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GASTRIC SLEEVE BLOG

The cost of gastric sleeve surgery in Mexico, Why is it cheaper than in the US?

Posted by Dr. Rosales

Dec 22, 2016 1:04:45 PM

cost os gastric sleeve surgery in mexico.jpgThe topic of gastric sleeve costs is one that we have touched on several times before, however, based on the questions of those who are interested in our bariatric services we realize that there are still doubts and unclear areas. Therefore we will try to explain in more detail the reason for the difference in prices for gastric sleeve surgery in mexico compared to the United States.

It should be noted that these observations apply only to the comparative price of gastric sleeve in Mexico versus the prices of the gastric sleeve in the USA, for different reasons that we will also explain below.


Facilities where the gastric sleeve surgery will be performed

That patient who seeks to have surgery in mexico and expects to reach a hospital of the size and capabilities of an MD Anderson or a Cleveland Clinic, is already in the wrong direction. Not because there are no hospitals in Mexico that can compete in infrastructure, but because it would be impossible to offer attractive prices if we operate our patients in similar places, which have high costs for the luxury of their facilities, since in terms of equipment, the hospitals we offer have everything necessary for the proper attention and management of our bariatric patients.


For Obesity Free, as a group of people who are dedicated to operate gastric sleeve patients in mexico, the United States and Canada mainly, it is very important to give a quality service and therefore we would not dare to offer our surgeries in places (facilities/cities) where there are no resources to provide safety and quality, in addition to the warmth that distinguishes us. As for the differences in costs of gastric sleeve surgery between different parts of Mexico, this is already a very separate issue that we will try in another post on our blog at some point.

Having said that, with the simple fact of operating in a hospital that does not exceed 40 or 100 beds (depending on the location you choose within the options we offer) we can cut on costs, as they are medium-sized hospitals that are maintained exclusively thanks to the private investment and private patients, which do not depend in any administrative or economic aspect of the Mexican Government.

Just to give a very simple example of "personal" experiences with patients who we have performed surgery on. A patient of ours who had gastric sleeve surgery in Piedras Negras, developed an uncommon condition known as cholecystolithiasis (gallstones) so she went to the emergency department of her city in the US where the admittance to the ER, management and diagnosis of the origin of her abdominal pain, she was charged the "modest" amount of $ 12,000 USD!


When in an average private hospital in Mexico for the same type of medical care, studies and services, would have paid at most about 1,000 USD, and this is exaggerating a bit considering all the battery of studies usually done in the US.

 


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Medical practice in bariatric surgery

This brings us to the next topic, which is very delicate and somewhat disheartening in some aspects.

With the passage of time the practice of medicine at a global level, led by the USA, at least from our perception, has lost its nature and reason of being at times. The ultimate goal of a physician is to help someone who needs it, based on their knowledge / experience. Obviously, the specialists thinks on obtaining a financial income for the work done, since like all, the doctors have family and we look to make a living.


Unfortunately, in recent decades, the practice of medicine is governed by how the doctor must protect himself or herself from being sued by a patient, (please note that there are a lot of exceptions, this is just to give a clear example of the topic), so that said doctor and hospital are forced to make a long list of laboratory studies, imaging for the diagnosis of a disease; This is not a good way to practice medicine as it makes the doctor less suspicious and skilled for his clinical diagnoses; but the end point of this explanation is that all this reflects on the hospital bill.


If I still cannot explain myself, let's say for example cars from 30 years ago versus today’s cars; You can’t deny that in these times when you take the car to the workshop the mechanic cannot tell us what happens to our car if they do not connect a diagnostic device to the vehicle’s computer. When before the mechanic stopped in front of the exposed engine of the car, asked for it be turned on and with sounds, vibrations and other signals, could diagnose the car’s problem.


Something similar happens in our times with medicine, today there is the practice of performing excessive studies for the diagnosis and management of a patient, either in the emergency room or a with patient scheduled for elective surgery, which again, it is reflected at the final hospital bill.



It is noteworthy that we, at Obesity Free perform all the tests that are required at the level of the health norms of Mexico which are based in large part on the international ones.


In other words, what we have described in this section about the tests does not mean that we do not perform an adequate preoperative evaluation of our patients, but rather, we dare to say that compared to many other bariatric groups in Mexico, in Obesity Free We carefully evaluate our patients who require it, everything in order to offer them the greatest possible safety, this is a point (as well as in the material) where we do not skimp on resources, but even like that, these resources are much cheaper.


