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Mexico Bariatric Surgery Guide

Today hundreds of thousands of people are undergoing weight loss surgery worldwide. In the United States and Canada, a growing trend of individuals seeking healthcare in Mexico is booming. This guide is here to help individuals learn, research and compare the various options in Mexico.

Consumer Guide to Mexico Bariatric Surgery

US / Mexico Border

When many think of weight loss surgery in Mexico or a foreign country, they may think of a dirty hospital with an inexperienced medical staff. However, this stigma has been proven wrong time and time again. In fact, The Joint Commission International (JCI) recommends it and deems it safe or even safer than United States hospitals. The JCI is a division of the Joint Commission and a medical accreditation agency that tests hospitals abroad on nearly 300 standards and data points in order to determine which medical institutions and facilities best meet the needs of their patients.

According to the Joint Commission International, the primary goal behind the organization is to improve upon the quality, the safety and the efficiency of health care. Ultimately, this means that healthcare provided abroad can be just as safe if not safer than healthcare provided in the United States as long as you choose facilities and providers that are backed by the JCI — weight loss surgery or bariatric surgery is no exception.

Weight loss surgery has a long-standing track record for providing significant as well as sustainable weight loss in many individuals. There are a number of many weight loss surgeries to choose from, and it is important to put some time and effort into choosing the right type of bariatric surgery to deliver the results you are looking for.

Bariatric surgery is a lifelong commitment rather than a quick fix for obesity. This means that you must be prepared to make permanent lifestyle changes in order to support the healthy lifestyle that the surgery aims to begin creating. The process will not simply end when the surgery is complete, but instead it must continue to promote good health and weight loss through proper nutrition and an active lifestyle.

Is Mexico Bariatric Surgery Safe?

There are two considerations to make when considering weight loss surgery in Mexico in terms of safety.

  • The first is whether or not the weight loss operation itself is safe.
  • The second is whether or not having surgery abroad is safe.

The best way to eliminate safety risks is to do your research. Choose the safest bariatric surgery option for your own personal health and well-being, and then make sure that you are selecting a medical facility in Mexico that is accredited, certified and backed by healthcare organizations such as the Joint Commission International. Because the JCI has set stringent standards for healthcare excellence, you can rely upon any healthcare organization that the JCI recommends to uphold these standards.

Additionally, many hospitals and healthcare providers in Mexico actually create partnerships with hospitals and healthcare organizations in the United States, which adds to their reliability because it means that other organizations are holding them to high standards for healthcare excellence. Doing your homework and researching the options available to you is the best way to find a weight loss surgery provider that will alleviate your safety concerns and give you peace of mind.

Concerns

The primary concern that patients have when considering bariatric surgery in Mexico is that by undergoing surgery abroad you are submitting yourself to unsafe conditions, poor quality equipment or under-trained physicians. These are not the reasons why having a surgical procedure performed abroad is so much more cost effective versus the United States. It is important to let these concerns go, because they have no bearing on the actual situation.

There are however other concerns that you should have when deciding on traveling abroad for a weight loss surgery procedure. For example, you may not want to travel alone because going through the recovery period alone can be trying. Bringing a friend or family member along for the surgery is the best way to make sure you have a support system during your recovery. Most physicians recommend that you stay in the country of your surgery for two weeks following the procedure so that you can prevent serious complications such as DVT or Deep Vein Thrombosis. Preventing complications is essential in ensuring that the surgery goes well and there are no side effects. It can be important not to be alone during this time.

There are also a number of weight loss surgery concerns that relate to the surgery itself rather than where the surgery is being performed. It is entirely normal to have concerns when you are undergoing any surgical procedure. Speaking with your physician, surgeon and other healthcare professionals can help to undo some of these fears and concerns. It is vitally important that you educate yourself about the procedure, the results and the safest expectations so that you can go into the operation feeling as safe and secure as possible.

Patients are concerned about complications arising during the actual surgery. Any surgical procedure is going to carry inherent risks regardless of where the surgery is performed. Surgeons and their staff work hard to alleviate these possible complications by working in completely sterile environments.

Patients are also concerned with complications that can arise after the surgery such as infections around the surgical site and venous thrombosis or blood clots. Staple lines from the incision in the stomach can also leak in some types of bariatric surgery. While these complications are possible, they are not common, and physicians will go to great lengths to prevent them and to teach patients how to continue preventing them during the recovery period. Venous thrombosis or blood clots, for example, can be prevented by exercising the leg muscles through walking during the recovery period.

The Process

The biggest area where bariatric surgery in Mexico will differ from bariatric surgery in the United States is the travel aspect. This will require much preparation in terms of traveling to the destination, having the operation, staying in the destination during the recovery procedure and traveling back home.

Here is a breakdown of the entire process of having bariatric surgery performed in Mexico:

