Americans getting tummy tucks in Tijuana plunges thanks to cartel violence


The number of Americans getting tummy tucks in Tijuana has plunged this year thanks to fears of local cartel violence and the rising value of the peso against the dollar, a new report says.

The medical tourism trade in the city in Mexico has dropped by more than half, according to industry leaders to Border Report.

“There’s a lot of bad publicity about the city creating a negative perception,” said Ricardo Vega Montiel, president of the Plastic Surgeons College of Baja. “The government needs to step up and invest in strategic promotions to generate a better image for the region.”

Montiel told the outlet that a whopping 3,000 Americans normally get bariatric surgery in Tijuana each month.

That figure has now dipped to fewer than 1,500, he said.

Crime fears exploded earlier this year when four Americans were kidnapped by cartel members in Mexico in March, with two later found dead.

The group had gone south of the border so one of them could get a tummy tuck.

Tijuana’s tummy-tuck industry has plunged this year thanks to everything from crime fears to a dropping dollar. Getty Images

Financial considerations are also playing a role in the drop in business, industry leaders said.

The Mexican peso has been strengthening against the dollar, giving prospective tummy tuckers less of an incentive to cross the border.

The procedure can cost upwards of $20,000 in America — and has been known to cost less than half that in Mexico.

The downward trend in Tijuana’s medical business is also negatively impacting local hotels, restaurants and commercial areas, business leaders said.

Compounding the issue further is the fact that two dozen Tijuana cosmetic procedure clinics are under investigation for possible malpractice, the businessmen told the outlet.

Two people died from bariatric complications in the border town in July, according to reports.

Two of the Americans who traveled to Mexico from Texas in the March group for cosmetic surgery also died, although they were killed by traffickers after likely being mistaken for Haitian drug dealers.

The price of a tummy tuck in Mexico can be less than half of the $20,000-plus it costs in the US. Getty Images

Washington McGee, Eric Williams, Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown were snatched from their car March 3 en route to a medical clinic in Matamoros.

Woodard and Brown were both killed, while McGee and Williams were eventually freed after being held captive.

McGee was the one seeking the tummy surgery.

Roughly 1 million Americans go to Mexico for cheaper medical procedures each year. Getty Images/iStockphoto

Montiel said Tijuana is being unfairly pegged as unsafe and that he expects the cosmetic procedure industry to recover.

Tijuana has long been a popular destination for those seeking out the weight-loss measure — with a Facebook group entitled “I Left My Stomach in Mexico” boasting more than 20,000 members.

Roughly 1 million Americans have medical procedures of some kind in Mexico each year.

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