Mexico Bariatric Surgery

Patient's Complete Guide to Weight Loss Surgery in Mexico

Guide to Weight Loss Surgery in Mexico

Weight loss is one of the most frequently searched keywords in Google. It is also the most common issue that men and women of all age groups face. While some choose to live with it, others want to shed those extra pounds to be lighter, healthier, and fitter.

So, what is your reason to consider weight loss surgery in Mexico?

Mexico is a great country. Undoubtedly, it has cheaper medical facilities than the United States, which makes it a lucrative destination for surgeries like this. As most insurance companies do not cover weight loss treatments and procedures, choosing a cheaper option becomes an inevitable choice.

Mexico is also an option for people not having a healthcare insurance plan. If the surgery is to take place immediately and you are not covered, Mexico is the place to be.

But, before you begin, we would like to take you through a quick guide to help you choose:

  • Do not book a surgery on Discussion Forums or Facebook Groups
  • Most advertisements are blatant
  • Most patient coordinators in the group are people who don’t even know the surgeon
  • Beware of low-cost service providers – they may be fooling you
  • Consider having medical insurance for travel – it is different from other health insurance plans
  • Research the surgeon, read reviews from various sources, check diplomas and certifications
  • Research the hospital and its staff
  • Do not pay anyone directly Mexico; always pay the third party for recourse in case if something
    goes wrong
  • Be realistic

How does the Process work?

Most people prefer to undergo weight loss surgery in their city and country, with a known surgeon.

Moreover, insurance companies exclude bariatric surgery from coverage, leaving people with no other option but to pay from their pocket. Indeed, that’s the irony. As a result, people are always looking out for cheaper and better alternatives.

Luckily, times are different now. The internet has introduced social media, emails, online forums, Zoom, MS Teams, and other tools to help us find good surgeons located in Mexico. Surgeons having a similar experience and expertise like that of your country are widely available.

However, the thought of traveling to another country for a weight loss surgery that involves some risks, an unfamiliar surgeon, foreign medical policies, and unknown hospital regulations are scary.

The best surgeons and most appropriate Mexico hospitals are patient-specific. Therefore, make sure you choose only an experienced surgeon and the best facility with proper access to advanced technology. Before undergoing the surgery, you should feel comfortable with their practice and the hospital.

Since you have to go through a lot of apprehension when you are traveling to Mexico for this surgery, it is best to find other patients who already underwent a similar surgery. You can find them on Facebook and other social networks. Connect with them, visit help groups, and try to learn more about the procedure.

You could also read stories about the surgical experience of people in Mexico from blogs and online forums. Do not shy away from asking personal questions or expressing your anxiety and fear. List all your questions before you start the conversation.

In addition, you could also initiate a forum discussion with some primary contacts from the surgeon’s office. It would help you to find out about the procedure and make sure you are comfortable with that process.

Eventually, cheap becomes expensive. Weight loss surgery is delicate. It demands experience, skills, and finesse. So, do not just focus on the price, which is either cheap or discounted. Though tempting, make your decision solely based on relevant factors like weight loss surgeon’s experience and skills. Generally, weight loss surgery in Mexico is cheap, under $9,000. So, eventually, you would save some cash when compared to a surgery done in Canada or America.

Cost of Weight Loss Surgery in Mexico

Just like dental surgery, most insurance companies do not cover bariatric surgery. That makes it more expensive. Nevertheless, the overall cost of a weight-loss procedure in Mexico is much lesser than in Canada or America.

Weight loss procedures in Mexico are popular amongst Americans living outside the USA. Both Canadians and Americans, for years, traveled to Mexico for a safe bariatric procedure and the number continues to rise.

Mexico is one of the chosen countries for this type of surgery because:

  • Flights to and from Mexico are less expensive compared to other international destinations
  • Many Mexican cities have a relaxing ambiance to ease the minds of patients undergoing surgery. Likewise, other people travel to the country to stay on a vacation after the procedure.
  • Mexico also ensures discretion and privacy to patients undergoing weight loss procedures. For example, it is away from home, and far from family, friends, and co-workers.

