I met Savan in a plastic surgery group on Facebook. She is sharing her story to help others avoid this type of situation. The views expressed here are Sivan Himmelman's and hers alone.
The goal of sharing is not to scare you away from surgery in Mexico – I get ALL of my procedures done there – it is to warn you to do as much research as possible and to trust your intuition if your “Spidey senses” start going off.
“Botched” in Mexico
Sivan's Facebook post is quoted throughout this blog post, as indicated by quotes. I also chatted at length with this wonderful woman and read the horrible comments others were saying about her, acting like she deserved to get botched because she went to Mexico.
The truth is, you can go to Mexico and get plastic surgery safely. And if something does happen when you get surgery, it is NOT YOUR FAULT.
“I am sharing my botched story in an effort to raise awareness & empower others – because too many of us are suffering in silence or have died at the hands of ‘surgeons’ that are not properly licensed, certified and trained.”
“Although this is just a glimpse of what happened to me, my hope is that overtime, we can all become more compassionate and less judgmental towards one another – because at the end of the day, no matter what, no one deserves to go thru this and suffer for a lifetime – physically, emotionally and mentally.”
Tijuana Mexico Plastic Surgery
“In September 2019, I was botched and burned in multiple areas of my body after undergoing plastic surgery by a doctor who misrepresented himself as a board certified plastic surgeon.”
“He performed multiple procedures on me at once, including: Lipo 360, BBL w/ Fat Transfer to my hips, and Breast Implants. He also lipo’d my Inner Thighs, Arms & Pelvic Area (at his recommendation) so that he has more fat to transfer to work with. He assured me he was experienced and that it was safe to do all procedures at once. “
“Within 24hrs, I developed severe bruising everywhere & suffered 3rd degree lipo burns on my stomach and back. The burns were caused by an aggressive lipo, whereby this surgeon lipo’d the exact same area (under the skin) one too many times, causing my skin to burn from inside out. “
“At one point, my skin was literally peeling off – it was like watching a horror movie. He also botched my legs and BBL, which resulted in complications, deformities, and lumps. “
“Immediately after surgery, I also developed a hard lump on my right leg which was painful – and when it continued to get worse, he insisted that he can “fix it”. “
“So three weeks after the original botched surgery, the doctor decided to operate on my right leg a second time.”
“This time he performed lipo on the leg to remove the fat that he had previously placed there, in hopes that it would fix the lump & flatten the area. He seemed confident and promised its a “quick & painless fix”. “
“I was too weak (physically and mentally) to comprehend how severe and life threatening my overall condition was – and that it was too soon to operate a second time on my leg. I just remember feeling scared and confused – but he kept minimizing my condition and “playing nice” – so I trusted him because I wanted to heal so bad. But what happened next was even more traumatic than the original botched surgery. “
“He kept me awake while he lipo’d my leg & I felt everything. I remember crying and screaming on the table – but he just kept going and ignored the excruciating pain I was in, all while his staff just stood there and watched as I begged him to stop. The lipo on the leg was unsuccessful – and he botched my leg even more. “
“My stomach, BBL and both legs are now visibly disfigured, lumpy and uneven, & with internal & external scars, pain, etc.”
“This entire experience (from then to now) has been very traumatic because every day I am reminded of what this man has done to me – and every day, I am still fighting to heal. The mental and the emotional recovery is much greater, longer and even more painful than the physical.”
“I underwent a difficult wound care regime, used various prescription medications and creams, and was regularly treated/evaluated by physicians and specialists in the U.S. I underwent numerous treatments and tests, including over 25 lymphatic massages, Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber treatments, Electrical Stimulations, Kenalog Injections, Biopsies, MRIs, Ultrasounds, X-rays, and more. “
“My body and my skin has gone thru so many stages and the burns took nearly 2 years to heal. It literally looked like my stomach/back was mutilated. “
“Since then, I was seen by multiple US surgeons who confirmed that that (1) the lipo on my stomach and back was way too aggressive, (2) that the surgeon performed too many surgeries on me all at once, and (3) that I am lucky to be alive today. “
“What makes it harder is that I keep getting turned down for revision surgery in the U.S because the surgeons are not comfortable performing surgery on me. That in itself is a hard pill to swallow. But I have to be patient and trust that there’s someone out there that can help me so that I can finally have some form of closure to this. “
“In the meantime, I will continue to share my story and I truly hope that this post can bring awareness and encourage anyone who wants to have surgery to ALWAYS do a thorough research, to watch out for any red flags, and to check the person’s credentials, experience and specialty. “
“Referrals, “good” reviews, a “great” price, “nice” online photos, and even a large social media following, DO NOT mean that the person performing your surgery is qualified and licensed! “
“If a person is NOT properly licensed, truly experienced, and qualified, he/she should NOT pretend to be nor perform any plastic surgeries.”
