Boobs, butts enhancement grabbing headlines but plastic surgery is much more
Prosurgicare duo Dr Jan Hochtritt and wife Chinyere "Miss Chin" Nwaogwugwu (Photo: Joseph Wellington)

Jamaican women are increasingly being caught up in the global frenzy of enhancing buttocks, breasts and other body parts, but one leading plastic surgeon here has his gaze firmly fixed on the US$20-billion medical tourism market.

Dr Jan Hochtritt, who hails from the land where plastic surgery was first performed, in Germany, says Jamaica is well poised to cash in on medical tourism, offering a range of popular surgical procedures that meet international standards but are more affordable.

Hochtritt, one of a handful of plastic surgeons in Jamaica, is not daunted by the small number, noting that his Waterloo Road, Kingston-based Prosurgicare clinic performs an impressive 300 surgeries per year, and is now looking to tap into the burgeoning overseas market.

"Jamaica is potentially a primary destination for medical tourism. Its location is close to the United States. As a country we are an established brand as a top tourist destination. We are English-speaking and we have many qualified doctors. We really have a lot going for us," he tells the Jamaica Observer.

Prosurgicare's Krishawna Henry (left), marketing co-ordinator, and Annakay Whitfield, patient care co-ordinator, ready to welcome clients. (Photo: Joseph Wellington)

Hochtritt says many Americans are seeking medical care, notably plastic surgery, outside the US where they don't have to have medical insurance and so the procedures cost considerably less.

For example, he notes, a patient would have to fork out US$20,000 to $30,000 for a deep plane facelift in the States, compared with US$10,000 to $15,000 in Jamaica. To fix carpal tunnel syndrome, it could easily cost US$4,500 in America, against US$1,500 in Jamaica.

Among the services Jamaica offers, Hochtritt says, are: Reconstructive surgery; hand surgery; aesthetic surgery; burn surgery; tissue transplantation; and micro surgery on blood vessels and nerves.

He discloses that some Americans are already coming to Jamaica for such procedures. They include persons who come to fix complications from surgeries in places like the Dominican Republic, a popular place for plastic surgery.

Female body showing butt enhancement..

Hochtritt suggests that when people, including Jamaicans, hear the term plastic surgery, they usually associate it exclusively with aesthetic surgery, like buttocks and breasts enhancement, but insists it was way more than that.

However, he acknowledges that aesthetic surgery was growing in popularity globally, with both women and men, and usually grab the sensational headlines because of celebrities who flaunt their newly acquired body parts.

Jamaica is no exception and the surgeon reports that it's not just women, as men comprise 10 per cent of his clientèle, with most seeking procedures such as gynaecomastia, or reduction of the so-called 'man boobs' that cause them to look female, liposuction, and other services that make them look younger.

The local clientèle is largely middle to upper class, urban, professionals and creatives who have more spending power.

Prosurgicare also offers popular procedures like tummy tuck; Brazilian butt lift which Jamaicans call 'hottie makeover'; breast augmentation, implants and reduction; vaginal pumping; neck lifting; laser therapy; scar camouflage; fat freezing; tattoo removal; Botox; thigh and arm tightening, and the like.

Hochtritt describes plastic surgery as his passion, saying he was a general surgeon in Germany before finding out that "everything I liked about surgery was in plastic surgery — we are the problem solvers". He has been specialising since 2004.

He was first lured to Jamaica as a student by his ex-girlfriend whom he met in Berlin and followed to the island. They have two children. He went back to continue his training in plastic surgery and practised for a few years, returning to Jamaica in 2007 but leaving again in 2009 to attend a teaching hospital in the Netherlands to train others in plastic surgery.

Back in Jamaica, he met and fell in love with Nigerian-American Chinyere Nwaogwugwu who is now his wife, business partner and mother of three of his children. The duo fell in love with Jamaica and jointly operates Prosurgicare, of which she is the practice director.

The company has a clinic with two operating theatres and a medical spa, sensibly located beside a Starbucks outlet on the Fontana building at Upper Waterloo Road.

When Dr Hochtritt first started practising here in 2007, he found Jamaicans very shy and loathe to speak about doing plastic surgery. As the craze swept the world, much has since changed.

"They speak openly about doing or wanting to do the surgical and non-surgical procedures. They are enquiring more and more about the various options, especially about butt augmentation," he says, adding that Jamaicans had always been attuned to aesthetic procedures.

"Jamaican women always desired curvy, small waist, big bottoms — what they call the Coco Cola bottle shape. They also used to crave chicken pill which were hormones fed to chicken to fatten them. They believed it would give them big buttocks.

"But while it would fatten them, it didn't just fatten the buttocks but caused them to gain weight overall. If you asked me if that was healthy, I would say I don't think so," says Hochtritt.

He was also concerned about Jamaicans falling prey to people who were not qualified to practise plastic surgery but sold themselves as "cosmetic surgeons", which he believes is one of "the threats" to medical tourism.

The surgeon recalls Americans coming to Jamaica to carry out surgical procedures in a hotel, sometimes leading to complications. Some Jamaicans also go to the Dominican Republic to access the service, with often dire results.

"There was a case where a Jamaican went to the DR to do a procedure and came to me about a complication. When I asked her about her implant, she did not know that she had received an implant over there.

"Some doctors there do not speak English well and some Jamaicans do not speak Spanish well. That can lead to problems too," Hochtritt contends.

For 2023, Prosurgicare plans to push for more clients from the US, especially in the promising area of stem cell treatments, and has already began to work with the health ministry to get the necessary certification.

"Medical tourism can contribute significantly to the Jamaican economy and we believe the island will do very well if we promote the sector," says Dr Hochtritt.

By Desmond Allen Executive editor – special assignment

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