Bariatric Surgery

Medical Tourism: Take Heed If Traveling Outside the United States

Aug 01, 2019

Medical tourism is on the rise with both Americans traveling across the U.S. and abroad for services and foreigners coming to America. This can be a great way for patients to seek specialty care with world-class providers; but be wary when traveling outside of the United States, particularly to Mexico for bariatric surgery.

Per the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), “Accreditation and other measures of quality control vary widely depending on the country in which the services are being provided. There is no worldwide standard of care, and therefore, there is no way of ensuring that the same safeguards are in place that we are accustomed to in the U.S.” There is an imposed risk without the same standard of regulation in place.

While traveling to Mexico for bariatric surgery can seem financially appealing, it also comes with a great deal of risk. As recently reported just this month, one patient died and seven were left sick in Utah after traveling to Tijuana for bariatric surgery. According to the Utah Department of Health, each patient tested positive for antibiotic-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria. All these patients saw the same surgeon and were referred by an online service marketing weight loss surgery in Mexico to U.S. residents.

Similar cases have occurred nationwide among people seeking healthcare in Mexico. The CDC is investigating the current bacteria outbreak, which was first announced in January. And these are not new findings. Each year we’re seeing reports of patients with complications and medical issues after having bariatric surgery in Mexico. The reality is, while you might be saving money on the procedure itself, you could be left with additional medical expenses and life-threatening complications that outweigh any possible savings.

Bariatric surgery is now commonly performed and is a safe operation in the U.S. Bariatric surgery in the U.S. is generally as safe as gall bladder surgery, hip replacement and a hysterectomy. The mortality rate is 0.2 percent–far lower than other elective operations performed today.

In addition to safety and quality control, the other consideration is your pre-op and post-op care. Remember weight loss surgery success is not just the procedure itself, it’s the education, support and consistent medical care you receive before, during and after your surgery. We recommend follow-up appointments at one to two weeks, six weeks, four months, eight months, one year and yearly going forward. Your commitment to keep up with follow-up appointments, educational sessions and support group attendance will serve to assure your optimum health and success during your weight loss journey.

While we know cost is an important deciding factor, we’re committed to helping every patient who needs weight loss surgery–no exceptions. Insurance coverage, finances or payment methods should not be a roadblock. We accept most major insurance. And if you don’t have bariatric coverage on your policy, or if you don’t qualify, there are other options. We offer one of the lowest self-pay prices in the U.S., along with financing and low monthly payment options.

Both Dr. Nicholson and the Nicholson Clinic have been recognized by professional organizations and patients for excellence in health care. In addition to numerous local and regional awards, the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP) recognizes Nick Nicholson, MD, FACS as an MBSAQIP Verified Surgeon for Baylor Scott & White Regional Medical Center at Plano. And the Nicholson Clinic surgeons operate at a Baylor Scott & White facility that has been awarded the Blue Distinction designation by Blue Cross Blue Shield.

If you are considering bariatric surgery, don’t compromise. Find out why over 15,000 patients from 48 states and 10 countries have traveled to DFW to seek our care. We encourage anyone considering surgery to make an appointment with one of our doctors to learn about your options.

At the Nicholson Clinic, you have access to the nation’s top surgeons, world-class facilities and affordable, compassionate care, right here in North Texas.