Follow Up Care with a Local Surgeon After Bariatric Surgery In Mexico

Question Below Submitted By:  

Leanne (a patient from Kansas)

If I decide to have my weight loss surgery in Mexico, how likely is it that a local surgeon will work with me for follow up care?

What will my local surgeon want to know, and what are the things I can do to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible when I come back?

Are they usually willing to coordinate or speak with Mexican surgeons to transition my care?

Do local surgeons prefer to conduct follow up care for some procedures and not others? I’m trying to decide between lap band, gastric bypass and gastric sleeve.

My first choice would be to have surgery closer to home, but the bottom line is that I just can’t afford it – and surgery in Mexico is much less expensive. My insurance doesn’t cover it, and I’ve found a couple of reputable surgeons in Mexico who have even practiced/been trained in the United States and have good references.

Thanks for any feedback.



Expert Responses to the Question Above

Surgeon in Mexico: Response to "Follow Up Care with a Local Surgeon After Bariatric Surgery In Mexico"

by: Dr. Gilberto Ungson

Hello Leanne,

I have been doing bariatric surgery on U.S. patients for over 15 years, my practice (Mexicali Bariatric Center) is in Mexico.

Here is what my experience has been over the years...

There are just as many doctors that are not open to following up with you post-op if you had your surgery in Mexico as there are doctors that will be happy to take you on as a patient.

I find that doctors are more and more open now than before to following up with weight loss surgery patients knowing that it will let them lead a healthier life and improve their quality of life.

Some surgeries require more follow-up than others.

For example, while the lap band is a simpler procedure, it is the one that requires the most follow-up care for many years to come and you do need a specialist to do fills/adjustments on the band.

If follow-up is a concern, I would recommend you choose a more effective procedure for the short- and long-term that will not require as much follow up like the sleeve, bypass or DS. Weight loss is also better for these permanent procedures.

Usually follow-up for these procedures just requires blood work and possible x-rays. Most experienced surgeons in Mexico have a system set up so you do not need to keep coming back for follow up here.

You will get specific instructions on diet, tests to have done, etc. And a serious practice in Mexico is always open to speaking to US doctors.

Unless there is a complication, you do not need a bariatric surgeon to do your follow up. Most patients follow up with their family doctors.

An established practice in Mexico will provide you with documentation to take back home.

For instance, my practice provides an operative report, a CD with x-rays before and after surgery and lab results.

This is what your U.S. doctor will request from you when taking you on as a patient. While complications may occur, as is a possibility with surgery being done anywhere, choosing an experienced surgeon and not basing your choice solely on price is very important to reduce your surgery risks.

While it is understandable that many patents choose to go out of the country because of cost savings and no insurance coverage, there are different levels of surgeons in Mexico. You need to base your decision on experience, facilities, the surgeon's long-term results and, of course, pricing.

Do your research and you will help reduce your surgery risks and improve your long-term results.

Keep in mind that effectiveness and good results are sustained by the surgeon’s experience and an expert team. It is more convenient to have a local surgeon, but not necessarily better depending on the experience and results of the surgical team.

Additionally, there are now several companies selling complication insurance for patients traveling out of the country for medical procedures. If you are traveling to Mexico and are nervous about post-op complications, you might want to check them out, some cover you for up to 6 months.

Insurance companies we have worked with include Global Protective Solutions (GPS) and Novamar Insurance.

Take care,

Dr. Gilberto Ungson

Mexicali Bariatric Center

(click here for Dr. Ungson's full bio & contact info)

Dr. Gilberto Ungson

DISCLAIMER: This educational advice is based on the depth of your question and the details provided. The above should never replace the advice of your local physicians as they have the ability to evaluate you in person.

Surgeon Response to "Follow Up Care with a Local Surgeon After Bariatric Surgery In Mexico"

by: John Rabkin, M.D., Pacific Laparoscopy


Most bariatric surgeons are not comfortable taking care of patients who have traveled out of the country for their bariatric surgery.

The 'quality control' is not the same as it is in the United States where regulatory oversight ensures a minimal standard of care.

Furthermore, patients who travel out of the country for their bariatric surgery often only seek local care for problems that they encounter, problems that no surgeon would choose to be responsible for unless they are his/her responsibility as the primary surgeon.

Bariatric surgeons in practice in the United States where practice expenses are so much greater than overseas usually can't afford to use their limited resources and time to address problems in patients who sought care via medical tourism,' as you outline, often for financial reasons; the same financial barriers you encounter are faced by your local bariatric surgeons(s) who need to generate an income for their practice through performing the bariatric surgical procedures.

If you are expecting local follow-up care after your return, prior to traveling out of the country for your bariatric surgery I would strongly advise that you speak with one or more of your local bariatric surgeons to gauge their willingness to participate in your care upon your return to the United States.

John Rabkin, M.D.
Pacific Laparoscopy

(click here for Dr. Rabkin's full bio & contact info)

DISCLAIMER: This educational advice is based on the depth of your question and the details provided. The above should never replace the advice of your local physicians as they have the ability to evaluate you in person.

Related Pages:
- Weight Loss Surgery in Mexico & Abroad


Patient Responses to the Question Above

Follow up care

by: Tonya H

Leanne, I pretty much thought the same as what Dr Rabkin said, that it's probably going to be difficult finding a local surgeon to perform follow-up care for a surgery he/she had no part in, let alone that the surgery was performed in another country. I'm glad Dr Rabkin outlined the "why's" for you, because I couldn't have properly informed you of any of that, though I most definitely was going to suggest that you speak to doctors locally before your surgery. Best of luck to you on your weight loss journey.

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