New York City is known for a lot of things: Times Square, the Yankees and now ... breast augmentation?
Fueled by a drop in prices, some entrepreneurial plastic surgeons are trying to turn the Big Apple into a destination for medical tourism. They entice patients with packaged stays at hotels like The Pierre, tickets to Broadway shows and even post-surgery consultations with personal shoppers.
“We arrange the hotel, we arrange entertainment for them; we make the stay very pleasant,” said Dr. Michael Kraus, a Madison Avenue cosmetic dentist. His patients, “stay at the Palace and have the choice of seeing two different musicals — most of them haven’t seen ‘Jersey Boys’ or ‘Chicago.’”
Dr. Robert Grant, chief of plastic surgery at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, has partnered with the Pierre Hotel. After a facelift or tummy tuck, that’s where his patients recover; get a massage; meet with a nutritionist; and get a manicure/pedicure or a new haircut. Grant is on call 24/7.
But not all doctors say Broadway and boob jobs should be a package deal.
Dr. Peter Taub, cosmetic surgery professor at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, said he’s resisted the trend while more and more of his city colleagues now offer surgery/tourism packages.
“I think it’s a little bit on the sleazy side, personally; medical care is not something you combine with entertainment,” said Taub. “I don’t think it harms the patient, but I think it demeans the work. Surgery is surgery, and I don’t think you go putting packages together with a dinner or a Broadway show.”
But doctors say they are just trying to make cosmetic surgery a relaxing and fun experience.
“I had a patient yesterday — I redid her whole smile — who said, ‘I can’t believe how pleasurable that was,’” said Kraus. “It has nothing to do with the theater tickets she’ll be using tonight. It has to do with the care she’s getting.”
Real horror stories
Surgery abroad may be cheaper, but it’s not always safer.
A patient came to Dr. Kraus after she had teeth implants in Mexico City. “But they became infected and pus was coming out of her mouth; she was spitting out teeth like Chicklets,” he said.
“And her husband had to give her antibiotic shots in her butt.”