Do Not Choose The Cheapest Doctor In Tijuana For Your Weight Loss Surgery

For many major purchases, it’s worthwhile to shop around for the lowest price, even if you have to travel a bit to close the deal. There is one major purchase that you don’t want to try that with, though: bariatric surgery. Larissa learned that lesson the painful and horrific way. Her surgery has gone wrong, and now she needs to find a doctor in the US to repair the cut-rate duodenal switch she paid the worst surgeon in Tijuana $12,500 for.

Larissa has been told that she will eventually die without another surgery–and she’s far from the only American who has ventured to Mexico to save money on surgery. She told her story to a Texas television station.

“In the United States the lowest quote I got was $24,000.00 for the surgery and in Mexico,” [she] said. “I was getting quotes of $12,000.00 to $14,000.00 and I ended up paying $12,500.00.”

But it was no bargain–since the April surgery she’s been to the emergency room three times.

Larissa said she’s been told she needs surgery or she’ll slowly die.

“I don’t have any more money, I don’t have insurance and [surgeons here] don’t want to take on somebody else’s mistakes.”

Larissa herself was the person who sent this story in, and I asked her if there was anything she’d like to add that didn’t make it into the news segment. She writes:

The lesson that I want people to take away is this – you have to have money
set aside for possible complications as well as the initial surgery. And if
you have enough money for that – than why not get a competent US doctor
(with US protections) in the first place? I feel like a complete fool. I
gambled, and lost.

 

Medical Tourism: Dangers of Medical Procedures Abroad
[The 33]

Comments

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  1. coffeeculture says:

    i wouldn’t get a hooker in mexico…much less complex bariatric surgery

  2. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    Don’t have surgery with anyone who was in the graduating class of the Hollywood Upstairs Medical School with Dr. Nick Riveria.

  3. Julia789 says:

    Tijuana is infamous for shoddy and dangerous surgeries, especially badly done plastic surgery and scams run on cancer patients promising miracle cures. Now Tijuana clinics are also doing scam/fake stem cell treatment.

    Always do surgery in the U.S. where you have legal recourse if they botch the surgery. If you want to travel for a cheaper price, do it in the U.S. such as traveling from NYC or LA to a good hospital in the midwest or south where procedures may be half the price. That way you still have competent licensed M.D.s and legal recourse if something goes horribly wrong.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      It’s like what Chris Walters wrote about awhile back: http://consumerist.com/2009/09/get-on-a-plane-go-to-your-surgery.html

      • El_Red says:

        On the other hand, Cuba has a very good reputation for surgeries. However I don’t think they do anything cosmetic. And USA citizens are officially prohibited from travelling there…

        • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

          No we aren’t. There is an embargo, but IIRC, there is a airline that flies to Cuba out of Florida.

          • pz says:

            No, he’s right — there is an _official_ ban on travel to Cuba, but it’s not enforced at all.

            • mattarse says:

              That’s incorrect – it is enforced by the US however there are easy ways around it where the US would have a very difficult time proving you had been to Cuba.

          • humphrmi says:

            There are airlines that fly out of Miami, New York, and Los Angeles to Cuba. The flights are all charter, and those are the only cities that are allowed to serve Cuban destinations. Tampa has asked for permission to serve Cuba, but hasn’t received it yet. In order to get on one of the charter flights, you pretty much have to be a Cuban-American.

            On the other hand, you can fly to almost any other country that has a diplomatic relationship with Cuba – and almost every country in the world does – and then fly on to Cuba from there. The only problem is that if you return home with a Cuban stamp in your passport, you may get into trouble trying to re-enter the U.S. I’ve heard (from Cuban-American friends) that if you ask the Cuban immigration officer nicely, they will insert a tissue-paper page into your passport with the Cuban entry stamp on it, and then you can tear it out once you leave Cuba.

            So Cuba isn’t really that hard to get to, if you put your mind to it. But it’s not like hopping on a 737 and going.

            • AI says:

              Cuba doesn’t stamp your passport. You don’t even have to ask. They mostly concern themselves with stamping the temporary visa card.

        • Julia789 says:

          But would one have legal recourse if a surgery in Cuba was terribly botched? I think it is safer to stay in the states.

          I once worked with an older lady who had a facelift, and the surgeon (who had a good reputation) accidentally severed a major nerve in her face. Now one side of her face and neck are completely paralized, and droop down like a severe stroke victim.

          She sued and the money she won went toward “reconstructive surgery” to try and even her face by lifting the drooping side to try and match the side that was not paralyzed, toward physical therapy to try and be able to blink her eye, and speech therapy to talk normally with the side of her mouth that hung open.

          If she had the procedure outside the U.S. I am not sure how she would have been able to sue for all the treatments she needed to recover.

      • Julia789 says:

        Right – from the article you linked:

        “Unlike foreign medical tourism, patients don’t leave the country. Instead, they travel to another city within the United States to have procedures for up to 75% less than they would pay if they were treated closer to home.

        One of the primary reasons some U.S. medical facilities are willing to be paid less is that they are generally compensated upfront, before the procedures are conducted, which enables them to avoid the arduous task of seeking reimbursement afterward from insurers and third-party administrators. The facilities also receive a single package price that is negotiated beforehand.”

    • Bohemian says:

      Yes and no. The cost of medical care in South Dakota is higher than either coast. You might get a cheaper rate in somewhere like Minnesota where they have laws requiring hospitals to give the uninsured a rate similar to the ones they agree to with insurance companies.

      Most hospitals will negotiate down to that insured level rate if someone is paying cash for the entire bill like this woman did. The really sad thing is that she probably could have gotten a discounted rate at a US hospital if she shopped around. We have one hospital where I live that will usually cut 50% off of someone’s bill if they can show financial limitations.

      • Julia789 says:

        Also when people call for a “quote” they are often quoted the high standard price and don’t bother trying to negotiate. Asking to speak to someone higher up in administration and making it clear you will pay all cash up front can make a huge difference in the quoted price.

    • DangerMouth says:

      Thailand. World class hospitals at a fraction of the cost.

      • Julia789 says:

        I have heard this, and I have also heard Singapore. But my concern would still be, if one could seek legal recourse from home if something went wrong?

        • Billy says:

          Wouldn’t the recourse be the same as if she were a citizen of that country? Don’t they have lawyers in other countries?

          I’m not saying that it wouldn’t be difficult, but I find it hard to believe that there is NO recourse for botched surgeries on other countries (although, it probably depends on the country).

          • Julia789 says:

            Might have to be a citizen of that country to legally file a civil lawsuit. Or they may have laws that prevent doctors from being sued in civil court. Might require that you be there in person for the entire trial to testify and be present. I suppose if someone was to go out of the country for surgery, it would be wise for them to consult an attorney specializing in the laws of that country prior to making their decision.

            • Billy says:

              “Might have to be a citizen of that country to legally file a civil lawsuit.”

              I find that hard to believe. What country doesn’t allow citizens from other countries to file a civil lawsuit?

              “Or they may have laws that prevent doctors from being sued in civil court.”

              I find that hard to believe. What country doesn’t allow doctors to be sued in civil court.

              “Might require that you be there in person for the entire trial to testify and be present.”

              Of course. But that’s a requirement in any country if you want to present a good case.

            • Billy says:

              “Might have to be a citizen of that country to legally file a civil lawsuit.”

              I find that hard to believe. What country doesn’t allow citizens from other countries to file a civil lawsuit?