Average Cost

Compared to the cost of bariatric surgery in America, Mexico offers less expensive packages and optimum healthcare. However, it is less regulated too. Moreover, as wages are low, the cost of equipment is also low. All these features ensure lower surgery costs.

When the healthcare system is less regulated, it is scary. Nonetheless, skilled and experienced surgeons are unregulated, and thus, the surgeon is solely responsible for the well-being of the patient.

Procedure-wise, on average, bariatric surgery for weight loss in Mexico, costs something like this:

  • Gastric Balloon Surgery for Weight Loss: $3,000 – $9,000
  • Gastric Bypass Surgery for Weight Loss: $6,500 – $11,000
  • Mini Gastric Bypass Surgery for Weight Loss: $6,500 – $11,000
  • Duodenal Switch Surgery for Weight Loss: $6,500 – $11,000
  • Gastric Sleeve Surgery for Weight Loss: $3,400 – $9,000

Most of the weight loss surgery packages include some costs. However, traveling cost to and from Mexico is not included. Transportation within the country, finding suitable accommodation, and the entire transport system for the surgery is included.

Most patients prefer to arrive at least two days before the scheduled day of surgery. This gives them some time to adjust to the new country and settle down, meet the doctors and the medical team, get the initial blood sample tests done, and relax.

Typically, the cost includes:

  • Pre-operative evaluations – preliminary blood tests and physical examinations
  • Anesthesiologist
  • One or two surgeons with an experienced assistant inside the OT
  • Pre and post-operative medication
  • OT costs
  • Dietary guidelines, pre, and postoperative
  • Transportation (to and from the airport and place of residence in Mexico to the clinic or medical facility)
  • Accommodation arrangements at any 5-star hotel

Financing Bariatric Surgery in Mexico

If you are short on capital, but you want to undergo a bariatric procedure, financing options can help. Even the most reputed hospitals in Mexico charge under $10,000 for a weight loss surgery, whereas the same procedure could cost as much as $50,000 in America. As a result, most people choose to travel outside and take optimum advantage of a vacation with additional medical treatments. As per data of the medical tourism index, more than 5 million Americans traveled abroad, in 2018, for weight loss and bariatric procedures, and approximately 30% of them were routed to Mexico.

While many of these patients can pay for the bariatric procedure all by themselves, some of them need financial help. The process of acquiring a personal loan for bariatric surgery in Mexico is simple, just like any other loan. However, the loan is much smaller and more affordable.

Firstly, you have to apply for financial help. Secondly, you must qualify for the loan. Thirdly, your loan is either accepted or rejected.

You can qualify for the loan easily if you have a good credit history.

There are several finance companies eager to help patients undergoing or planning a bariatric procedure. Some of the notable companies are:

  • Medicalmex
  • Upgrade
  • SoFi
  • Upstart
  • Avant
  • Best Egg
  • Freedom Plus
  • Lending Club
  • Light Stream
  • Marcus
  • Payoff
  • Prosper

Risks of Weight Loss Surgery in Mexico

Any surgery has a certain amount of risk associated with it. When it comes to a weight-loss procedure in a different country, you ought to be doubly careful and accompanied by caution and care.

Some of the common risks include:

  • Standards Safety Measures and Care: While America is too stringent in its accreditation and licensing guidelines, Mexico is not. When you choose a Board-Certified bariatric surgeon, it is very important to know whether the person is experienced and skilled in the procedure. Only when you choose an experienced surgeon can you expect proper care and successful surgery.
  • Insurance Related Issues: Many patients fail to realize that if they have any complications after returning from Mexico, insurance in their own country shall not support them. Worst of all, patients are left with no choice but to spend fortunes out of their own pockets. In addition, patients cannot even file a lawsuit of medical malpractice in some other country.
  • Lack of Care for Postoperative Complications: While some patients leave the hospital healthy and hearty, others may have extreme complications due to an existing condition or otherwise. It is difficult to get emergency services in your own country after surgery in Mexico. Take this very seriously.
  • Follow-up Support: Post-surgery follow-up is critical. However, even after staying in Mexico for weeks, patients would not receive lifelong support. Once they are back in their respective countries, they have to depend on the local medical facilities for care and support.

