Since many health insurance plans exclude weight loss surgery, this leaves people faced with the decision to self-pay for bariatric surgery or to forgo what could very well be a life-saving procedure given the devastating effects of obesity and obesity-related diseases on health. Accordingly, more people are opting to self-pay and turning to Mexico for bariatric surgery at facilities like the BariatricPal Hospital MX in Tijuana. That is because the cost of weight loss surgery in Mexico can be significantly reduced from the costs for surgery in the USA and Canada.
At it’s best, self-pay bariatric surgery in Mexico removes the barriers of access and affordability owing to lack of health insurance coverage. Obviously, however, when we look at reducing costs there are tradeoffs that need to be made. Some tradeoffs may increase risk to patient safety while others may not.
BariatricPal Hospital MX Interview with Alex Brecher
With the question of safety of weight loss surgery in Mexico being being top of mind, I turned to Alex Brecher founder of BariatricPal Hospital MX for further exploration. Alex Brecher opened the BariatricPal Hospital MX in 2017 after having run a Mexico medical tourism business for 10 years.
Affordable Bariatric Surgery in Mexico
Which weight loss surgery procedures are performed at the BariatricPal Hospital MX? Please list these in order of most often performed to least often performed and include the cost of each bariatric surgery.
Gastric Sleeve Surgery $4600
Revision Surgery starting at $5100
Mini-Gastric Bypass Surgery $5700
Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass (RYGB) $6000
Duodenal Switch Surgery $6400
Safe Bariatric Surgery in Mexico
According to the medical journal JAMA (Bariatric Complication Rates 2010), serious complications during bariatric surgery average 3.6% for gastric bypass and 2.2% for gastric sleeve. What are your bariatric surgeon’s serious peri-operative complication rates for each of the bariatric surgery procedures and revision weight loss surgery at BariatricPal Hospital in Mexico?
Alex Brecher: Our complication for the Gastric Sleeve, Mini Gastric Bypass, Gastric Bypass and Revisional surgeries are less than 1%.
Those are impressively low complication rates. And what is the optimal length of time to stay in the area after bariatric surgery in Mexico in order to prevent and treat acute complications that potentially could arise?
Alex Brecher: Gastric Sleeve and Mini Gastric Bypass patients stay two nights at BPHMX and one night at a local hotel under doctor’s supervision. Gastric Bypass patients stay three nights at BPHMX and one night at a local hotel under doctor’s supervision.
And how would potential complications be treated that may occur after the patient has returned home to their country?
Alex Brecher: If our patient has a complication that needs immediate attention we supply their primary care physician with all medical and surgical records. We also have Dr. Jalil Illan available to speak with their physician if needed.
How is quality monitored at BariatricPal Hospital MX?
Alex Brecher: We conduct weekly meetings of our department heads and quality control officer to assure our patients team-based care managements protocols are being followed.
Is the BariatricPal Mexico Hospital accredited by The Joint Commission International (JCI), the Mexican Ministry of Health El Consejo de Salubridad General (The General Health Council) or other accrediting body?
Alex Brecher: Asociación de Hospitales de Baja California, COFEPRIS (Comisión Federal para la Protección contra Riesgos Sanitarios), and El Consejo de Salubridad General.
Qualified Mexico Bariatric Surgeon
The bariatric surgeon’s skill is the biggest concern for people considering Mexico for weight loss surgery, according to Obesity Coverage (Weight Loss Surgery in Mexico – A Candid Look). What training and education have your bariatric surgeon and anesthesiologist undergone? What board certifications and accreditations do they hold?
Alex Brecher: Dr. Jalil Illan Fraijo is a member of the Mexican society of bariatric and metabolic surgery, an ASMBS fellow (American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery), and IFSO fellow (International federation for the surgery of Obesity and Metabolic disorders). Dr. Illan’s education and training:
- General Surgery specialty in UNAM
- Board certified General Surgeon
- 2 years sub specialty in advance laparoscopic surgery
- 1 year of bariatric program training
- 6 months DS training in Valencia, Spain
- 6 months RNY training in Fresno, CA and Brasil
- 10 years of experience performing Bariatric Surgery
- Chief of Surgeons for 6 years in ER and trauma surgery department.
Dr. Thanya Curiel is our board certified anesthesiologist. Dr. Curiel’s education and training:
- Anesthesiology specialty training in Mexico City
- Member of the Mexican society of anesthesia
- Member of the Mexican society of bariatric and metabolic surgery as part of our bariatric program
- Member of IFSO as part of our bariatric program
- 10 years of experience with bariatric patients surgery.
What healthcare professionals are on staff at the BariatricPal Hospital MX?
Alex Brecher: Our team of specialists for the multidisciplinary approach of our patients consists of the lead board certified surgeon and two assistant board certified surgeons, so there are three surgeons in the OR, an anesthesiologist, cardiologist, intensive care specialist, nurses and bariatric nutritionist.
Easy rapport with and access to one’s bariatric surgeon post-op is vital to patient safety and well-being. What protocols does BariatricPal Hospital MX have in place to provide this much needed level of support?
Alex Brecher: All BPHMX patients can contact our nutritionist and Dr. Illan via email or phone. Our certified nutritionist has a nine-week postoperative diet program established with weekly communication with each patient.
The ASMBS states (Medical Tourism) extensive travel to undergo bariatric surgery should be discouraged unless appropriate follow-up and continuity of care are arranged and transfer of medical information is adequate. How does the BariatricPal Hospital MX transfer and coordinate patient care from your bariatric surgeon in Mexico to a patient’s physician back home?
Alex Brecher: Every patient is discharged with copies of their preoperative laboratory work, EKG, and DVD of their surgery for the PCP back home.
Mexico Bariatric Surgery: The Bottom Line
Alex, you recently underwent Lap-Band to mini-gastric bypass revision surgery at BariatricPal Hospital MX. Speaking now as a patient, what’s the bottom line on bariatric surgery in Mexico?
Alex Brecher: It’s safe! Just make sure you research your surgeon and facility!
Living larger than ever,
My Bariatric Life