              “Or they may have laws that prevent doctors from being sued in civil court.”

              I find that hard to believe. What country doesn’t allow doctors to be sued in civil court.

              “Might require that you be there in person for the entire trial to testify and be present.”

              Of course. But that’s a requirement in any country if you want to present a good case.

          • sonneillon says:

            It is a matter of scale. Yeah you might be able to get some recourse, but the award you get is likely going to be in proportion to the wages out there. A botched surgery where you might be able to sue for 250,000 is likely to only earn you 50,000, because that is what they consider several years worth of pay. Perhaps even less depending on laws.

      • Chaosium says:

        “Thailand. World class hospitals at a fraction of the cost.”

        People say the same about Mexico.

    • Geekybiker says:

      There are places out of the country that are cheaper than the US, but still have good standards. For example, I was looking into LASIK and found Canada much cheaper than the US *and* had more advanced equipment. I wouldn’t hesitate to goto Canada

  4. rpm773 says:

    Chargeback?

  5. slim150 says:

    I can solve your problem.. go back down there.. and find someone to take out one of your kidneys to sell on the black market. Then you can get your money…genius.

  6. rpm773 says:

    For some reason, to me “bariatric” sounds like a portmanteau word made up of “barbaric” and “butchery”.

  7. backinpgh says:

    I saw a couple talk shows years back about botched plastic surgeries in Mexico…it was horrifying. These people’s bodies were falling apart. And unlike in the US, if you go to Mexico and someone screws up your procedure, you won’t really have any rights or recourse against the person, or the ability to protect others from the same fate.

    • Julia789 says:

      I saw a website of a doctor in California that specializes in fixing bad Tijuana plastic surgery.

      It’s like, his entire practice and has apparently made him a fortune. They had photos of hideous breast implants from many different Tijuana surgeons that this surgeon repairs, and it costs a lot more to fix than it would have to do it right the first time.

      • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

        I’d be curious to see that site, just for lol’s sake.

        • Julia789 says:

          I will have to try and look it up from home, later. I’m not sure I want to google those keywords from the office ;-)

          The surgeon was in southern California, Palm Springs area I think? I recall it was in close proximity to Mexico, as people from that area would drive to Mexico for cheap surgery, come home horrified, and hire the local guy to fix it. He specialized in “breast implant revision surgery” and had all these photo examples of Tijuana boob jobs he fixed.

          I came across it last time Consumerist had that article on the woman who ended up with “four boobs” (double-bubble syndrome) and I was Googling trying to find out what it was, and came across the “Tijuana repairman” I mention.

          I was quite fascinated with it! There are like 857 different conditions that can go wrong when one has a boob job, apparently. Who knew? Some looked like muffins that had baked over the edge of a pan.

          Two of the cases the Tijuana doctors put the boob implants so close together, it looked like they had one giant boob with a nipple on each side. Like a breast-cyclops.

          The surgeon showed the “after repair” photos which required a lot of complex surgery and the girls had to wear some kind of harness for weeks to keep them from sliding back together after he stiched them over to the sides properly. It was very interesting, how he fixed them.

        • Julia789 says:

          I FOUND IT!

          http://www.poustiplasticsurgery.com/case-of-the-week/category/breast-revision-surgery/

          Here are photos and brief stories of the breast revision operations, including a few from Mexico. These are only a few of the revisions, but I think they are great work. He explains all the issues and how he solved the problems.

          If I ever got a boob job, and something went wrong, I’d want to go to this miracle worker LOL.

          • Verdant Pine Trees says:

            Oh my God. Thank you for sharing that. I work with a lovely woman who has a very conventionally attractive, svelte shape, but is nevertheless worried about her age and talking about getting plastic surgery done (a tummy tuck). I don’t think she remembers that it *is* nonetheless surgery.

            I would never have a boob job unless the worst happened (i.e. losing a breast to cancer). I am a DD, but also have the kind of body that can tolerate a DD’s weight. I can’t for the life of me understand why women who are naturally slim would do that to their bodies, i.e. carrying DDs on A or B size frames. If ya must do it on an A frame, get B cups for Gods’ sakes!

  8. Julia789 says:

    “I don’t have any more money, I don’t have insurance and [surgeons here] don’t want to take on somebody else’s mistakes.”

    I was just thinking about this quote, and actually I don’t think it matters that she doesn’t have health insurance. I don’t think health insurance would cover the cost of surgery to repair botched elective surgery.

    For example, if you get elective surgery that insurance doesn’t cover such as plastic surgery, and you get an infection from the surgery or complication that requires hospitalization or surgery, your health insurance will not cover that because it was a result of something they don’t cover.

    Maybe it depends on the particular insurance plan, but I’m pretty sure most don’t. I have heard a lot of horror stories of people who got tummy tucks or breast surgery that got horrible infections or bleeding complications, and ended up $50,000 or $100,000 in debt from hospitalization afterward that their insurance didn’t cover because it was by their own choice they got elective surgery not covered by insurance.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Is there a point in which a weight loss surgery is no longer elective, like if it is just physically impossible for morbidly obese people to exercise in order to lose the amount of weight they need to live past 60? If there is no alternative, does the elective surgery become medically necessary, and therefore covered by insurance?

      • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

        It is generally considered medically necessary if you have comorbities such as sleep apnea, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes. Most insurance companies aren’t considering it elective anymore.

      • Julia789 says:

        Yes I believe there is a point when it is not elective, when the weight causes other severe health problems that could kill the person. It still may depend on the insurance plan’s policies, though. The insurance plan’s consulting doctor might argue that the other health problems could be solved with medication or diet change, and fight the procedure.

        A lot of insurance companies will only cover it with certain restrictions:

        I knew a guy who wanted bariatric weight loss surgery. His insurance said they would cover it only after he’d participated in doctor supervised weight loss and excersize plan for a minimum of one year, and failed. So he signed up for Weight Watchers under his doctor’s observation and checkups, and met with a physical therapist to devise an exercise plan that worked for his large size and shortness of breath. He took up swimming daily and water aerobics, which didn’t hurt his knees and kept him from overheating and giving up. By the time the year was up, he’d lost 90 pounds, and no longer needed or wanted the surgery. It has been 4 years and he has kept the weight off and still swims daily at the health club. He’s now thankful the insurance company made him do that first.

        • Dallas_shopper says:

          Good for them, and good for him! 90 lbs is awesome. He should be proud. I say this as someone who lost 48% of their body weight (about 120-125 lbs depending on the time of the month). It took a year to lose the first 100 and the rest of it came off very slowly.

          Everyone who wants bariatric surgery paid for by their insurance company should first be required to do a year of doctor-supervised diet and exericise. It’s amazing how effective it can be if you really give it an honest chance.

          • Julia789 says:

            That is great you were able to do that – Congrats!

          • ElizabethD says:

            Just saying that I did 6 months of physician-supervised diet/exercise and lost 60 pounds. But when I was on my own, the weight slowly (over two-three years) came back on, and then some.

            Repeat numerous times. And I’m not the only yo-yo in the drawer by any means.

            • Beeker26 says:

              But what people don’t understand is that bariatric surgery is NOT a magic bullet. If you don’t alter your lifestyle and eating habits you can still put on all the weight you’ve lost. And it happens a lot, so much so that insurance companies are getting more and more strict with their prerequisites for the surgery.