“Plastic surgery is a life changing decision! So please! Take time to do the research and take time to decide who to go to! And don’t let the price drive your decision!”
“When you’ve hated or disliked your body (or body parts) for so long, and you’re finally ready to take this journey, don’t rush to do it! I never thought I’d still be fighting to heal from this experience & fighting even harder today to love myself. “
“Surgery always comes with a risk… but you can minimize it by educating yourself first and doing the research. “
“And to those who have been botched and are suffering in silence, I STAND WITH YOU! I encourage you to speak up & speak your truth so that YOU can continue to heal. “
“It takes a lot courage to speak up in the face of judgement & criticism. But remember that no one can judge us any worst than we’ve already judged ourselves. So own your story and allow yourself to heal “
“I may have made the worst decision of my life by trusting a “surgeon” that knew how to “play his cards ‘right’”, but that in itself does not justify what this man has done to me and what I’m left to deal with. So I will not stay silent while the man who harmed me gets a pass.”
“As for my surgeon….. He had posted a visibly edited photo of me on his Instagram (just a few days after botching me), which clearly shows that he blurred out the excessive bruises on my body. He captioned the photo: “look at her amazing results”, all while he knew I was fighting for my life with third degree burns. That is not only insensitive, but it is misleading to the public. He also blocked me from his social media after sharing my story publicly. “
“People deserve to know the truth! And as women, I believe it’s important that we encourage each other to use our voice, share our experiences & support each other in this journey. “
“A change can only happen only if we can freely talk about it – instead of being shamed about it. I truly hope that my story helps others. “
Trial by media
Sivan bravely decided to share her story, and we are thankful for it. However, not everyone was as appreciative. She was featured in the New York Post as well as Daily Mail and the backlash was horrendous – even from other women!
We all know people will leave rude comments on articles, no matter the circumstances. But it seems when women share their stories of being botched by plastic surgery, people focus on how they “shouldn't have gotten the surgery” or how it's “their own fault” – and that's not the case.
Savan West (her name on Facebook) says,
“Regardless of what anyone says, I’ve come too far to let people’s judgment affect me. You know? At the end of the day, no one can judge me any worse than I’ve already judged myself and unless someone gets to be in our shoes, living with the emotional and the mental pain for a lifetime, they’ll never know what we go thru as botched victims. People get scammed, hurt, cheated and manipulated in so many ways in life. But this one seems to always get less sympathy and lots of judgement.”
Is your surgeon board certified?
Check, double check, triple check that your doctor is a board certified plastic surgeon. Not a “certified surgeon”, not a “board certified esthetician” but a board certified plastic surgeon. This does not prevent infections, injury, or death, but it does decrease the chances of you ending up in the hands of someone who has no business performing surgery.
I have reached out to multiple doctors who claim to be board certified, but they're not. You need to get PROOF – look them up on this site and make sure they are board certified plastic surgeons. I cannot stress this enough. Do not skimp on this part!
Before booking a surgery with any surgeon – even a board certified one – make sure you check all reviews, and Google phrases like “(doctor's name) botched” or “(doctor's name) death” – also look in Facebook groups like:
Also, look at Real Self for reviews!
Consider how many procedures you're having at once, especially with a high BMI. I decided against a Mommy Makeover because it was too many procedures for me at one time.
If getting surgery in Mexico, make sure your provider has a medical license, known as a cédula professional. You can search here to see if your doctor is a board-certified plastic surgeon.