Advantages of Mexico

As weight loss procedures are not covered by insurance, you have to bear the cost separately. However, when in Mexico, insurance is much cheaper. Many travelers who come for this surgery usually get insurance as there are some uncertainties associated with any surgery.

Mexico is the top choice for bariatric surgery and weight loss procedures because:

  • Mexico is the perfect destination for a vacation with beautiful sceneries
  • Mexico flights are less expensive compared to other countries
  • Patients can save a lot by choosing any of the bariatric procedures like Bypass, Lap Band, or VGC procedure in Mexico
  • Extensive traveling is not required in Mexico
  • Patients do not experience that cultural shock
  • Bilingual team of staff – speaking both French and Spanish
  • Easy surgery scheduling

Disadvantages of Mexico

There are a few risks of medical tourism in Mexico, especially for bariatric procedures. Although the increasing cost of these treatments in America compels people to find a solution in other countries, some disadvantages exist.

Since weight loss surgery is a life-altering decision, you have to consider the important factors besides cost to make sure your surgery is a success.

Some of the major disadvantages include:

  • Below standard care
  • No continuance and follow up
  • Patients with pre-existing complications may not receive proper treatment and care
  • You would not have your local dietitian. Making any changes to the diet is important with a surgery like this
  • Support groups become extremely important after a surgery. It is highly unlikely that your local surgeon would accept you after a surgical procedure in Mexico

Ways to Minimize Risks of Traveling After Surgery

Patients having bariatric surgery in Mexico should always take necessary measures for constant caution and care.

To reduce the risk of travel-related complications, follow these steps:

  • Make sure to prepare for standard bariatric surgery. Pack all your essentials.
  • Ensure the passport is ready. This applies to people who want a visa. They have to understand that it could take some time (at least 8 weeks), for processing and having the passport ready Learn about vaccines from the doctor. As per CDC, traveling to Mexico requires you to have Hepatitis A and Typhoid shots
  • Drink only bottled water in Mexico. This would reduce the risk of stomach infections during the surgery
  • Upon reaching the destination, take a day off. Take some time to relax and unwind before the surgery as the experience is stressful. You have to prepare mentally
  • Post-surgery, plan to stay back in Mexico for about two weeks. Avoid traveling immediately after the surgery. Proper recovery is essential before traveling.
  • Understand Deep Vein Thrombosis or DVT. Take all the necessary precautions to reduce the risk of DVT. It is one of the significant risks of traveling abroad for surgery. DVT involves blood clot formation in the deep veins of the lower legs. The risk increases after any surgery due to the immobility of patients for long.

Post-Operative Complications and Risks

As with any other surgery, weight loss procedures also have certain complications. Albeit, the complications are rare. Nonetheless, it is only prudent to be aware and cautious.

Gastric Sleeve Procedure has fewer complications, which might trigger secondary effects, though rarely. If at all you develop any complications, the team of doctors shall handle your matter efficiently. Post-operative complications include:

  • Infections at the site of incision
  • Ulcers
  • Digestive issues
  • Bleeding

Precisely, life-threatening complications generally occur within a week after the procedure. Such complications are leaks, infections, and much more.

Since a patient needs constant support, find a group to assist you with recovery. Support groups ensure that you are on track after the surgery and on your way to recovery. While you are still on group support, engage a dietitian to take care of your food habits. Making changes to your diet is an important part of your recovery. You may have to make several adjustments post-operation.

It is also critical to address other health concerns such as poor nutrient absorption like calcium and iron that can cause osteoporosis and anemia. Taking additional nutritional supplements can counter this. So, you must go for regular screening and blood sample tests.

Risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis during Flight

  • Make sure to have enough room to keep your legs stretched comfortably. Do not stow the baggage under the seat
  • Inside the flight, take deep breaths frequently and stabilize your internal pressure in the body
  • You may even walk to and fro and stretch the leg muscles
  • Do not have sleeping pills; prefer to sleep for a shorter period during flights
  • Don’t allow yourself to dehydrate. Drink plenty of water as well as fluids
  • If you feel, avoid diets caffeinated and aerated drinks like diet soda or diet coke. Avoid alcohol too
  • Do not wear stockings or roll up your pants. This would prevent the legs from constricting

Nutritional Components of Bariatric Surgery

It is crucial to follow a strict diet before and after bariatric surgery. There are some recommended guidelines carefully curated by healthcare providers, aiming to limit calorie consumption, and provide balanced meals to prevent nutrient deficiency and preserve your muscle tissues.

  • East small portions, but balanced meals
  • Follow a low-calorie diet, limiting sweets and fats
  • Maintain a record of the portions of food, including protein and calorie intake
  • Eat slowly, chewing every bite thoroughly
  • Avoid bread, rice, fresh fruits, and raw vegetables, and meats that you cannot chew easily like steak and pork. Only ground meats would be tolerated well after the surgery Avoid using straws, chewing ice, or drinking carbonated beverages. They tend to introduced air into the pouch to cause discomfort
  • Avoid sugar, concentrated sweets, fruit juices, and sugar-containing beverages
  • Your calorie consumption should not exceed 600 calories per day for at least 2 months after the surgery. Thereafter, you can consume up to 1000 calories a day.
  • Drink water and fluids to avoid dehydration. Ensure fluids are caffeine and alcohol-free
  • Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages

Immediately after the surgery, you would be given a liquid diet. Gradually, you can take thicker liquids after discharge from the hospital.

Two weeks post-surgery, you can have pureed and blended foods with over 20gms of protein and below 200 calories.

Top Cities for Mexico Bariatrics

Tijuana

  • The city is closest to America, which ensures affordable WLS on the southern border
  • It is right across the San Ysidro, the USA
  • Tijuana is approximately 19 miles away from San Diego, CA
  • The nearest airport is San Diego, just 20 minutes away

Guadalajara

  • It is the largest city located in Jalisco, Mexico
  • There is one international airport in the city
  • Almost all major airlines are operational here with non-stop flights to and from America

Cancun

  • The resort city is located in the Quintana Roo state of Mexico
  • It is the best option for patients coming from Florida
  • The international airport of Cancun is the point of contact here

Mexicali

  • The border city of Mexico across Calexico in America
  • It is the state capital of Baja California, Mexico
  • Tijuana is approximately 93 miles away

Accreditation for Mexico Bariatrics

The American Joint Commission is responsible for accrediting Mexican hospitals through the international division, which is the Joint Commission International. It is one of the most demanding and respected hospital accreditation agencies in America.

To receive accreditation, a hospital has to pass JCI’s intricate testing for at least 300 standards with up to 1200 data points. Once passed, the hospital receives a certification. An overview of points reviewed includes:

  • Patient assessment
  • Easy access to a new and continuing care
  • Uphold patient rights and family rights
  • Using anesthesia in a surgery
  • Medical use plus management
  • Family and patient education about the surgery
  • Quality improvement and patient safety
  • Prevention of secondary infections and control
  • Staff and management
  • Governance, direction, and leadership
  • Staff education and qualification
  • Transfer of information and communication

Medical facilities that ace these accreditation standards are considered premium clinical/medicinal practices. Mexico has some of the best JCI accredited hospitals that conduct weight loss procedures. Since it takes a lot of time and involves a cost to get JCI accreditation, hospitals look for other options. Luckily, the CSG accreditation comes as a great relief from the Mexican Ministry of Health. CSG is a replica of JCI accreditation with certain standards related to the safety of international patients. If you find a hospital with CSG accreditation, it indicates that the facility is excellent.