              My father had the surgery many years ago and lost a lot of weight. And over the last few years he’s slowly getting fatter and fatter again.

              • Julia789 says:

                I have read that many people who get bariatric surgery put the weight back on, over a period of just a few years. Who is that singer, Carnie Wilson? Lost 100-200lbs with bariatric surgery, and she put it back on in 5-10 years? They slowly stretch their stomach back out over the years to where it is the same again?

                • supergeorgina says:

                  I don’t think Carnie regained ALL her weight. If she kept off at least 50% of her excess weight she’d be considered a success in the bariatric community anyway.

                  BTW, the surgery this woman had has a much higher success rate than the traditional gastric bypass you’re thinking about. Much much better statistics for keeping the weight off. Regain is not unheard of, but it’s certainly not common with the duodenal switch. It’s the “big gun” of bariatric surgery.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      Except that many do cover bariatric surgery now as it helps them control costs in the long run if they have fewer obease patients. Over the long term, people who have bariatric surgery, especially Lapband keep the weight off better than those who try other methods.

      Even though I paid for my lap band out of pocket b/c at the time my insurance did not cover it (it does now), they would cover complications b/c they are medically necessary and I have fallen out the the pre-existing condition period.

      • Julia789 says:

        Yes many do cover that sugery now, but the woman in the article had health insurance when she first tried to get the surgery, and they would not cover it. (Also she wanted the other surgery, not lap-band, who knows if they would have covered that but not the more drastic one she wanted?) Then at some point before she went to Mexico for the surgery, she lost the health insurance.

        My statement (or perhaps question?) is that her health insurance probably would not have covered the complication of going to Mexico for surgery even if she still had health insurance. I may be wrong, or it may depend on the insurance plan’s rules.

        It is good to know your plan covered complications in the event of emergency. There is always a chance ever safer surgery like lap-band (MUCH safer when compared to the intestinal bypass or stomach stapling) will have complications or infection, and it’s so important to know what your plan will be if something goes wrong – if you will be covered or if it will bankrupt you!

      • Dondegroovily says:

        Insurance companies probably wouldn’t cover the surgery in Mexico. They’d probably require US doctors and hospitals.

    • AnonymousCoward says:

      It would have mattered if she’d had health insurance in the first place. The insurance would have covered the bariatric surgery (assuming she could get them to approve it, which is another matter), and she could have had it done by a competent Dr in the US).

      • Julia789 says:

        The lady in the article stated that she did have health insurance and it refused to cover the bariatric surgery, which is why she went to get it cheaply out of the country. She then lost her job shortly before the surgery, it says, and when she returned with botched surgery had no health insurance to pay for the emergency repairs she needs done.

        My questions was whether or not health insurance would pay for emergency repairs to a botched surgery that was unapproved by the health insurance company in the first place. I was thinking it would not, since people who, for instance, have plastic surgery and get an infection, have to pay for the costs of treating the infection themselves, even if they have health insurance. Because it was not a procedure approved by the health insurance company, they tend to say “You broke it, you bought it.”

  9. Putts says:

    I can understand going to Mexico for a surgery if you have some sort of terminal condition and there’s simply no way you can afford the procedure in the U.S., but going there and risking your life for an elective procedure? Really?

  10. nbs2 says:

    My gut reaction was to blame the OP – after all, she chose to have the surgery and chose the doctor and chose to go with the lowest price. IF she doesn’t have money or insurance, I suspect that’s the reason they don’t want to fix someone else’s mistakes. But, really though, there are some scary things this points out.

    How many folks are choosing to go overseas for treatments? How many of those are going because they can’t afford to get treated in the US (as opposed to seeking treatments that are simply not FDA approved)? I suspect that the answers are going to be “A lot” and “Most of them.” While bariatric is, from my understanding, more cosmetic than life-saving, there comes a point where the single major cost would be better use of funds than a continuing lifetime of weight related complications, including depression (which makes weight loss all the more difficult). I know that fatties need to just buck up and decide to lose weight, but I’ve met more than a few that feel backed into a corner and are just too lost to do it.

    Also, how are treatments performed overseas handled by insurance companies? When a Canadian comes to the US, do they create their own high-risk activity? When an American goes to Canada, is the insurance (if any) carrier going to deny corrections, treating that treatment in the same way that many will treat scuba diving or base jumping? What if the American happens to be traveling and simply needs emergency treatment – is that treated the same as choosing to go overseas?

    I’m kind of freaked out.

    • Eels says:

      Bariatric surgery, though it has cosmetic results, is a lifesaving procedure. Please, please, never again talk about something you clearly don’t understand, because you look like an ignorant insensitive ass when you do.

      • cheezrox says:

        I can’t say that statement makes you look much better, Eels. This is clearly someone who is trying to understand the issue, not someone who is attempting to ostracize obese people. Calm down.

        • Eels says:

          Really? “Fatties need to just buck up” is not indicative of a negative attitude towards the obese? My most sincere apologies then.

          • Marshmelly says:

            “I know that fatties need to just buck up and decide to lose weight, but I’ve met more than a few that feel backed into a corner and are just too lost to do it.”

            Context…its a wonderful thing. I took it as a sarcastic statement criticizing the fact that so many people refer to obese people that way….not to mention he/she was obviously being sensitive of what they have to go through (if you actually read the rest of the sentence/comment)

      • Marshmelly says:

        well that was kind of uncalled for. He said “from my understanding”…obviously he wasn’t 100% sure about it (I actually thought it was mostly a cosmetic procedure as well), and he made it clear that he knew about the need for people to have the surgery on non-cosmetic grounds. Please don’t just jump down people’s throats and call them an “ignorant insensitive ass” when their comment is obviously respectfully worded and with good intentions. There are ways to inform people of accurate info without being rude about it.

      • bandit says:

        Uh oh, a fat apologizer. Nuke it from orbit.

        • Javin says:

          Just try not to get caught up in its gravitational pull.

          And as a side note, I’m a fatty (262 lbs several months ago, down to 245). Fact is, bariatric surgery IS primarily cosmetic. Most people do NOT have a “life threatening” issue that they couldn’t fix without diet and exercise. It’s a lazy man’s out in the vast majority of the cases. Don’t give me this bullshit about “food addiction” either. You don’t fix someone’s coke addiction by stapling their nose shut.

      • DoktorGoku says:

        Hey, congratulations! You didn’t get internet sarcasm, and now look worse than the person you’re yelling at! Good internet arguing there!

    • Julia789 says:

      If you travel overseas it is good to purchase travel health insurance. Often not very expensive and could be very handy. I believe in case of emergency, accident, or serious illness treated overseas in a hospital, the US insurance company would treat you when you arrive back home even if complications were result of bad surgery. They understand emergenies happen when traveling. But may or may not pay for your surgery that happened while overseas, depending on your policy. So again, health insurance for travel is a good idea to purchase through your travel agent or insurance agent.

  11. pandroid says:

    Going to the dentist in Mexico, on the other hand, is totally worth the money saved.

    • AnonymousCoward says:

      Just like choosing a Mexican surgeon and hospital, you need to choose carefully. There *are* good dentists in Mexico (as well as good doctors, I suppose, but I don’t know anyone who’s tried that), and the prices are about 1/3 of what they are here. But you can’t just shop by price….

  12. kylere1 says:

    Eating less and exercising more is how a good consumerist loses weight

    • ElizabethD says:

      Oh no you didn’t!

