It has been a growing trend for years – more Americans are turning into cosmetic surgery to improve their image and look young.
Last year, surgeons performed 15.9 million surgical and minimally-invasive cosmetic procedures to Americans, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
But there’s a side to cosmetic surgery you don’t often hear. Luis Martinez says his belly button is still leaking after getting at tummy tuck six months ago.
"Having a belly tuck shouldn’t be this problematic," he said. "I’d basically just go like this and it would squirt right in your face!"
Ivis Veracierto says she had to get skin grafts after her tummy tuck turned into an open wound.
And when Crystal Health went in for a Brazilian Butt Lift, she says the surgeon performed a tummy tuck instead. She showed off a seven-inch hole in her stomach.
"At the moment when everything went wrong, I felt like I was going to die," Health said.
These patients reached out to the NBC 6 Investigators to tell their stories and make others aware of what can go wrong.
Because of current state regulation, it’s difficult for a patient to find out a clinic or doctor’s past complications unless any disciplinary action has been levied against the physician.
The NBC 6 Investigators have uncovered through autopsy reports that at least eight women have died undergoing plastic surgery at various clinics in South Florida over the past six years.
That includes Maria Christian, 32, who died this week after a tummy tuck.
Pat Pazmino, a physician and president of the Miami Society of Plastic Surgeons, says complications are rare, if the procedure is done properly.
"It can be done safely,” Pazmino said. Pazmino said patients should do two things before picking a surgeon – make sure the doctor is board certified and affiliated with a local hospital.
“It’s something [plastic surgery] that can create a life changing results – a wonderful result – but when done inappropriately, it can be devastating,” he said.
The NBC 6 Investigators found that less than half of all plastic surgeons in South Florida are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
To be certified by ABPS, surgeons need to have completed education, training requirements and passed tests to show knowledge in their specialty.
“So the patient needs to go ahead and do their homework, understand what the surgeon can accomplish and do as much research as possible,” Pazmino said.
He also said that if a plastic surgery price seems too good to be true, it most likely is.
If you’ve had an issue or complication with plastic surgery in South Florida and want to share your story, send us a Tweet, Facebook message or contact us through our website at NBC6.com.