If you are struggling with obesity and have tried various methods to lose weight without success, you may be considering weight loss surgery as a last resort. However, weight loss surgery can be very expensive in the United States, especially if you are uninsured or underinsured. According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, the average cost of a gastric bypass surgery in the US is about $23,000, while a sleeve gastrectomy can cost around $14,900. These prices do not include the pre-operative and post-operative care, which can add up to thousands of dollars more.
Fortunately, there is an alternative option for people who want to undergo weight loss surgery but cannot afford it in the US: medical tourism.
Medical tourism is the practice of traveling to another country to receive medical treatment, usually at a lower cost and with comparable or better quality. Medical tourism has become a popular option for many Americans who seek affordable and high-quality health care abroad. According to some reports in public domain, more than 2 million Americans travel abroad every year for medical care.
One of the most common procedures that Americans seek abroad is weight loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery. There are many countries that offer weight loss surgery at a fraction of the cost in the US, with similar or better outcomes and safety standards.
Some of the top destinations for medical tourism for weight loss surgery include:
- Mexico: Mexico is one of the most popular and accessible destinations for medical tourism for Americans, especially those living near the border. Mexico has many accredited hospitals and clinics that specialize in bariatric surgery, with experienced and qualified surgeons. The average cost of a gastric bypass surgery in Mexico is about USD 8,000, while a sleeve gastrectomy can cost around USD 4,500. These prices include the hospital stay, anesthesia, surgeon fees, and pre-operative and post-operative care. Mexico also offers a variety of tourist attractions, such as beaches, historical sites, and cultural events.
- India: India is another popular destination for medical tourism for weight loss surgery, especially for people who want to combine their treatment with a spiritual or cultural experience. India has many world-class hospitals for bariatric surgery and doctors who are trained and certified in bariatric surgery, with state-of-the-art technology and equipment. The average cost of a gastric bypass surgery in India is about USD 6000, while a sleeve gastrectomy can cost in India is around USD 5000. These prices include the hospital stay, anesthesia, surgeon fees, and pre-operative and post-operative care. India also offers a rich and diverse culture, with many religious sites, festivals, and cuisines.
- Thailand: Thailand is another popular destination for medical tourism for weight loss surgery, especially for people who want to enjoy a tropical vacation after their procedure. Thailand has many internationally accredited hospitals and clinics that offer bariatric surgery, with highly skilled and experienced surgeons. The average cost of a gastric bypass surgery in Thailand is about USD 10,000, while a sleeve gastrectomy can cost around USD 7,000. These prices include the hospital stay, anesthesia, surgeon fees, and pre-operative and post-operative care. Thailand also offers a beautiful and exotic scenery, with many beaches, islands, temples, and wildlife.
If you are interested in traveling abroad for weight loss surgery, there are some steps that you need to take to ensure a safe and successful trip:
- Do your research: Before choosing a destination and a provider for your weight loss surgery abroad, you need to do your homework and compare different options. You should look for reputable sources of information, such as online reviews, testimonials, ratings, accreditations, certifications, awards, and memberships of international organizations. You should also check the credentials and qualifications of the surgeons and the facilities that you are considering. You should also look for any hidden fees or charges that may not be included in the quoted price.
- Consult your doctor: Before traveling abroad for weight loss surgery, you should consult your primary care physician and get their opinion on your suitability for the procedure. You should also inform your doctor about your travel plans and ask them to provide you with your medical records and prescriptions that you may need during or after your trip.
- Plan your trip: After choosing a destination and a provider for your weight loss surgery abroad, you should plan the finer details of your trip carefully. Booking flights, accommodation, visa (if required), insurance (if available), is a part of your travel. It comes handy to know the complete address of the hospital and the hotel, how far is it from the airport, the name and number of the person who will receive you at the airport. You should also prepare yourself mentally and physically for the trip and the procedure. You should follow the pre-operative instructions given by your provider and pack all the necessary items that you may need during or after your trip.
- Follow up: After returning from your weight loss surgery abroad, you should follow up with your provider and your doctor regularly. You should follow the post-operative instructions given by your provider and take the prescribed medications and supplements. You should also monitor your weight, diet, exercise, and any signs of complications or infections. You should also report any problems or concerns that you may have to your provider and your doctor as soon as possible.
Traveling abroad for weight loss surgery can be a life-changing decision that can help you achieve your health and fitness goals. However, it is not a decision that should be taken lightly or without proper preparation. You should weigh the pros and cons of traveling abroad for weight loss surgery and make an informed choice that suits your needs and preferences. You should also consult your doctor and your provider before, during, and after your trip to ensure a safe and successful outcome.