Beware of Well-Meaning Guests

Dear Patients,

Recently a patient I spent months counseling and assisting with her plastic surgery plans with Dr. Lev in Costa Rica had an unfortunate experience that has become the inspiration for this new page entitled "Beware of Well Meaning Guests".

I will begin by saying that this patient came to me in the first place after doing a great deal of research on the internet and discovering that Dr. Lev was the only plastic surgeon in Costa Rica who had a pristine reputation. She couldn't find one bad word about him anywhere in any chat room or any plastic surgery website anywhere on the internet. She was impressed with his reputation and then with his surgical skills when she met with me in person where I live in Los Angeles to see for herself firsthand the results of his work. I had my second face lift with Dr. Lev in 2007 and the patient and I met in 2012, so she was able to see how well his work was holding up after five years.

This woman was impressed with what she saw and booked a date with Dr. Lev for a thighplasty and then a face lift to be done a week after the thighplasty. Dr. Lev always puts six or seven days between major surgeries. She also informed me that she was bringing her sister along to help take care of her when she was recovering at the recovery facility.>/p>

I tried to talk her out of taking her sister with her because from years of working with plastic surgery patients I knew that as lovely as it sounds to have a loved one with you in Costa Rica, it is usually a bad idea in the end. Loved ones, no matter how loving and nurturing get extremely bored extremely fast when at the recovery facility where there is basically nothing to do but...well....recover! It's like traveling to a foreign country to spend a couple of weeks watching someone rest, sleep, heal, shuffle in their slippers to meals with other recovering patients.

Usually the loved one needs to leave. To spring free of the day to day nothing-to do's and eventually the patient starts to feel badly for being responsible for their loved one's boredom, so they prematurely get themselves out of bed where they NEED to be and go with the loved one on a tour, shopping, etc. Inevitably, the patient ends up setting their healing process back to square one and as a matter of fact, doing too much too soon can actually be detrimental to the surgery itself. In some cases I've seen patients who set themselves back so far they had to be brought back into the operating room because they compromised the surgery by running around way too soon be there for and with their well-meaning loved one.

Let me get back to the story.
This patient and her sister (who DID become quite bored quite quickly) were sitting at the dinner table at the recovery retreat and began chatting with other patients of other plastic surgeons who were also at the same recovery facility.

Before too long, the sister of our patient learned that a couple of other patients recovering there had gone to a doctor that charged "half" of what Dr. Lev charges. The cheaper doctor's patient told the sister that it was "crazy" to spend so much money with Dr. Lev when you could go to their doctor for half the price!

The well-meaning guest of the cheaper doctor and the well-meaning sister of our patient shared this good news with our patient who came to have surgery, of course, with Dr. Lev in the first place.

Needless to say, our patient was quite intrigued with this good news of the cheaper doctor and made an appointment for a consultation with him and lo and behold was able to schedule her surgery with this doctor and in the process had enough money left over to treat her sister to a surgery as well!

So she canceled her surgery with Dr. Lev (yes, two days before her surgery with him) and had her surgery with the cheaper doctor who also threw in a few extra procedures for her (that Dr. Lev refused to do telling her that not only wouldn't she get a good enough result with what she was asking for given the quality of her skin and her age, but he wouldn't do so much surgery on her at one time as it is too dangerous and risky).

The woman ended up having a thighplasty, lipo in a number of places around her body and arms surgery (cuts from armpit to elbow) all in one surgery session! This doctor is "famous" for doing many procedures on a patient at one time. I have heard that he actually calls in other doctors to work with him simultaneously on other parts of the patient's body. This is something Dr. Lev doesn't do and that is one of the many reasons he is as successful as he is with a pristine reputation.

Clearly the patient didn't research the cheaper doctor the way she researched Dr. Lev.

The woman ended up needing three blood transfusions and her blood pressure dropped to a frighteningly low number.

Had I known she was going to go to this doctor I would have asked her to please go on line before she makes a commitment to do this with him and look him up and see what is said about him by his past patients. But I wasn't told about this sudden about face until it was too late.

I guess the main purpose of this "warning" to our future patients is that you need to know going into this that you are going to meet other patients from other doctors down in Costa Rica and they will no doubt be cheaper than Dr. Lev. As I say in my opening letter on this website, if you are looking for surgery "on the cheap," you have come to the wrong doctor. Dr. Lev is probably the best, most respected plastic surgeon in Costa Rica, but he is far from the cheapest.

Compared to Plastic surgeons in the states he is quite a bit less expensive (I would never use the word "cheap" when referring to Dr Lev) but compared to other surgeons in Costa Rica he is more expensive than most.

We have never had this happen with a patient before this. I was shocked to learn of this and felt the need to warn our patients about the possibility of other patients trying to talk them into switching doctors.

So I will end by simply saying, beware of well-meaning patients of other doctors when you are at the recovery facility or in a taxi cab or van being driven by a person who is paid a commission by plastic surgeons to bring non-Costa Rican patients to them. Please try to remember to stay focused on the reason you chose to have your surgery done by Dr. Lev in the first place. Do not get lured to another doctor because he or she is "cheaper". It isn't worth jeopardizing your health and well being to save a few hundred dollars.

Is it?

And if you are lured by a cheaper priced doctor, please at the very least go on line and check out their reputation with their past patients. I do not work as hard as I do nurturing each patient who comes to me only to have them go to another doctor I don't know anything about other than what I hear from past patients of his or hers. There's a very good reason I work with Dr. Lev ONLY. I have been asked by other surgeons in Costa Rica to do for them what I do for Dr. Lev and I have refused every offer. There is only one doctor I will stake my reputation on and that is Dr. Alejandro Lev.

Be well.
Love, Didi