Finding a Bariatric Surgeon

Mexico has some of the best bariatric surgeons. However, the greatest concern is to find an experienced surgeon with a high success rate. You are most likely to meet the surgeon even before the surgery, as soon as you enter Mexico. Make sure to let your surgeon know if there are any underlying medical conditions or things to be worried about. They would guide you at every step of the process. Currently, more than 200 bariatric surgeons are practicing worldwide, mainly based in Canada and America. Patients only come to Mexico because it is affordable.

It would be tough to choose a bariatric surgeon as each one is distinguished in their field. However, some of the best names are as follows:

  • Dr. Jaime Ponce De Leon
  • Dr. Hector Perez
  • Dr. Juan Corvala
  • Dr. Miguel Zapata
  • Dr. Guillermo Alvarez
  • Dr. Sergio Verboonen

Some of the best bariatric practices based in Mexico include:

  • Renew Bariatrics
  • A Lighter Me
  • The Obesity Control Center
  • Angeles Hospital
  • Mexicali Bariatric Centre
  • Mexico Bariatric Centre
  • Oasis of Hope
  • Hospital Guadalajara

Center vs Hospital vs Clinic?

The choice of facility makes a difference to the procedure. In Mexico, bariatric surgery clinics are different from hospital settings and facilities. Moreover, clinics are equipped with everything needed to perform critical surgeries. Nonetheless, they are inefficient enough to handle post-surgical complications.

Likewise, hospitals are more equipped with situations arising after the surgery, besides emergency rooms, ICU, pharmacy, X-rays, and other specializations.

Although weight loss procedures conclude with a 100% rate of survival, complications may arise. Clinics and centers handle such situations by sending a patient to the hospital. So, make a wise choice. Which Surgery is Right for Mexico Bariatrics?

Bariatric surgeons in Mexico are capable of carrying out any of the following weight-loss procedures:

  • Gastric Sleeve Surgery: The most preferred bariatric procedure in Mexico with a higher success rate. It restricts the quantity of food you eat. It is a straightforward surgery with fewer complications.
  • Gastric Balloon Procedure: A relatively more complicated procedure involves the insertion of a soft expandable balloon made of silicone, into the esophagus, filled with water (sterile). It takes up stomach space and stays there temporarily.
  • Gastric Bypass Surgery: It involves reducing the stomach, or making it smaller according to calorie intake. It promotes quick weight loss. Roux-en-Y is a common gastric bypass surgery involving surgical stapes or plastic band that creates a pouch inside the stomach that is linked to your small intestine.
  • Mini Gastric Bypass: Although traditional gastric bypass is excellent, it is challenging and risky. A less risky option is the Mini Gastric Bypass that restricts the food quantity you eat as the size of your stomach is reduced.

The choice of surgery depends on the patient’s health condition, existing complications, goal weight, and cost. Take your pick or allow the surgeon and his team to guide you.

Questions to Ask Bariatric Surgeons

Some questions that you should ask the bariatric surgeon to under his practice better are noted below:

  1. Am I qualified for a surgical bariatric procedure?
  2. What are the medical tests to do before the surgery?
  3. What are the risks involved in the procedure?
  4. How soon would I start losing some weight?
  5. Is the bariatric procedure reversible?
  6. How long would it take for me to recover after the surgery?
  7. Does weight loss surgery have any impact on conceiving?
  8. What options are available for a minimally invasive weight loss procedure?
  9. Do I need to make any dietary changes?
  10. Is this procedure covered by insurance?

Final Word

Ultimately, the choice of facility and the doctor for bariatric surgery must be based on some common factors like experience, accomplishments, additional specialties, expenditure, surgery cost, etc. Believe in your gut feeling and choose a place that feels safe for the surgery. Regardless of the choice, what counts is your path to health improvement. Moreover, Mexico is a place that is cheaper for traveling.

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