A South Florida woman is warning others about the dangers of traveling abroad for cosmetic procedures after being hospitalized with a nasty bacterial infection from an operation in Colombia.
The woman, who didn't want to be identified but agreed to share her story with NBC 6, said she's a breast cancer survivor and was cleared by her doctor in the U.S. to have breast reconstruction surgery.
"Since I had implants prior to that -- that were done in Colombia, they told me they would not open me here and I would have to go over there," she said.
Pain followed the surgery, completed in the Colombian city of Cali, but it never went away.
"I thought I was in good hands," she said.
The woman is now recovering from a bacterial infection after being treated once in Colombia and again at a hospital in Tamarac when she returned. She spent more than a month in the hospital.
"The pain," she said "My left breast [burst] open from the infection."
She is one of nearly a dozen women, eight in New York and two in Connecticut, who have recently come down with infections from cosmetic surgeries in countries like Colombia and the Dominican Republic.
It has prompted officials up north to issue a health alert and warn against so-called "loop tourism" -- attractive to some because of hefty savings.
"Some of it is because they don't clean," the woman said "It's not well sanitized."
This woman said the surgery has forever changed her life.
"I have to live with the scars," she said. She now has a warning for other women.
"Don't do it," she said. "Just because it's less money, because...it's not worth it."
Officials say procedures abroad can not only be dangerous but leave women with little legal recourse for a malpractice claim.