Overview of WLS in Mexico
Many Americans simply cannot afford the high cost of medical care here in the United States. As a result, many individuals have decided to travel outside the country and have their bariatric surgery performed elsewhere.
One of the most popular destinations for weight loss surgery is Mexico, where the weight loss surgery cost is only about half of what it is in the US.
Traveling to Mexico for bariatric surgery is a very attractive option for many individuals who either do not have health insurance or whose health plan will not pay for bariatric surgery. For some, it may be the only way they will be able to afford a weight loss procedure.
The decision to have weight loss surgery is a life-changing step, regardless of whether the surgery will be performed in the United States or in Mexico. While the cost of surgery is a big factor, it is important for individuals to consider other aspects of bariatric surgery as well. When traveling away from home for a major medical procedure such as weight loss surgery, the long distance travel only adds to the list of things to consider.
Cost of Bariatric Surgery in Mexico
The cost of bariatric surgery in Mexico is about half of what it costs in the United States. This makes traveling to Mexico a more affordable option for many people. The cost of surgery may not be the only expense, however, and it is important for individuals to consider other expenses that may be involved. Some of the other costs to consider are pre-op and post-op testing, post-op care, travel expenses, follow-up appointments, and in the case of adjustable gastric band surgery, adjustments or fills.
Many bariatric surgeons in Mexico provide an all-inclusive surgery package, but this can vary so it is important to find out exactly what services are included in the cost and which ones are not. An all-inclusive surgery package generally includes roundtrip airfare, transportation to hotel and/or hospital, hotel, lab tests, surgery costs, surgeon fees, and hospital expenses, as well as scheduling tests and surgery and coordinating travel arrangements. Make sure you find out what expenses are included and if there are any additional expenses you will need to cover.
Safety of Bariatric Surgery in Mexico
While the low cost of bariatric surgery is probably the main reason why so many Americans travel to Mexico for their weight loss procedure, it should not be the only criteria used when choosing a bariatric surgeon and medical facility. Whether you are planning to have your surgery in Mexico or the US, is important to consider the quality of medical care and the issues of safety and support. There are many qualified bariatric surgeons and excellent hospitals in Mexico, but that doesn't mean that they all are. There are both good and bad bariatric surgeons in both the US and Mexico, so it is important to take the time to carefully screen the bariatric surgeon and hospital and/or medical clinic.
When choosing a bariatric surgeon, consider experience, credentials, skill, and reputation. The doctor should have special training in weight loss surgery and be certified in bariatrics. Verify all the information you're given about the surgeon for yourself, such as how many years in bariatrics, how many overall bariatric surgeries, what weight loss procedures are performed, and how many times your choice of weight loss procedure has been performed. Also, search online for patient testimonials. Reading about other patient's experience with a particular doctor can help you make your own decision.
You will also want to find out if the surgery will be performed in a hospital or clinic. While many medical clinics are safe and adequately equipped, a hospital may be better set up to handle any unusual medical complications that might occur. Whether or not you have a surgery location preference, it is important to know ahead of time where the surgery will be performed and not be caught by surprise.
Lap Band Surgery in Mexico
Adjustable gastric band surgery is commonly referred to as lap band surgery by patients, but the terms do not necessarily mean exactly the same thing. While the procedure is generally known as adjustable gastric banding, the type of band that is implanted into the body can be any one of several types. There are many bands used worldwide, but only two are approved by the US FDA for use in the United States, the LAP-BAND System and the REALIZE Band. Make sure you find out what type of band is being implanted and that it is either the LAP BAND or REALIZE Band. This is important for follow-up medical care, including getting adjustments and band fills, in the United States.
If you are considering adjustable gastric band surgery in Mexico, make sure you have arranged for your follow-up care and band fill provider ahead of time. You may choose to return to your bariatric surgeon in Mexico for check-ups and adjustments, or you may wish to find a location closer to home. As many bariatric surgeons will either not treat patients who had surgery by another doctor or charge non-patients considerably higher fees for fills, it is important to have this decided before undergoing surgery. Adjustable gastric bands are dependent on adjustments and fills for weight loss, so finding a fill provider is not something that can be avoided or ignored.
Many bariatric surgeons will include the first year of adjustments and fills in the cost of surgery. For patients who have opted to pay for surgery and fills separately, the cost of fills can range from $100 to $300 for patients, but can cost as much as $1000 for non-patients. At a rate of five to eight fills for the first one to two years, this is quite a financial consideration.
Factors to Consider with Weight Loss Surgery in Mexico
- Training, experience, and reputation of bariatric surgeon
- Hospital or clinic setting
- Pre-Surgery testing (complete blood count, chemistry panel, urine test, EKG, chest X-ray)
- Post-Op testing and nutritional check-ups
- Follow-up care and medical exams
- Travel arrangements (airfare, transportation, hotel, passport to re-enter United States)
- Bringing a support companion
- For adjustable gastric band surgery, what type of band (LAP BAND or REALIZE Band)
- Having a barium swallow after adjustable gastric band surgery (to check stomach opening) before going home
- Finding a fill doctor for adjustable gastric band surgery
Making the Decision
Many people have traveled to Mexico for bariatric surgery and have been happy with their decision, but that does not mean it will be the best choice for everyone. It is important for each individual to consider the various aspects of bariatric surgery and the factors involved with traveling to Mexico for their weight loss surgery. Once you have evaluated the pros and cons of this choice, then you will be better prepared to make a decision and choose what is best for you.