  1. The patient will contact a qualified surgeon or hospital in Mexico, or goes through a health travel agency to find an appropriate hospital in Mexico. The chosen surgeon will review the patient’s medical history and will choose an appropriate form of weight loss surgery accordingly.
  2. The local physician and the surgeon in Mexico will communicate in order to discuss the patient and the chosen method of surgery. Correspondence between local physicians and physicians abroad is absolutely essential to make sure that a consensus is reached regarding the patient’s treatment. The surgeon in Mexico and the local physician will collaborate closely to make sure that this is the safest surgical option for the patient and that all other external factors such as time and place of surgery are ideal for the patient’s quick and healthy recovery.
  3. The patient, local physician and surgeon abroad come to a conclusion about the travel plans, which typically incorporate an all-inclusive charge for the entire stay. This should include all of the surgeon’s work, the hospital stay, the room amenities, prescription medications, nurse visits and any necessary follow-up.
  4. Most surgeons will recommend that the patient arrive in Mexico between two and three days before the actual surgical procedure. There are a number of benefits to this, including getting comfortable in the environment before the surgery and undergoing any necessary pre-operative work to make sure that the patient and the surgeon are completely prepared for the surgery.
  5. The patient undergoes the surgical procedure. The surgeon will explain the procedure in depth before putting the patient under anesthesia. This will include an explanation of the recovery process post-surgery. The patient will be moved to a private room after the surgical procedure, and will be encouraged to stay in the hospital for as long as necessary to make sure that there are no complications after the operation.
  6. After the patient’s stay in the hospital, the patient is encouraged to remain in Mexico for at least two weeks for the longer-term recovery. This is the best way to make sure that there are no longer term complications such as blood clots forming in the legs. This is the biggest reason why a travel companion should come to Mexico with the patient, so that the patient is not alone during recovery. There are accommodations that the patient can take advantage of which combine resort-style living accommodations with around-the-clock nursing and medical care for patients who need this type of recovery care after their procedure.
  7. During the recovery process, the patient should collaborate with both the surgeon and his or her local physicians in order to make sure that everything is being done to prevent complications and promote healing and recovery.
  8. After a recovery period of at least two weeks following the operation, the patient can return home. The patient is urged to visit his or her primary care physician or other local physicians handling the recovery process for a check-up and other post-operative care. This is ideal in making sure that the healing process is going smoothly and that there is no further chance of complications.
  9. Even after the two-week recovery process, lifestyle changes must continue to occur to promote weight loss. The patient is urged to continue seeing physicians for help with the health and weight loss process following bariatric surgery in Mexico.

Mexico Travel Tips

Traveling to Mexico

There are several suggestions before and while traveling for those embarking on a weight loss surgery in Mexico. These recommendations have been proven time and time again to lead to a greater success rate of less or no complications after surgery.

If you’re a smoker, stop as soon as possible. Smoking or tobacco can increase the risk of blood clots, one of the most dangerous risks of weight loss surgeries. Also, lose as much weight as possible before traveling for bariatric surgery. This will lower your body mass index (BMI), which lowers your risk for complications in conjunction with your procedure. If you haven’t already, begin to exercise so your body is ready to be active and exercise regularly. If you’re a woman and take birth control pills, talk with your doctors on an alternative contraception as these pills thicken your blood and increase your risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis.

Can Anyone Help Me?

One of the best things one can do while preparing for weight loss surgery abroad is to coordinate between the surgeon abroad and your primary physicians at home. This allows you to get the best possible care during and after your surgical procedure. It is also essential that you do not travel alone, instead bringing at least one additional travel companion who can help you with the entire process. The bariatric surgery process is not a simple one, and so you should not try to go through it alone.

There are many things that you will need to do when preparing for the trip and the operation, including completing paperwork, obtaining travel documentation, getting necessary vaccines for travel, preparing for where you will stay during the recovery period, to name a few.

Notify your primary physician that you are having this surgery and have the information for your physicians and surgeon abroad. They should be working with your surgeon to help you plan your trip to Mexico and the surgery so that when you return home your primary physician can continue to treat you as necessary.
Make sure that your surgeon in Mexico has all of the contact information for your physician or physicians back home, so that they can continue to communicate with your normal medical team about your condition during and after the surgical procedure.

Ensure that your travel companion is up to date on all of the information for the trip and knows how to contact everyone on both your international medical team and your local medical team. Your travel companion should play a vital role in helping you to plan the entire trip so that they know what to do, who to call and so on.
Research special medical travel agents who specialize in this type of travel situation. Although their services can be costly, if you are struggling with the planning of this type of situation, it may help you to hire one who can help choose a hospital and plan the travel arrangements before the surgery and the accommodation and travel arrangements for after the surgery so that you can have the best possible trip.

The Bottom Line

Having bariatric surgery in Mexico is not less safe because of cleanliness or quality of care. The only difference in safety is that travel anywhere during your recovery period can lead to the potential for complications. Surgery closer to home may generally be easier due to travel risks and the potential difficulty for obtaining follow-up care, but the cost differences can make having surgery abroad worth a small amount of additional risk. Weight loss surgery, like all surgical procedures, is inherently risky, so accepting a small amount of additional risk may be well worthwhile for significant cost savings.

The best thing that you can take away from this article is that you need to be informed in order to truly benefit from weight loss surgery in Mexico. Bariatric surgery in Mexico can be completely safe, and its cost effectiveness makes it worthwhile for patients who are ready to lose weight where traditional methods have failed. If you are seriously considering weight loss surgery, it will be beneficial for you to consider what having the operation performed in Mexico can mean for you. Significant cost savings can turn a stressful medical situation into an enjoyable trip abroad as long as you are willing to do your research and make the right choices about your operation and subsequent recovery.

Weight loss surgery may be the answer for you if you are struggling to lose weight on your own. Weight loss surgery in Mexico can make the entire deal even sweeter if you want to save some money and explore a new country during the process.

Resources

Joint Commission International
http://www.obesityaction.org/educational-resources/resource-articles-2/weight-loss-surgery
First Mexican Hospitals and Bariatric Surgeons Awarded Center-of-Excellence Designation
“Patients Beyond Borders” By: Joseft Woodman

Related:
Bariatric Surgery Credentialing Organizations and What They Mean to You

This is a comprehensive guide to what is known as “medical tourism,” or having surgery or other medical procedures performed abroad.