Last fact-checked: 8 September 2020
Bariatric surgery is an umbrella term used to describe a number of weight loss procedures that entail making changes to the digestive system. If you are obese, surgery is often seen as the last resort for losing a significant amount of weight when you have been unable to lose the pounds with diet and exercise.
Common procedures include gastric banding (lap-bands), gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy. They work in slightly different ways, normally limiting how much you can eat or reducing the way the body absorbs nutrients, or both.
These are all extensive procedures; even those performed laparoscopically (keyhole surgery) require a significant amount of aftercare. Great consideration is therefore required as to the practicalities of having weight loss surgery abroad, particularly when it comes to finding a clinic in a destination that's right for you.
Bariatric surgery is used to treat patients who are dangerously overweight with potentially life-threatening obesity. There are a number of different types of weight-loss procedures, all of which work in similar ways. By reducing the size of the stomach, smaller amounts of food are required to make you feel full. As a result, you eat less, consuming fewer calories, and ultimately lose weight.
The three most common forms of bariatric surgery are:
Gastric Band (or Lap-Band):
The stomach’s size is reduced using an adjustable band. Through keyhole incisions, a band is wrapped around the upper part of the stomach and stitched. A balloon is enclosed in the band that can be inflated with a saline solution. This process reduces the size of the stomach making you feel full after only a small amount of food.
Also known as Roux-en-Y, the procedure is where the stomach is divided, creating a small pouch at the top, and joined to the small intestine further down. This creates a bypass of the stomach and a significant part of the small intestine, so not only does it take less food to make you feel full, but less food is digested by the small intestine.
Part of the stomach is removed, thereby reducing its size. This procedure is performed using only a few small incisions through which the stomach is cut (using a keyhole technique) and a large part removed, leaving a vertical sleeve. This is then closed with sutures or staples.
You may be suitable for bariatric surgery if you have:
This depends on what procedure you have. Gastric bands are usually performed laparoscopically, typically taking around an hour. A sleeve gastrectomy takes between one and two hours and a gastric bypass between 90 minutes and three hours.
The gastric band procedure is the only surgery that isn’t permanent, and you will usually be discharged within 24 hours. The other procedures are permanent, and will usually require a hospital stay of between two and five days.
Post-surgery instruction may differ, and you will be given a detailed guide from your surgeon as to what you should and shouldn't do. In general, it is worth noting the following:
It may seem like a quite drastic step to have bariatric surgery abroad. However, our verified surgeons and facilities all follow the same international standards as their counterparts in western countries, and we carry out a number of background checks, including:
Following the procedure, you will need to plan to stay in your chosen destination for at least a week, during which time you can rest in and around the comfort of your hotel. You should attend follow-ups as per your surgeon's advice at the clinic or hospital; these will involve tests to see how well your body has responded to the treatment, as well as making sure you are well enough to leave.
Your surgeon will be able to give you the green light as to when you'll be able to leave, as this will depend on how long your journey home is (and how you're doing it, i.e., driving or flying).
Prices vary, depending on where you go, and you will have to take into account that bariatric procedures are major surgery and the feasibilities of flying, both as an overweight person, as well as flying back after surgery should be taken into account.
As a general guide, the average price of bariatric surgery in the United States is around $20,000, compared to in Mexico, where bariatric surgery can cost around 80% less at $3,500.
Get started by looking at these popular destinations for bariatric surgery:
Heading abroad for bariatric surgery at one of our trusted clinics does not involve any more risk than it would back home—yet you can make savings of well over $10,000, making the whole experience worth it.
Medical Departures offers a range of services to make booking your bariatric surgery abroad safe, secure and cost-effective.
To save you time, we’ve put together a list of bariatric clinics and hospitals across the world for you to look through. Destinations include Mexico, Colombia, Turkey, Thailand and Malaysia.
Book directly online or connect with our Customer Care Team who can provide you with a free quote. We also provide additional services, such as assistance with medical insurance, at discounted rates, as well as ensuring that you pay the lowest cost possible for your treatment through our best price guarantee policy.
International Federation for the Surgery of Obesity and Metabolic Disorders (IFSO). Website accessed: 8 September 2020. https://www.ifso.com/about-ifso/
Seeras K; Acho RJ; Prakash S. Laparoscopic Lap Band Placement. 16 June 2020. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526062/
Gastric bypass surgery. Medline Plus. 21 June 2018. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007199.htm
Gastric bypass (Roux-en-Y). Mayo Clinic. 28 December 2017. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/gastric-bypass-surgery/about/pac-20385189