Bariatric Surgery in Mexico

If you have researched cash pay or out-of-pocket payment for bariatric surgery, you will undoubtedly have encountered the myriad of clinics across the border in and around Tijuana and elsewhere in Mexico. Not only is this area known for its bariatric tourism, but you’ll also find dozens of other specialized medical clinics available just a stone’s throw from the US border. Medical services in Mexico offer several compelling options for prospective bariatric patients. The biggest is that the cost of surgery, even when paid out-of-pocket, can be significantly less expensive than in the United States.

But does this price differential mean that going to Mexico is a good idea? The decision to go to Mexico is a very personal one that must be made with several considerations in mind.

The Pros of Going to Mexico

Cost: At the top of most patients’ minds is the cost of surgery. The lowest cash pay price in the United States (that we know of) is higher than the average cash price in Mexico. Many patients with high deductible medical insurance plans may benefit from this lower cash price.

Surgeon Training: Just as in the United States, there are also skilled surgeons in Tijuana. Many are trained at US facilities and maintain an emphasis on care and continuing education standards. However, since standards may differ from those in the United States, patients must research their surgeon carefully.

The Cons of Going to Mexico for Bariatric Surgery

Quality Hospitals: While individual surgical facilities may be up to US standards, in case of a complication, you must consider the quality of area hospitals compared to those at home. If there is an emergency during surgery or while you are still in Mexico, you want to be in the best hands.

Longer-term Complications: Complications do not always occur during or immediately after the surgery. They can also arise later when the patient has returned to the United States. It can be challenging to find a surgeon in the United States willing to aggressively manage the complications of another surgeon, especially one from outside the country. Insurance companies may also deny coverage for a complication because the procedure was performed outside the US. It may seem easy enough to get back to Mexico to get the complication handled, but you can’t always wait.

Travel Costs: Depending on where you live, your travel cost to Mexico may be substantial. Also, depending on your recovery period, you may need to arrange an extended stay near the facility.

Pre- and Post-Op Follow-Up: Because you are not near the facility (unless you live in the Southwest), it is possible that surgery can be canceled if scans taken when you arrive in Mexico are not conducive to surgery. Your travel plans may need to be modified at your own expense if the facility cancels the surgery.

Follow-up care is also a concern, as you will not have easy access to the practice or in-person postoperative programs. These facilities may also provide varying follow-up care, ranging from none to comprehensive.

The Bottom Line

Varying levels of quality at Mexican surgical facilities and hospitals mean that you must take great care when choosing your facility. While there are excellent surgeons and medical practitioners in Mexico, standards are often not the same as what you will find in the US.

So, does it make sense to travel to Mexico for bariatric surgery? For some, it may, while others may wish to take advantage of cash pay specials in the United States that may only be a few thousand dollars more than they would find in Mexico while maintaining a familiar quality of care.

For patients interested in traveling to Mexico and understanding more about the programs there, we have compiled a list of 10 questions to ask your Mexican bariatric surgery center. These questions, developed in conjunction with US bariatric surgeons, offer insight into the quality and philosophy of each facility. It is not, however, a comprehensive guide to quality nor an endorsement of any facility in the US or Mexico.

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Surgeons, practitioners, and hospitals wishing to be included in the Bariatric Surgery Corner directory can do so by submitting their listing to us.