    • Riroon13 says:

      High-metabolism fat discrimination internet troll is awake early I see.

      • DoktorGoku says:

        Either:

        1. The person actually believes what they’re saying, so they’re not trolling, meaning you’re name-calling, or

        2. The person actually is trolling, trying to get a rise out of people, which you just gave them.

        With both of those options, you’ve done something you shouldn’t have.

  13. suez says:

    I had stomach reduction surgery (not quite as drastic as hers) and my insurance initially approved it, but then renegged AFTERWARD, leaving me with massive medicals bills that now have me tetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Lesson learned? No matter what the insurance company says, they’ll find a loophole if they can so be prepared.

    On the other hand, my surgery was done by one of the best in the US (in northern VA) and I’ve had no complications. Plus, I lost over 100 lbs, reached my goal weight, and reversed my pre-diabetic condition. Was it worth it? Yes in the long run, but it’s been hell on my stress and budget.

    • LuckyLady says:

      What were the circumstances of the insurance company’s reversal of approval to pay for the procedure?

      • suez says:

        They approve my surgery with one surgeon, but at the last moment, because of possible complications found in the pre-surgery testing, my surgeon decided to have the senior of their practice do the surgery instead because he was more qualified if the complication arose mid-surgery. I met him a week before and felt I was in good hands, but was not informed that he personally didn’t participate in my plan, while my original surgeon did. Fortunately, no complications arose and things went perfectly. Six months later I started receiving the bills. I went through two rounds of arbitration, including supplying a letter from my initial surgeon explaining his medical reasons for the switch and the fact he was going to be out of town for a month after the date of my surgery and he felt this would be bad if there were complications. The insurance company didn’t even read the letter the first time but rejected the claim out of hand. The second round, they requested proof that the second surgeon was the only qualified doc within 30 miles who could do the procedure–which we supplied. In their “wisdom” they decided to reject it as well. You only get two shots at arbitration, and that was it. REJECTED.

        • suez says:

          By the way, this was United Healthcare. Feel free to spread the word.

          I forgot to mention that this…

          UHC: “You met the surgeon, so you must have known he wasn’t in the plan.”
          Me: “Of course I met him–he was going to cut me open! But he never mentioned he was not in my plan. That wasn’t what we discussed.”
          UHC: “But you met him. So you knew.”
          Me: “No, I didn’t.”
          Original surgeon: “She didn’t know.”
          UHC: “Sorry. The answer is still no.”

          • AllanG54 says:

            As crappy as it sounds she should have asked. My wife went through this when she had her hysterectomy. Her original surgeon ripped the nail off her finger playing with her son and her partner had to do the surgery. Doc #2 wasn’t in our plan so they just billed it under doc #1 and the insurance company never knew.

        • Julia789 says:

          This happened to my brother who had jaw surgery. His original surgeon broke bones in a skiing accident, so he had a different surgeon. The insurance company did a “take-back” even though the new surgeon was on their plan, said he should have started the whole “pre-approval for special surgery” process ALL OVER if changing surgeons. He hired an attorney to help him fight the insurance company, but lost. He had to pay $18,000.

    • TheFinalBoomer says:

      Sounds like a job for Consumerist, write it up.

    • Chmeeee says:

      How can this even be legal? I think this qualifies for it’s own Consumerist post.

  14. qbubbles says:

    Wait wait wait…

    Does she not have insurance because she’s too big? So she got the bariatric surgery in order to get insurance? Which she still doenst have because now she’s a walking cash leak? Or did she waste cash on a procedure that she didnt need? Did she lose her job? Is her job so crappy that it doesnt offer insurance?

    So many questions…

    • Julia789 says:

      She had insurance, it wouldn’t cover the surgery, so she found a Mexico surgeon to do it cheap. THEN she lost her job just before the surgery. Then she had the surgery, and came back to the US with botched surgery and no way to fix it, because no job and no insurance.

  15. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    She could have had Lapband surgery in the US for less than she got the crap surgery in Mexico with few chances of complications and faster recovery time. If you keep your fills up, you will lose the weight.

    • suez says:

      Lap band is the least effective of all the bariatric surgeries available, in part because you can defeat it easily by just eating ice cream or snacking throughtout the day. In other words, it requires the most exercise in will power to change your eating habits–which, let’s face it, is the reason they’re in this situation in the first place. It may be the least invasive, but it also can have more complications (slippage of the band, mechanical failure, regular appointments for adjustments, etc.). Finally, it’s the SLOWEST method for weightloss because you have to wait weeks or months after the surgery to heal before you can even start to have it constricted, whereas the other surgeries are instant because they either reduce the stomach size via removal or change adsorbtion rate in the intestines.

      • Dalsnsetters says:

        Lap band is the least invasive and surgically safest procedure to perform. I work in a doctor’s office and we do consults and evaluations for the lap band/roux en Y procedures. In 9 years of evaluations, I do not know of a single person who has died from the lap band. I can think of at least 10 (from 8 different surgeons) who died from the roux en y (gastric bypass). There are only certain patient circumstances that a surgeon (these days) will perform the gastric bypass under….

        And there is absolutely NO weight loss surgery that is 100% effective. They *all* start with the same basic requirement: the patient has to be willing to change their attitude towards, and relationship with, food. Massive behavior modification is needed, regardless. These surgeries are not meant to be a cure, but merely a tool, in the quest to lose weight.

        • suez says:

          All surgery comes with danger, so why undergo one that’s got a 50/50 chance of working vs. one that’s got a higher percentage of success? Personally I like to hedge my bets whenever possible.

        • supergeorgina says:

          In the lap-band’s case, “less invasive” = less effective as well. Their “success” rates are paltry compared to other procedures. And let’s not even get into the complications that can arise from a plastic foreign object in your body. Did you know that 25% of lap-bands have to be removed in a second surgery because of “adverse events”?

          • BrienBear Thinks Stupidity Defies Logic says:

            That is very very true.

            I’ve had lap-band for 3 years now, selfpaid, by one of the top doctors in the lapband industry (Dr Terry Simpson). I’ve lost a grand total of 60 pounds in close to 4 years. (4 years in August of this year). And i’ve yo-yo’ed heavily.

            NOW – part of that is due to my OWN personal issues and I completely take that responsibility. Part of it is just that the surgery doesn’t work quite the way they thought when I first had it. (it wasn’t until the last year they understood just how it works… I know, I have the newsletters and various message board postings to prove it…) I do know, for a fact, that the roux-en-Y has the top results, but it also has the highest risks…

            I’m contemplating converting mine (through out-of-pocket expenses, not insurance). Havent fully decided yet, however.

            Most of the people that I know that have had it, they’re in the same boat as me. My BEST best friend (bff) had it as well a year later than me and she also hasn’t had a huge success. But we count any success we can get. Weight is a bitch, man. We know we did this to ourselves but that doesn’t make it any easier. And theres a great deal of shame. But it is what it is!

            So in other words, your milage may vary. Just sayin!

            • supergeorgina says:

              You should really look into the duodenal switch. I know it’s weird to recommend it in light of this article, but when done by a skilled surgeon it’s wonderful. Peer-reviewed studies have proven it MORE effective than the RNY in most ways–total weight lost, total weight kept off, and diabetes resolution. Here’s a great website with more info: http://www.dsfacts.com/

        • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

          I have one and do not sip milkshakes or eat ice cream all day. If someone does that, then they raren’t serious about losing weight and should have skipped the surgery.

