And, she is not the only one.
A cluster of cases relating to skin and tissue infections associated with plastic surgery done in the country was identified – involving 10 women, eight in New York City (including McFaline), and two in Connecticut. The infections, called Mycobacterium abscessus/chelonae, attack the skin or soft tissue.
The women underwent cosmetic procedures such as liposuction, tummy tucks, and breast augmentations, lifts or reductions between 2 March and 27 April this year.
Eight of the patients were treated at Central International de Cirugía Estética (CIPLA) in Santo Domingo.
“We urge anyone who has received cosmetic surgery in the Dominican Republic and developed a skin infection to seek medical care immediately,” advised Dr Mary T. Bassett. “Just as important is to remind anyone who seeks elective cosmetic surgery in New York City, other U.S. states or abroad, to make sure they choose a doctor and a medical facility that is licensed.”
The women were then hospitalised, had tissue removed and underwent several weeks of intravenous, according to city health commissioner, Dr Bassett.
There have been no deaths from this cluster, DOH said.
Temptations of bargains may turn out to be more costly
McFaline recounts her horror story to warn off other women seeking cosmetic surgery, saying that it was not worth the risk.
"I almost died. Look at my breast, I have a hole in my breast, just because I wanted to look better and have a better body," she said. "And it almost cost my life."
McFaline went to CIPLA to update and reduce breast implants she received from a different doctor a decade ago, and to undergo liposuction.
Upon arriving at Santo Domingo, she was hesitant as her surgery was scheduled for 11.30pm and her doctor, Wilfredo Rodriguez-Pena, was rude. But she pushed past her fear as the operating room was clean.
Before returning to New York, she felt week but has a 105-degree fever after she returned. Redness around her breast was seen and she sought medical advice. Doctors at Lenox Hill Hospital found the infection in her breast and removed both implants.
Her New York surgeon requested to speak to Dr Rodriguez-Pena, but was refused and instead ordered McFaline to leave the implants alone and return to the Dominican Republic.
McFaline spent two months in the hospital and has recently been discharged with a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) line for intravenous meds until November to fight off the infection.
The surgeries in the Dominican Republic only cost USD5,300 – but McFaline's recovery cost her much more ̶ removing the implants alone amounted to USD10,000.
UK to take steps in tightening regulations for cosmetic surgeries
However, these cases do not stop women from undergoing cosmetic surgery, particularly if they are offered at bargain prices.
Globally, regulations for cosmetic surgeries are not strict. In the UK, medics ̶ including GPs ̶ are able to perform procedures such as breast enlargements, or facelifts, despite having no training in cosmetic surgery.
As such, a former Health Secretary of the UK, Lord Lansley, tabled a bill to enable the General Medical Council to note on its medical register, which doctors have been awarded a cosmetic surgery by the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS).
If passed, this would allow employers and patients to check which surgeons they should employ.
On 22 June, the Nuffield council on Bioethics also called for a ban on cosmetic surgery, fillers and botox for anyone under the age of 18, especially after experts warned that girls as young as nine were being targeted by cosmetic surgery apps, with "revolting" new tactics used to groom an ever-younger market.
“Surgeons have long campaigned for the regulation of cosmetic surgery to be improved. At present there is little to stop any doctor from practising cosmetic surgery even if they are not suitably skilled and experienced,” remarks Steve Cannon, Vice-President of the RCS.
He added that patients currently rely on word-of-mouth to know which surgeons are able to adequately perform cosmetic surgery. MIMS
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