I almost couldn’t believe how much pain I was in because I had supposedly gotten a bunch of pain medication and the anesthesia and the whatever else that they gave. But I do remember them asking me at one point (in spanish) “Are you in pain?” And I said (in spanish) “Yes! I’m in a lot of pain!” And this is when you’re back in the…? No, no, that was in recovery. And they were asking me if I was in pain and I was like, “Yes, I am in so much pain right now!” And the lady was like, “Oh, well, I think we gave you something pretty recently.” It was like, “Then why did you ask me?!?” I’m in pain! Give me drugs! Please! One thing I am really glad about is that we have been learning Spanish for the last couple of years, because without this, I don’t know how the situation would have gone and our favorite program to learn Spanish is, of course, Rocket Languages. They’re going to be running a sale on Monday at noon. To be specific, Monday January 13th, at noon is when the sale starts, but it’s only for the first thousand courses sold. So, if you’re interested in that, go over there and check it out at TangerineSpanish.com. If you go to that it’ll take you right to our affiliate link What we recommend is actually signing up for a free trial, so you can take it for a test drive and see if it’s the right language learning program for you, And then, by the time the sale rolls around, you can get a better deal on it and save some cash. And once again, that’s TangerineSpanish.com. But I remember them coming in the room when you were finally back in the room with me, asking if you were in pain, and you’re like “Yes!” Yes. Every time! Because I was in so much pain! I felt like I couldn’t breathe easily. I couldn’t move my arms, like I was in pain everywhere – an ungodly amount of pain. So, then they went to add something to the IV after that, but it never helped. No, I never felt like I was in less pain than when I woke up from surgery. Never, the whole time I was in the hospital. Oh and also in the recovery room I remember hearing one of the nurses on the phone saying some of the things that I’m allergic to or at least in my half- totally spaced out of it. Like in so much pain-shivering-death mode. I heard her saying some of my food allergies, but they were wrong, and she didn’t mention gluten. So, she had said “ajo” which means garlic, which you’re not allergic to it. I’m not allergic to garlic. Ajonjolí is sesame and I am allergic that. And we specified this. We went back and forth. We got this (taken care of beforehand). We got this settled beforehand. And I never heard gluten and that’s perhaps the most severe of all of these like I will be throwing up violently if I eat it. So, imagine how much pain you would have been in if you’re throwing up. You could hardly do anything if you had to throw up, that would have been so incredibly painful for you. I couldn’t even lift a spoon like It felt so heavy. So, I explained to her what the allergies were. She told the person on the phone. Then when I was getting transferred back to the hospital room, she told the next nurse who was taking me to the hospital room. Then I explained once again to that nurse what the allergies were just to make absolutely sure. So at this point, three different people have been told my exact food allergies. When I got back to the room, they brought out lunch for the day, (Looking extra cute after surgery. Trying to hold it together despite the pain.) which was amazing because at that point I was already on a 12 hour fast and I probably hadn’t eaten for another six hours since the time of arrival to the end of surgery. Unfortunately, we saw that it was soup. The two main portions were like types of soup or something and I asked if it had onions and they took both of those away because they did. Or they had gluten in them and I was left with a banana, Jello, and hibiscus tea for lunch, after not eating for so long. It really sucked. What you ended up eating was the food we brought with. We brought some pistachios and some popcorn with. So, that’s what you ended up getting your calories from. Yeah, and then later, they freaking bring you a sandwich! Oh, this is where it really gets good, “good.” They bring out a sandwich and I’m like “Is this Gluten-free bread or…” And the lady’s like, no, it doesn’t say on here – like she’s arguing with me back and forth that she was straight up Arguing with me. And she was like “You didn’t tell them that you’re allergic to gluten.” Oh yeah “You didn’t say this” And I was like, “Yeah I did, several times to several different people!” That would never happen! I would never leave that out of my allergies. So, she then asks, ‘Can I pick the bread off of the sandwich?’ Imagine someone has a peanut allergy and they get a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and you just go, ‘Can you just pick the peanuts off?’ And she literally stands there staring at you for a couple minutes, like, “Well, are you going to eat it?” And then, she ends up saying, well, you can go to the store if you want some food. This lady was pissing (me off). She made me so mad! And I was just so hungry. You guys, I was so hungry! Really unprofessional – terrible in the bedside manner department and also just blatant disregard for my health. I just had surgery and you’re going to ask if I can pick off a food allergy that I have? To be so careless. If it was something less obvious that I wouldn’t be able to see by the time I ate it, they would have me violently throwing up all over the hospital room right after I had surgery, In so much pain because they still refused to give me any more pain medication. In-hospital post-op with Dr. Valdez So, it had been two hours pre-surgery, about four hours in surgery, two hours in the recovery room and then four hours before the surgeon came back at around the time he said he was going to come back to talk with you after you were a little bit more awake and hopefully feeling a little bit better. And he asked you how your pain was, and once again, for the like millionth time that day I was like, I’m in a lot of pain and I was not lying! I’m not like a narcotics feen or something. I don’t like taking anything even ibuprofen unless it’s like an emergency. He left to go get something, came back with a morphine patch. It’s not a morphine patch. He said it’s like morphine. Okay, a ‘like-morphine patch’, and cut it in half because I’m small and slapped that on my arm. Then he was explaining to me how the surgery went and that’s when I learned about how the scar capsule really extended up into my chest more. He was showing me pictures and videos, which I had requested. But probably didn’t want to see. [Laughter] At