          After 5 year I have lost 1/2 of my weight and kept it off. I can’t say the same for anyone I know who had the sleeve or bypass. They lose the weight quickly, then stretch their stomach back out and gain a lot of the weight back. I may not have lost all of my wieight, but my health is much better, I look decent and feel WAY better and I have kept my weight off. I also have not had any issues with it.

      • Julia789 says:

        Well I knew a lady some 20 years ago who had her jaws wired shut with dental braces to lose weight (as was the fad at the time) to force herself to go on a liquid diet. She GAINED 50 pounds. She sipped milkshakes all day.

        I would imagine the same thing would happen for lap band, stomach stapling, and other weight loss procedures? If you drink creamy sugary milkshakes, ice cream, or drink soda all day the weight is still going to come back on, yes?

        That is why I think nutritional counseling is such an important part of pre and post surgery – or for anyone who needs to lose weight.

  16. myrna_minkoff says:

    People go to Costa Rica, Israel, Hungary and many other countries (including Mexico) all the time for medical procedures with no problem. Where she went wrong is having chosen a crappy doctor, not choosing a doctor in Mexico.

    • Julia789 says:

      I’m still not clear if the surgery was truly botched, or if she is simply having a complication that all of these surgeries carry a risk of?

      What part of the surgery was “botched” I would like to know? Were the wrong parts connected, were improper methods used? Or is this a problem of a long-term infection that won’t go away, or her body rejecting the procedures?

      • Chaosium says:

        “she is simply having a complication that all of these surgeries carry a risk of? “

        That’s a good question, in US hospitals there are these complications as well.

  17. leprechaunshawn says:

    Really! This is what it’s come to now? We have to warn people not to go to Tijuana for surgery?

    I cannot believe someone could be so stupid as to actually go to Tijuana for surgery. I was uncomfortable just drinking a margarita there.

  18. sufreak says:

    I realize its life threatening situation, but how would everyone respond if the letter was about trying to save money on a fridge, and bought in Mexico instead of the USA, to find it was just a metal box with a fan inside.

    Not trying to be cold here..but I have a hard time being sympathetic. I’m not a skinny guy and I know weight loss isn’t easy. But something has to sound better than “unemployed, get a loan, get a surgery in Mexico.”

    • ElizabethD says:

      I dispute your analogy. Buying a defective refrigerator is in no way similar in consequences to having botched surgery that becomes life-threatening. Try again.

      • sufreak says:

        I realize its not the same. That’s why I said “I realize its life threatening situation…”

        This person decided to, after being unemployed, get a loan, find the cheapest option when quality counts on a product. If this was anything else, there would be no sympathy.

        I feel bad for the OP, and I hope she finds a way to get her needed life saving surgery.

        • Verdant Pine Trees says:

          No, I think she had a job with insurance, the insurance just wouldn’t cover it. Then she lost her job after the surgery and its complications.

  19. Kitamura says:

    You know what, my local paper ran an article about this a few months back. Canada’s seeing the exact same problem. People go down for a “weekend” gastric bypass surgery in Mexico (not realizing that just because they don’t slice you open it isn’t “major” surgery) because they can’t get approved here in Canada for it (it’s a multi month process reserved for people who are extremely obese because it requires a complete lifestyle change that’s practically on the same level as what you see for gender reassignment surgery). They come back and find out that their $12k surgery went horribly wrong and then our health care system basically has to pick up the tab to try and fix it.

    • suez says:

      I had to wait 6 months and show a record of consultation with my doctor, etc. There’s a reason for this, and I happen to agree with it. You have to make a mental commitment to making the surgery work for you. It’s not a quick fix like some people think. You still have to change how you eat and live, otherwise it won’t work. It’s a mental commitment and shouldn’t be taken lightly. I’ve heard stories of folks having the work done and then ended up back in the hospital within days because they tried eating the wrong things or otherwise not followed directions. And way too many people simply don’t do their homework. Add to that how many doctors don’t do their own research, provide proper directions and advice, and see the lap band as a quick fix.

  20. Commissioner says:

    No one’s asking the important question:

    How much weight did she lose?

    • Not Given says:

      Not important. Fat and living is always better than skinny and dead, no matter what the war on fat people says.

  21. ElizabethD says:

    Yes, she was foolish. But I feel so very bad for her. Hope a kind soul will help her out either with money towards the repairs or an offer of gratis surgery. Then, she should continue to publicize the dangers of cheap surgery in Mexico so that others will beware.

  22. unchainedmuse says:

    I had bariatric surgery last September. I have Blue Cross and was VERY picky about my surgeon. I was in the hospital for 4 days and felt I got good care. I wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything. By the way, i’ve lost 130 lbs and feel terrific.

    I have a friend who had bariatric surgery in Mexico. I guess she was one of the lucky ones. She didn’t have any problems.

    I assert that for bariatric surgery, follow up is important. That’s why it’s absolutely imperative to get it done by a local surgeon with a good reputation.

  23. MrBobo says:

    She might have went with knocking off one pound a week via diet an exercise… 50 lbs a year and a lot more peaceful.

    • ElizabethD says:

      Really? I bet that never occurred to her.

      /sarcasm

      People who undertake bariatric surgery for weight loss have usually tried and failed to lose significant amounts of weight and keep the weight off for many, many years. ALL specialists (medical) in weight loss agree that it is indeed much, much harder for some people to lose weight and maintain the loss than it is for others, for a variety of genetic, psychological, and environmental reasons.

      • suez says:

        Not to mention that at some point it almost becomes physically impossible because their health is so compromised that exercise is painful and/or dangerous.

      • Verdant Pine Trees says:

        Maybe, I agree with you that, that type of patient really is in need of something dramatic like surgery.

        But I think we all know people, especially in the US, who push for a quick fix or are in denial about the serious implications of medical procedures, though I’m not suggesting this of the OP. I.e. people who want to take antibiotics for a cold, women who schedule elective c-sections… They could also be getting bad advice… the hospital next door to my day job promotes bariatric procedures, as do many billboards. How often do they promote better nutrition or weight loss support groups?

        BTW, my husband’s immediate comment, when I shared the story with him, is whether she might have used the money more effectively with a personal trainer and a cook.

        • Fidget says:

          Not sure if you’ll check back, but I wanted to add that the “elective c-section supermom” is largely a mythical beast. We have a ridiculous rate of c-section because America has a shitty history of trusting women with their own bodies, particularly when fetuses are involved. And then the people who bully women into having unnecessary c-sections (including one case in the 90s where a judge awarded the hospital guardianship of the fetus…she left the hospital and delivered vaginally with no complications after the ruling) manufacture this image of an American “feminist” mom-on-the-go who schedules her c-section for the fuck of it as the *real* reason for the skyrocketing rates.

    • MrBobo says:

      fair enough…

  24. ElizabethD says:

    BTW, a friend who had bariatric surgery 5 years ago and has very successfully lost and kept off 150 pounds since then tells me that Brazil is the place to go for plastic surgery on the cheap. Unlike Mexico, the surgeons are generally highly qualified and the results worth the trip; the savings are huge. (She needs to have extra skin tucked etc. since she no longer fills it out.) This woman is a scientist and has researched her options meticulously. Disclaimer: I am not a doctor nor have I had bariatric surgery.

