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Bronx woman ailing from infection contracted during cosmetic surgery in Dominican republic offers grim warning to women

Linda McFaline went to the Dominican Republic for cosmetic surgery and came back with an infection that could have killed her — and she’s not alone, according to the Health Department.

The department has identified a cluster of skin and tissue infections associated with plastic surgery done in the country, it said. The infections, called Mycobacterium abscessus/chelonae, attack the skin or soft tissue and have been found in 10 women, eight in New York City, including McFaline, and two in Connecticut.

And McFaline, 40, of the Bronx, said she wants to share her horror story to warn off other women whose pursuit of beauty could put them in danger.

“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.”

The city has been working with the Centers for Disease Control since May to investigate every skin infection here associated with “lipotourism” to the country.

“We urge anyone who has received cosmetic surgery in the Dominican Republic and developed a skin infection to seek medical care immediately,” Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said, also urging people to choose a doctor and facility that is licensed.

There have been no deaths from this cluster, DOH said, and it is not connected to the death of Janelle Edwards, 25, found dead this month after surgery in the country.

Eight of the women had surgery at the same facility, Centro International de Cirugía Estética (CIPLA) in Santo Domingo, between March 2, 2017 and April 27, 2017.

McFaline went to CIPLA in March to update and reduce breast implants she’d gotten from a different doctor 10 years ago, and to get liposuction.

“I was very nervous, and I was nervous since I was in New York, because I haven’t done surgery in over 10 years,” she said. “I’m 40, going in under anesthesia.”

There were things that worried her when she arrived in Santo Domingo, too — her surgery was at 11:30 p.m., and she said her doctor, Wilfredo Rodriguez-Pena, was rude. But the operating room was clean, she said, and she was there, so she pushed past her fear.

At first, she felt a little weak. But by the time she returned to New York, on a Monday, she was running a 105-degree fever and began taking antibiotics and Tylenol. By Wednesday, she saw redness around her breast and sent a picture to a surgeon in New York, who advised her it was infected.

By Friday, she couldn’t move.

Doctors at Lenox Hill Hospital found the infection in her breast, she said, and removed both implants. When her surgeon there asked to speak to Dr. Rodriguez-Pena, who’d done the surgery, he refused — and he told McFaline’s cousin, who spoke to him for her since she was too sick, that she should leave the implants alone and return to the Dominican Republic.

“This is the only thing you can say, and then you don’t want to speak to the doctor?” McFaline recalled her cousin’s shock.

She spent two months in the hospital, she said, afraid and depressed.

“In back of my mind I’m saying, I’m going to die,’” she said. “Even though I wanted to be positive, we’re human and we think like that.”

McFaline is now back home, but with a PICC line for intravenous meds, and what she described as a hole in her breast. She’ll be medicated through November to keep fighting off the infection, she said.

And while the surgeries in the Dominican Republican came at the bargain price of $5,300, her recovery has cost her much more — removing the implants alone was $10,000, she said.

But the surgeries are a big lure to some women — the night she went under the knife, the waiting room at the facility was packed, she said, with around 30 other women. A friend recently underwent surgery in the same place, even after knowing about McFaline’s ordeal.

“Life is too short to waste your life in surgery,” she said.

Source: nydailynews.com

June 22, 2017

Category: DR News |

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Last updated July 20, 2017 at 11:33 PM
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