that point, I was like… I felt it too much! Like seeing the video, I just felt it. You’re like “I can feel everything that happened in there.” Yeah, like “No, I can’t right now.” Something he did make a point of saying was that you seem to be in a lot more pain than his average patient for that procedure. Yeah, so maybe I just got unlucky with that. I don’t think my level of pain is any reflection once again on Doctor Valdez. I think it just happened to be like I have more scar capsule that he had to get out and he probably had to do more digging and scraping in there. Using those words is like heebie-jeebies. Speaking of pain…I’ve seen you in a lot of pain and you have a really high pain tolerance! So, for you to be like “I’m in so much pain!” I can’t imagine how I would have felt. Yeah, that about sums it up. So, doctor Valdez said that patch wasn’t going to kick in for another couple of hours. So, we did stay in the hospital, I believe for a little bit longer until I felt like something was happening But that did not stop the ride home – the drive home about 30 minutes from being so painful! I felt intensely every bump, every pothole, every tope, aka speed bump. It was like, ‘oh my gosh’. I’m so happy that is over and I hope I never have to live through that again. The at-home recovery. As for the rest of the recovery, for the first two days, I didn’t have any strong pain medication. I imagine this is because most people aren’t in the pain that I was in like you already said. He gave me essentially the equivalent of 12 hour ibuprofen and it did nothing. After that going, he checked in again, and I couldn’t even sleep because I was in so much pain. (Two days after surgery, Dr. Valdez called me to check in). So, at that point, he prescribed tramadol, which I took for I believe, days three and four? Which we don’t actually need a prescription for. We were just able to go to the pharmacy and get it here. Oh if I had known! [Laughter] And that got me through the worst of the recovery – as far as healing and all that, everything went as smoothly as it possibly could, besides as much pain as there was. The swelling has gone down incrementally every day that’s passed. It seems to be healing well; the scar. There’s no redness or any Infections there, so looks good. Yep, no infections. 1-week post-op appointment. A week later, I went back for a follow-up appointment and he checked everything to make sure like the pocket where the implant was had fully healed to itself. There wasn’t air. Yeah, there wasn’t an air pocket or whatever in there. And there wasn’t, so thank goodness because he said that they would have had to take a needle and suck the air out or suck it out like… oh my gosh! [Laughter] Hallelujah! That did not have to happen to me. And now coming up, you’re going to have a one-month appointment. But the recovery is going well. Like I said, incrementally every day. I’m feeling better and I haven’t had any infections. Nothing seems out of the ordinary as far as what I expected to have happened after the surgery. So, that’s all very good. Surgery in Mexico VS. Surgery in the U.S Although you experienced a lot of pain. Comparing this to you getting your implants, initially, the experience was way different! When you got them, it was like, okay you get there, you talked to the anesthesiologist immediately. This is back in the U.S. Getting the implants in Phoenix, Arizona – talked to the anesthesiologist immediately, you get into surgery and then, basically, the moment you’re out of surgery, they’re calling me, ‘Okay, come and pick her up’. Yeah, I mean as much as we kind of complained about the hospital and the things that went wrong, I at least got to have two hours of recovery. I spent the entire day in the hospital room, whereas when I had breast augmentation in the first place, it was so rushed! And I remember I was just barely coming back into consciousness. After the anesthesia – after the surgery was over but it was like the second I woke up someone came over and they were like trying to dress me and put my shoes on and then, all of a sudden, Jordan’s coming in and it was like “Where am I?” I didn’t know where I was or how long it had been or anything, they just wanted me out of the door. It was crazy. Like no time at all. Just give her the strongest drugs you got and get her out of here! Reflection on surgery in Mexico. So, now for a little bit of reflection. Would I use Dr. Valdez again? Absolutely! I think he was an A+ surgeon and I definitely recommend him. Would I get another surgery done in Mexico? Yes, but I would probably want to vet the hospital a little bit more or at least knowing what I know now. I would make absolute sure they knew what my allergies were if I wasn’t confident in my ability to communicate the things I needed to, in Spanish. I would make sure that someone would be there. So, I think it’s kind of a learning experience and maybe it would have been a better experience if I had been able to communicate everything effectively. Going through Dr. Valdez, you’ve got to choose between one of two hospitals. If I remember correctly, they gave me the option of two different ones. And as far as I’m concerned, it was like would you like Hospital A, would you like hospital B? Knowing nothing about either. Yeah. I’m like well, which is better? I mean, do you recommend one or the other? What’s the difference in it? As far as I could understand, there wasn’t really any difference. I’m the most disappointed with the hospital side of all of this especially since we’ve had experiences with healthcare and medical in Mexico before and they didn’t drop the ball like they did so many times, yeah, at this hospital. And I think that’s about all I can think to reflect on but if we missed anything in this video please just leave us a comment down below and we’ll do our best to answer your questions. Thank you guys for watching this video. Hopefully it helped you out if you’re considering doing some type of surgery or medical tourism in Mexico. Please, subscribe to our channel to see more videos that we create about our life in Mexico, and travels in Mexico, and also in other parts of the world. And on the end screen here that you’re going to see in just a moment, we’re going to place our what’s it called? Like hospitals experiences in Mexico playlist. Yeah, Medical in Mexico. And also our last video that we made on my experience with breast implant illness and explanting – this surgery that I just had. And one more thing… [Bell Ringing] And gong that bell! So you are the first to be notified the next time we put out a new video, And we’ll see you soon!

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