  25. DanRydell says:

    Oh wow… I feel so bad for her, and I hope this mistake doesn’t cost her her life. :(

  26. Eels says:

    The duodenal switch procedure promises post surgery weight loss that is more rapid than typical bariatric surgeries. I am inclined to believe that insurance denied her claim because the surgery she wanted is high risk, and fairly uncommon. Did she look into roux-en-y or gastric banding?

    Bariatric surgery is more than just a medical procedure. It is a lifestyle change, and most centers require candidates to go through a rigorous screening process which involves therapy, losing weight before the procedure, screening for sleep apnea, and meeting with a nutritionist. Patients who do not comply do not get the surgery.

  27. Big Ant says:

    “and [surgeons here] don’t want to take on somebody else’s mistakes.”

    Of course, why would they want to make themselves liable to a surgery done by some quack doctor that they may not be able to fix, and then may be open to a lawsuit because of it.

    I feel bad for her but if I was a doctor I would stay far away from her as this is a suit waiting to happen. You get what you paid for.

  28. Riroon13 says:

    First, to the trolls:

    I hate all these people who are on this eat less/ do more trick, like fat people have a switch they can hit. Some do, some don’t.

    My wife is one of those that no matter what she tries, she cannot shed a pound. I’ve seen her frustration and secretly monitored her meals/activity myself. It’s just not in her, and she is (very unfortunately) morbidly obese.

    We have switched insurance plans three different times; none of the companies will cover bariatric surgery. They’d rather pay for the heart problems, back problems, and diabetes that obesity can cause rather than this potential life-saving surgery.

    And yes, we’ve even looked into Mexico.

    Very ironically, I used to pack the pounds. After a bad health spell (my pancreas blew up on me), I developed the type of diabetes where your body holds no sugar in. In addition, my body is intolerant to any diabetes medication (four doctors, almost two dozen types of pills and injectable insulin, no luck). Therefore, I’ve dropped about 50 pounds by doing nothing. Half my wardrobe actually comes from the boys department now, as opposed to the men’s XL stuff I used to wear.

    However, my body is absolutely rotting on the inside. I’ve already developed neuropathy, eye, and kidney problems.

    The reaction I get from co-workers and acquaintances? They marvel at how ‘healthy’ I must be after dropping the weight. And my God, how friendly people are to me now that I’m not aesthetically offensive to the thin crowd.

    So, um, yeah, so much for judging a book by the cover.

    • MooflesThaCat says:

      Ask about a thyroid therapy regimine along with strict diet. Works wonders. Ask about T3/Clenbuturol stack therapy.

    • ElizabethD says:

      I love you for saying this:

      “I hate all these people who are on this eat less/ do more trick, like fat people have a switch they can hit. Some do, some don’t.”

      The obesity solution is far more complicated than “fewer calories, more exercise.” Yes, that works! (except for your wife, apparently — so sorry) But if it were that simple, no one would be overweight, right?

      Anyone who looks back into a family photo album extending as far as the 1800s and sees sturdy ancestors with huge sagging bosoms, wide hips, flab-o-licious upper arms, and no discernible waistlines can conclude that that may have inherited a tendency to be heavy as adults. There was no junk food back then, women worked their asses off just maintaining the household and often the farm as well, yet some of them were BIG. I gasped when I first glimpsed my great-great grandmother, an immigrant from Germany who probably had not one idle day in her lifetime, built pretty much like a very wide block with a big bosom. At least now I know whom to blame! :-)

      Thanks for your intelligent and sobering words. And I”m very sorry for your own health issue.

    • unchainedmuse says:

      You rock! I wish more people had your perspective on obesity. So many people think that fat automatically translates to slovenly, glutinous and lazy. It’s a stigma that too many thinner people support so that they can feel good about themselves, in my opinion. I will be happy when the day comes where nobody judges a book by its cover. :)

    • sufreak says:

      I completely agree. There is a negative stigma that comes with being heavy. Some people are born luckier with skinner/healthier bodies, better metabolism, etc.

      Many other are not. And its not so easy to shed the weight. And being skinny/fat does not make you healthy/unhealthy. My wife would be consider heavy, but shes healthy as anything. Low bp, excellent stats, etc.

      Thank you for standing up for the people who are so easily judged, beat up upon.

      Unfortunately, that’s not really the point of this article.

  29. MooflesThaCat says:

    I don’t feel bad for her.. you get what you paid for, whether it’s in dollars or pesos. ITS CALLED DIET AND EXCERSISE people! You can’t undo a decade of gluttony in one surgery!

  30. RogerX says:

    It should be noted that bariatric surgery in the US, at least a couple of years ago when I was reading up on it, still had a 3-5% mortality rate. 1 in every 20 to 35 people who has the surgery will die from complications.

  31. morehalcyondays says:

    Some things are worth spending the money on, like tires and surgery.

  32. tungstencoil says:

    Too bad the article doesn’t say what happened. There’s heavy implication there was a botch, but what if it’s complications within the standard risk profile?

    My heart goes out to her. What an awful thing.

    On the other hand, I’ve heard of a ton of success stories with ‘medical tourism’. Assuming you go to someone qualified, why not have a lovely trip somewhere and get your face lift done for about 50% including travel costs?

    As many have pointed out, a lot has to do with the what-if of complications.

  33. Dallas_shopper says:

    I’ll just say this once.

    I used to be morbidly obese and now I’m thin as a rail. No surgery. Diet and exercise. She should have tried that.

    Just saying.

    She also should not have used a surgeon in Tijuana. Common sense. Hopefully she’ll find someone to help her, but I don’t envy her the medical bills she’ll be paying for the rest of her life…unless, of course, she manages to get out from under them by declaring bankruptcy. Bet she’s wishing she bought American.

    • ElizabethD says:

      Thank you for your single data point, and congratulations. You do know you are FAR in the minority when it comes to maintaining significant weight loss. And not just because other people are morally inferior to you.

      • Dallas_shopper says:

        You inferred, I didn’t imply.

        And yes, once I was HONEST with myself about my activity levels and what I was eating, I realized I was eating far more than I thought I was. I’m not saying losing the weight was easy or that it didn’t require effort or that it does not require effort to keep it off (it does), but I refuse to believe that most people are NOT capable of the same accomplishment that I am.

        I’m not special, no reason for this to make me the exception to the rule. All it takes is discipline. Seriously. Try keeping a food diary sometime and you might be surprised all the calories you pick up over the course of a day. But it’s a lifestyle change that means you may have to watch other people eat pizza while you eat salad, or eat ice cream while you eat nothing. But that’s the price some of us have to pay to be thin and healthy. It’s worth it to me. It’s clearly not worth it to some other people. Just don’t ask me to pay for your lifestyle choice.

        • ElizabethD says:

          I’ve ordered you a tin halo to wear with your holier-than-thou attitude.

          • Dallas_shopper says:

            I’ve ordered you a stepladder to help you down off the cross.

            Someone else needs the wood.

            *eye roll*

        • supergeorgina says:

          Study after study has found that diet and exercise for the morbidly obese population has a 98% failure rate.

          You are indeed special. Thank your lucky stars but please stop assuming that the 98% who couldn’t do what you did just aren’t trying hard enough.

  34. Sure I could agree with you, but then we'd BOTH be wrong. says:

    Please, people… Don’t get this type of surgery, even from the USA.

    Weight loss is tough. Of course it’s simple math: Eat less calories than you burn every day, and you will lose weight. But the reality is that the emotional factor of eating just overrides the logic.