One area where we can also reduce costs considerably is that, while always monitoring the patient's integrity, not everything that is used inside and outside the operating room is completely new. Only and exclusively reused things that do not put our patients in any kind risk  by the process of sterilization.


The cleanliness / sterility of the equipment we use in our patients is paramount in our daily practice as it is in first world countries.


Materials that can be re-used without risk to the patient are:


  • Doctor's surgical robes
  • The sheets that are placed on the patient
  • The sheets under the patient
  • Operating room pillows
  • And other non-disposable attachments

As you can realize, they are only things that would not jeopardize the integrity and well-being of our patients.


However in other countries like the USA this type of material is disposable and represents a considerable extra expense when added. In addition it represents a waste of material. Let us remind ourselves that both in Mexico and around the world hospitals are not willing to "miss" the opportunity to charge up to the last gauze, syringe or alcohol swab used.


Also in the US, laparoscopic instruments such as graspers, scissors and others are disposable, since hospitals, by agreement with different medical material companies, have consumption goals and agreements that are in fact excessive and unnecessary expenses. In many countries, including Mexico, under a strict control of washing and sterilization we reuse graspers that are as safe as disposable ones and even of a much higher quality than the latter, because they are highly specialized equipment for these surgeries.

 

Drugs used for bariatric surgery in Mexico

Unlike what many people in the US think, medicines in Mexico are not always cheap. However, in some cases the medicines have a price difference that once added to the total account also allows us to reduce costs without reducing quality. At Obesity Free we use only brand name drugs and recognized even in the US as safe and used daily in a hospital environment.



Preoperative evaluations fo weight loss surgery

This topic has enough material to be said that could represent a whole new blog post that we may develop at some point. The costs of the preoperative evaluations of our patients are very accessible. Adding the different evaluations and tests performed to the average patient who comes to us to have gastric sleeve surgery in Mexico, the average cost is approximately 850 USD, this including the fees of the doctors that we decide to involve for each particular case, either evaluation by internal medicine, cardiologist, pulmonologist, endocrinologist, psychologist, nutritionist, etc.

 

Surgical materials for gastric sleeve surgery in Mexico

Here we definitely cannot "brag" that our costs are lower since the material we use in every gastric sleeve procedure of our patients are of the best quality that exists at an international level. We definitely only work with the leading brands and endorsed by the FDA, this mainly includes Johnson & Johnson's - Ethicon and Autosuture-Covidien / Medtronic.


These two companies cover almost all of the materials we use for bariatric surgeries in our daily practice:


From energy generators to coagulate and cut, devices such as the harmonic scalpel, ligasure, etc.


As well as the laparoscopic staplers that are the key piece for the accomplishment of a gastric sleeve or gastric bypass


These staplers are essential to have the possibility of performing the procedure via laparoscopic approach because they are responsible for resecting (cutting) and sealing (with staples) the tissues involved such as the stomach and intestine.


For this step it is of special importance that the best staplers available on the market are used, not only in Mexico but at an international level, since a low quality device could put the patient's integrity at risk. The approximate cost of using these and other devices in which quality is essential is $ 3500 USD for each surgical case.

When interested people make contact and talk directly with us, they often question us why the price difference compared to other parts within the same Mexico, where they offer ridiculously low figures.


Quality comes first

This is the main argument we offer you, since it will never be the same in terms of safety to perform a gastric sleeve or a gastric bypass with low quality staplers that cost a third of what the ones we use cost, which are exactly the same that are used in the US and Europe.


Here applies perfectly the saying of "cheap becomes expensive" since performing a surgery of this type looking for the cheapest option regardless of the quality of the material is synonymous of a greater risk of complications and therefore a much greater expense for their final management .


Another example that even a previous patient gave us and seems very wise to give some perspective, is:


If a car is for sale and costs half or much less of what it costs elsewhere in the same country, the first thing that will come to mind to the interested in the vehicle is if it is really new or if there is something the seller is not telling you.


This same concept should be applied when in a recognized place the cost of the sleeve is, say an example of 7000 USD and in another it is only 2800 USD. Definitely somewhere in the chain there is a very weak link which should be a warning sign.

If you want to see more details about the reasons in the difference in the costs of the gastric sleeve in México versus USA, we invite you to visit this article, there you will find details such as medical malpractice insurance, medical personnel salaries, rent and maintenance costs , etc.


We now invite you to share your experience or your plans if you are looking to have bariatric surgery in México.

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Topics: Gastric Sleeve

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