Health Department advises New Yorkers against 'Lipotourism' for fear of infection

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Friday, June 23, 2017
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NEW YORK (WABC) -- The New York City Health Department is cautioning New Yorkers against "lipotourism" to the Dominican Republic. The Health Department announced it identified 10 cases of Mycobacterium abscessus/chelonae in New York City and Connecticut related to travel to the Dominican Republic. Mycobacterium abscessus/chelonae is a skin and soft tissue infection commonly associated with cosmetic surgery performed in there.

All 10 of the patients underwent cosmetic surgery in the Dominican Republic. Of the 10 patients, 8 were from New York City and between the ages of 28 and 39.

According to the Health Department, "Mycobacterium abscessus/chelonae causes surgical wound infections and can lead to abscesses, damaged or dead skin and soft tissue. Pain, redness, swelling and fluid drainage are the most common symptoms." A health alert has been issued to report any sort of skin or soft tissue infection in patients who traveled to the Dominican Republic for cosmetic surgery since the beginning of 2017.

"We urge anyone who has received cosmetic surgery in the Dominican Republic and developed a skin infection to seek medical care immediately," said Health Commissioner 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."

Local lawmakers have also urged area residents to rethink traveling overseas to receive cosmetic surgery and for those with possible infection to seek medical assistance.

"This recent group of serious infections due to cosmetic surgery obtained abroad underscores the danger and expense many women subject themselves to in order to pursue unrealistic beauty standards," said State Senator Marisol Alcántara."

The Health Department has been working in conjunction with the Centers for Disease control since May to track all infections related to lipotourism to the Dominican Republic. The CDC has reported similar cases in past years, most recently in 2013-2014, and they are working with authorities in the Dominican Republic to investigate the current situation.

The Health Department is requesting that anyone who has traveled to the Dominican Republic to undergo cosmetic surgery and developed a skin infection to contact their doctor or the Health Department through 311.