    There are support groups, such as Weight Watchers that can help. Hypnotherapy helps wonders. There are so many options, but the surgery should always be a LAST resort.

    • suez says:

      Why are you assuming it wasn’t already the last resort? I HAD tried all those other methods with little to no success. The surgery gave me the jump start metabolicaly that I needed, and I did the rest.

  35. MrBobo says:

    There’s overweight and there’s 100 pounds overweight/surgery level. At that extreme level, most people are not making reality their friend with diet and exercise issues.

    • Dallas_shopper says:

      Yeah…I was 120 lbs over my ideal weight. I lost an entire person. Been there. Didn’t need surgery to get out from under it.

      • Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

        You are morally strong and superior to us in every way. Thank you for your thought leadership.

        • ElizabethD says:

          LOL I know, right?

          • Dallas_shopper says:

            Stronger than some, sure. At least I’m not sitting on my ass stuffing my face and complaining about being fat.

            I did something about it.

            I’m not even sorry that you’re threatened by it. Your issue, not mine.

            • ElizabethD says:

              That’s true. *Your* issue is that you are insufferably arrogant and judgmental. Your choice.

  36. areaman says:

    Larissa said she’s been told she needs surgery or she’ll slowly die.

    What can one do to NOT slowly die??? Maybe she’ll know this better if she hears it from Brad Pitt. She should check out this movie called the Fight Club (“This is your life and it’s ending one moment at a time.”).

    • ElizabethD says:

      FF’s sake. Way to pick a tiny semantic argument that has nothing to do with the issue at hand.

      • areaman says:

        I’m not arguing anything.

        Ironically the posts above mine by Mr Bobo and Dallas more clearly make the point. It’s about accepting something and then taking action.

        Accepting what is in this case = “I need to change my life.” Not accepting what is going on = “I need an elective surgery.”

  37. ash says:

    There are more things to consider when travelling abroad for medical treatment, but it may be worth it for some people, especially those without insurance. With the skyrocketing cost of medical procedures and lack of insurance capabilities, can you really blame people? Of course there will always be stupid people who don’t seek doctors with good credentials and there’s less resources if there is malpractice.

    Got Lasik in Peru for $900. Costs $4.5K where I live. Undoubtedly, if I had to get thousands of dollars in dental work, I’d be going abroad for that too

  38. supergeorgina says:

    Okay, let’s do this.

    First, for everybody saying, “She should have used diet and exercise!”: Morbid obesity is not that simple. In the MO population, diet & exercise has a 98% failure rate.

    Second, to those saying she should have gotten a lap-band: Lap-band has consistently been proven to be the least effective bariatric surgery of them all. 1/4 of lap-bands have to be removed through a second surgery due to complications. Larissa chose the Duodenal Switch surgery for it’s outstanding proven effectiveness.

    Third, to those saying anything done in Mexico is dangerous: There is a fantastic, reputable DS surgeon in Mexico that Larissa could have gone to but didn’t for financial reasons. She saved herself a couple of thousand dollars when she went with the less experienced guy with the shady rep. THAT was her mistake.

    She chose the wrong doctor–not the wrong surgery or the wrong country to be operated in.

  39. smo0 says:

    I honestly don’t get how or why people still do this.

  40. Doubts42 says:

    So you decided you couldn’t afford your elective surgery in a regulated, though overpriced, market, and instead bargain shopped in a third world developing nation. And the surgery went wrong?!?! GASP, who could have predicted such an outcome?

  41. Mr2freak says:

    Thank you Consumerist commentators for not turning this one to a obese lynchfest. I had the lap band done and have lost 100% of my excess weight. There are excellent doctors available who will perform the surgery here in the US for 10K all inclusive cash pay. If you are considering bariatric surgery please forget Mexico and make sure you read the most current data relating to the specific surgery you are interested in.

  42. Little_Labowski says:

    There are some great surgeons in Mexico but DO YOUR RESEARCH. I got Lap-band surgery in Tijuana 4 years ago. While researching the surgeon I talked to current and former patients on the internet and around town and heard glowing recommendations. Get involved with a support group and someone will know the surgeon or know someone who knows. I also felt I got much better care with my Tijuana surgeon. Turns out many of the local surgeons in my area were trained by my surgeon and looking at the stats the local guys had done a couple of hundred surgeries whereas my surgeon had done a couple of thousand due to the procedure being available in Mexico sooner than in the US. If I had done it local I would have been home that night and more or less on my own whereas in Mexico I spent the night at their clinic with the benefit of an IV and checked in on often. Part of the fee included 3 nights after surgery in a very nice hotel down the street which was familiar with catering to people in my condition and had plenty of broth and jell-o available to me. The surgeon’s staff also checked in with me daily for the length of my stay and gave me a list of phone numbers to call (nutritionist, fill appointments, surgeon’s cell phone for emergencies) if I had questions after I got home.

    Just because it is in Tijuana doesn’t mean you’re getting cut up in the back of a van but like any medical procedure, know who’s working on you and what you can expect. I have heard some absolute horror stories about people who got this surgery in the US. The ability to sue is little comfort if you’re more likely to need it.

    I’m also happy to say it is 4 years later and I’m still down 100 lbs with no complications that couldn’t be fixed by having my band loosened which is a 5 minute procedure.

  43. Winteridge2 says:

    She should have opted for the much less costly do-it-yourself surgery as featured in “Major Surgery For Dummies”. Sometimes it has been known to work.

  44. Donna Grace says:

    I feel for Larissa but I also want to point out that she was warned numerous times not to see the particular surgeon she went to. He has had many problems and is known, in the duodenal switch community, to be a butcher.

    There is a surgeon in Mexico who is fantastic with a flawless track record and considered to be one of the best duodenal switch surgeons in the world but Larissa refused to pay the extra money even though people literally BEGGED her not to see this butcher. It isn’t as though she was going into this blindly.

    I do wish her the best and I believe she found a top DS surgeon in the US who will work with her and try and repair the damage the butcher did to her.

    For the record, many insurance companies will pay for complications resulting from elective bariatric surgery.

    This shouldnt be about all medical tourism being evil because it isnt. You just need to be smart, research your surgeons, listen to warnings and don’t try and take the cheapest route possible.

    Also, do the research yourself and plan everything yourself. This is your life.

    The entire Larissa story including posts where she was warned, updates from the hospital and which surgeon did this to her is all available on the DS forum on OH.

    I hope someone does help her out financially because no one deserves to suffer the way she is, even though she made a bad decision. We are only human. I just don’t want to see an entire industry smashed to the ground unfairly.

  45. Not Given says:

    I wouldn’t have my insides mutilated even if I weighed 1000 lbs

    • Dallas_shopper says:

      If you weighed 1,000 lbs, your morbid obesity would have mutilated your insides (and your outsides) long before anyone put a scalpel to you.

    • supergeorgina says:

      How nice that you could resign yourself to death so quietly.

      • Not Given says:

        Better to die slowly fat than die slowly by starvation, nutrient deficiency, malabsorption, etc.

        • supergeorgina says:

          Heart attack at 38 isn’t a slow death.

          Many many many people have weight loss surgery and live long healthy lives. With proper supplementation, there’s no reason a bariatric surgery patient can’t live to be elderly.

