Medical tourism refers to people traveling to a country other than their own to obtain medical treatment. Recently, traveling out of the United States for weight loss surgery has become a topic for discussion. Some patients are willing to take this chance in hopes of lower prices for a procedure to help them lose weight and have a happier life. An article from the American Journal of Medicine estimated that over 1.4 million Americans sought health care outside of US borders in 2017, and that number was expected to rise by 25% in the years to follow.
While some people may believe this weight loss method affordable and effective, there is significant risk involved when a patient chooses to have surgical procedures outside of their own country. There are varying protocols for medical care from one country to the next, making it difficult to know if the practice uses the most up to date and advanced procedures. Another important reason to keep your doctor close to home is aftercare, as excellent aftercare is crucial to the success of Bariatric Surgery.
Bariatric Aftercare and Medical Tourism
After Bariatric Surgery, patients must follow a strict regimen and have the ability to see their surgeon at any time during, and beyond, the recovery period. While problems with bariatric surgery are rare, a situation requiring additional care could arise and being thousands of miles away from the doctor would delay treatment. Also, bariatric patients need diet and nutritional counseling to help them stay on track and keep them healthy. It is important to have immediate access to nutritional guidance and emotional support.
Risks of Medical Tourism
Tourists always need to be on guard when visiting a foreign country, even for a vacation. The saying, “Buyer Beware” is never more applicable than when used in conjunction with Medical Tourism. There are many dangers that some patients don’t think about when considering a medical procedure outside of the United States. Some of them are:
- Knowing the Quality of Care. Very often, word of mouth referrals are the key reason people choose a certain doctor or facility. They might know someone who works for, or had a procedure done, by the surgeon and had a very positive experience. It has been noted that some medical centers outside the United States have lesser standards of care or sanitation, but it is hard to truly know the reputation of a doctor or facility when a “word of mouth” recommendation doesn’t apply. This could potentially be costly for the patient, as complications from surgery can result in paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for corrective procedures. Even worse than cost is the significant physical and emotional toll this would cause.
- Language barrier. Surprisingly, people may not consider the potential communication issues with their weight loss surgeon. If even the smallest detail gets lost in translation, it could cause some very serious problems after surgery.
- Medication. Unfortunately, it is not unheard of to find counterfeit medications during a medical tourism journey. The drugs may be of poor quality, or contain unhealthy – even hazardous – ingredients used as filler. Also, antibiotic resistance is a global problem, and resistant bacteria may be more common in other countries than in the United States.
- Legal. Different countries have different legal procedures. If a patient needs to file suit due to a mishandled surgery, using a foreign weight loss center may make compensation for injuries sustained very difficult to receive.
- Travel, especially by plane. Flying after surgery can increase the risk for blood clots.
Choose Expert Surgical and Stay Close to Home
Expert Surgical is located in Plano Texas, convenient to people in the Dallas/Fort Worth area as well as easily accessible to those in West, East and Central Texas. Dr. Scott Stowers has been performing medical services in Texas for more than twenty years and is board certified. His stellar credentials include being a Fellow of the American Society for Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery. He uses the most advanced, minimally invasive procedures to ensure his patients recover fast and endure less risk during the surgery and healing processes. The majority of his patients are referrals from prior bariatric patients, a testament to his knowledge and skill as a surgeon. If you are considering Bariatric Surgery, do not hesitate to contact us for more information. We have financing options and offer assistance in navigating the insurance processes.