  46. jcazz says:

    My wife had this procedure three years ago. It’s an incredibly invasive type of weight loss surgery and it took her weeks to get back to “normal” and that was from a competent doc who is very well known for performing this specific procedure. I cannot imagine gambling like this. Wow – my heart goes out to her – I know what my wife went through to recovery. I cannot imagine.

  47. MrBobo says:

    People gain weight if there is an increase in calories taken in or a decrease in calories expended. As a gross oversimplification, 150 pounds overweight x 3500 calories per pound= 525,000 extra calories. For 525,000 calories a person wasn’t easing up on the chow line, gets surgery, then gets pissy when called on it. Of course, others have legitimate issues that don’t fall under that scenario. That’s a totally different story. I just think we all collectively make too many excuses for being a moo cow. I’m going out for a Baconator now. Goodbye.

  48. Verdant Pine Trees says:

    I’m really sorry to hear about the OP’s troubles.

    I think part of the problem is the incessant commentary that “you must change now or DIE!!!” we often get about obesity; and the solution trumpeted most loudly is never the long-term changes or “Health at Every Size” (the idea that regardless of your weight you focus on eating better and exercising several times a week).

    No, it’s bariatric surgery or “Biggest Loser” style boot camps, dramatic change that can’t be integrated easily into our lives long term.

    As someone who is overweight but not morbidly obese, I can tell you that there are few if any side effects from the “Health at Every Size” changes… yes, I only lose about a pound or so a week, but I also have no trouble doing cardiovascular exercise, climbing stairs, I sleep and feel better than I did when I was younger and lighter. The safest weight loss is not dramatic, it’s not on “Biggest Loser”. Check out the Weight Loss Control Registry – collecting data about people who lose weight for years rather than a few months and yo-yoing back. The majority of people on the registry end up changing their diet permanently (so in the words of the esteemed xenobiologist Dr. Stephen Franklin, “it’s not a diet, it’s a food plan!”) and doing about an hour daily of exercise.

    It was discussed up thread that some insurance companies say “No, but” … and the “but” being , “…we will reconsider if you first spend a year losing weight on a doctor-sponsored diet (“food plan!”) and exercise regime”. I am curious as to whether the OP was given this option by her insurance company; because of all the pressure to “Act NOW or DIE”, she might have felt desperate even if the option was suggested.

  49. lvixen says:

    I’ve had the lap band procedure. It is a time consuming prospect to get any kind of bariatric procedure. First, your BMI has to be at a certain level to even be considered for insurance to cover it. Plus, the physician I went to doesn’t even think about accepting you until you go to a 2 hour seminar. Once that’s done, you start the testing, both physical and mental. The tests alone costs approx. 1,000 to the client. (that’s after all the deductions). You have to go through a mental test that takes about 4 hours or so. It’s very intensive. If she failed any of the testing or didn’t meet the minimum BMI, insurance wouldn’t have covered the surgery.

  50. lvixen says:

    From what I’ve heard, the duodenal switch is chancy at best anyway. Unless I’m confusing my information, you have to be on major medication for the rest of your life with that one.

  51. DragonThermo says:

    “I don’t have any more money, I don’t have insurance and [surgeons here] don’t want to take on somebody else’s mistakes.”

    I don’t blame the US surgeons at all. They may be good medical professionals and *want* to help, but if they do take on fixing the Mexican “doctor’s” mistake, and they are unable to fix it adequately or if complications occur or of she dies, the US surgeon will be on the hook for the multi-million dollar malpractice suit.

    It seems that over a third of the commercials on TV during non-network prime-time hours are for ambulance-chasing lawyers. They’d love for a US surgeon to try to fix her condition. They’d probably make contact with the family before she even got out of the O.R.

  52. Zwitterion says:

    Going to other countries for work isn’t all bad. You just need to go research, research, and research.

    A coworker and I went to Piedras Negras, Mexico (across from Eagle Pass, Texas) just to get out of town for Thanksgiving. I checked out a few dental offices there, and met a few locals. I went to the best and most complete, up to date office I could find on that side that spoke good English. (There are dental offices all over the square just across the bridge into town.) Since I needed $20k USD worth of work, I went ahead and got an examination. While getting the exam and quote, I checked for small things. Like rubber gloves, sterilized tools, Mexico accreditations on walls… I saw all the things done right. I got the quote, and found out I would be saving 2/3 the money. They had computers, xray machines, and I even asked to see the autoclave, which they showed without hesitation. I didn’t get any work done that trip. Or the trip after. I just wanted to check it out, to make sure all was good.

    I ended up going back in February by myself. 7 hour drive from Dallas. I took $4500 cash. I got a room on the US side, and just walked across back and forth between appointments. I only took what cash I needed for the appointment, stashed the rest in my room on the US side. My local friends told me I had what is regarded the best dentist in town. And alot of the people in the waiting room were mostly from Texas. They all told me they came from San Antonio, Austin, and Houston for their work. I got great opinions from quite a few people. So, I went ahead and got started. It took 4 days to finish everything.That’s 3 bridges, 4 crowns, 1 root canal, deep cleaning, fillings, and several xrays. They worked fast while I watched what must’ve been Mexican Idol on the flat screen TV at my chair. The medicine they give you is great, although you are not allowed to cross back into the US with. Be careful for that, because the pharmacist I used said I could… got me there. I shoulda researched that before I got to customs, because I sure enough got turned around to take my meds back to the dentist office, which they held for me till I could make it back over to take my next dose.

    I have got the best smile I have ever had in my life! And have had it for almost 2 years now with no regrets whatsoever. Every time I go back to Piedras Negras, I always stop and get an exam and a cleaning ($25USD), and to say hi to the friendly assistants in there.

    My coworker’s wife had a pain in a crown that 2 dentists in Dallas couldn’t fix. We made the trip again, and she got her tooth fixed for next to nothing. I haven’t heard any complaints from them…

    I know who gets my money now, and it ain’t some dentist here in the states. Just be careful and use common sense when working in another country. Talk to the locals, people in the waiting rooms. Looks for the normal things in a doctors or dental office. Ask for accreditation. Look for an autoclave. And go with your gut feeling most of all. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.

  53. mvega says:

    There are millions of people in Mexico. The vast majority go to their doctors. Yes, there are few millionaires that go out to the US, Europe or Chile or Brazil, but the vast majority are OK with their own doctors.

    Just like in the US, anywhere for that matter, there are good doctors and there are bad ones. It is your body, you’re responsible for it. When it comes to surgery, don’t put it in any hands that you don’t know. Do your research. If you’re going to another country, pay someone to research for you. There are lots of services who specialize in Medical tourism in Mexico and they do good.

    After having insurance deny a couple of my claims, I fired them. I now rely solely on Tijuana doctors. However, I know people who live there and they have doctors in their family. I rely on them to tell me who the good doctors are.

    Recently I had to go more than usual because of a condition. I ended up going to see a surgeon, he brought up the word surgery and I went to a second. He also said surgery and I went to see a third. He said surgery but not necessary. By the way, the last one taught the first two at the University of Baja. He came highly recommended from two other doctors. He was honest and told me that the surgery has a 30% chance of helping. I opted for no surgery. I learned that thousands cope with the condition. Just diet and take the meds–avoid surgery.

    If I had to do surgery in Mexico, I would research thoroughly and exhaustively until there was no alternative. And even then, I would buy insurance to cover the after surgery care. Then again, I would do this here in the US too. No difference. Research, research and then pray… with surgery it’s your life that’s on the table.