Beware of Patient Brokers
These are independent people who receive a kick back for each patient that they sway to book with a
surgeon they represent. If they donít book any surgeries, they donít get a paycheck! They may represent
one surgeon or several. They may set up separate websites offering to let you choose your surgeon, when
in reality, they are choosing for you! These people will do and say anything to get you to use them!
If it's too good to be true, it probably is! Ask yourself why a surgeon would offer specials or internet
deals. You have to pay for quality and experience. This is true with everything else in life. It's also
true with surgery. And, your life is worth more than the few bucks you'll save! The prices in Mexico can
vary from a low of $6,500 to a high of $10,500. Most of the good surgeons charge more than $9,000 and less
than $11,000. Stay in that range! Don't go above or below! If the price is less, they are probably not
providing the best quality and safety. If it's more, they are charging too much!
Is clean good enough? The facility should meet or exceed U.S. standards, contain state of the art medical
equipment and be clean. If it doesn't, pass it by. Modern, well equipped and clean facilities do exist
in Mexico. So do old, outdated and primitive facilities. You'll find both in Tijuana, Monterrey and in
the rest of Mexico.
Hospital or Surgery Center?
What's the difference between a hospital and a surgery center? Maybe a lot, maybe not! In the U.S. a
hospital is equipped with all the necessary medical equipment to sustain life and treat the sick. In
Mexico this may not always be true. In fact using a well equipped, modern state of the art surgery center
can be better than a "Hospital" in Mexico. Look for trained staff, facilities and equipment that are
experts in treating the morbidly obese surgery patient. Is there a critical / intensive care unit
equipped to handle bariatric surgery situations? You may be much better off in a surgery center that is
dedicated only to bariatric surgeries. Chances are, the staff will be dedicated to taking care of your
surgeon's patients only. Additionally, a facility that only treats bariatric patients will not be
treating sick patients that can spread infections to you!
You should not only ask for them, you should seek them out on your own. When you are provided with a list
of patient references remember, they are giving you a list of patients that will give glowing reports only!
Some of them may even be paid for this. You should also stay away from moderated "Internet support groups". You
want the whole picture, not a censored version. If the group is moderated, there's probably a reason. Join
only un-moderated groups. You should not only try to seek out other patients on your own, you should also
contact U.S. bariatric surgeons and ask for their recommendations. Ask the office of the Mexican surgeon
you're considering for names of U.S. bariatric surgeons you can call for references. If they can't give
you names of real U.S. bariatric surgeons, don't use that surgeon. You should seek out U.S. INAMED certified
surgeons, call or write to them and ask them about the particular surgeons you're considering. They may
or may not want to give you a name as a recommendation, but if you drop a name or two to them, they may give
you their thoughts. If they have never heard of the Mexican surgeon, or don't know much about them, stay
away from that surgeon. An expert surgeon, in Mexico or anywhere else, will have been asked to speak at
professional conferences all over the world and will have been seen and heard by U.S. Lap-Band surgeons.
You better believe if a great Lap-Band surgeon exists in Mexico, the U.S. has heard about him.
Can I sue a Mexican surgeon if something goes wrong?
You can sue anyone you want. However, you probably won't get far in Mexico. That's why it's very important
to choose a reputable surgeon. In other words, choose a surgeon that has demonstrated integrity, ability,
good judgment and has a proven track record. How can you do that? Look at his reputation and the
certifications he holds. For instance, an incompetent surgeon who rips off his patients would not be an
FACS, a member of ASBS, etc. His reputation means something and he doesn't want to lose it!
(More info regarding this subject below).
This is the most important thing to consider! This surgeon will literally be holding your life in his or
her hands. Choose only the best. Can you believe everything you're told by a patient coordinator or
facilitator for a Mexican doctor? The answer is NO! In fact, you should believe nothing they tell you!
They don't have to tell you the truth. Some will, many won't. So how do you know? You must verify
everything you're told. This is much easier than it sounds. Let's take it one by one. You will hear claims
- "This surgeon has done more Lap-Bands than any other surgeon."
While more is better, once the surgeon's Lap-Band surgeries number in the
thousands, he's going to be proficient.
- "This surgeon is INAMED's top surgeon."
INAMED is not going to give you the name of their "Top surgeon". They are not in the business to
sway you toward one particular doctor. Especially a Mexican doctor.
- "This surgeon works for INAMED and trains surgeons in the U.S."
Easy to check. Call or write to INAMED and ask. While they won't give
recommendations, they'll verify factual information.
- "This surgeon was asked to work for INAMED, but declined."
Again, call and ask. This is a stupid statement and most likely untrue.
- "Proctoring for INAMED means nothing, they asked lots of surgeons to do that."
Another stupid statement. INAMED makes a product that they want to sell.
The first FDA trials were terrible. They wanted the U.S. to see the same
results that were seen in other countries. They chose from the best of the best
Lap-Band surgeons and asked them to teach and proctor. Period.
- "This surgeon is certified by INAMED and only places INAMED bands."
Another claim easily verified by contacting INAMED. Some surgeons are not
certified to use INAMED bands, but are placing them anyway. How are they
doing this? They are purchasing them from a third party. These are called
"gray market bands". Some surgeons were at one time certified but their
certification has been revoked by INAMED. If a surgeon is not INAMED
certified it could also be that they have never sought certification and they use
another brand of band and there's nothing wrong with that. But remember,
you live in the United States and the INAMED band is currently the only
band approved for use in the U.S. This could affect your ability to get care in
the U.S. You should also consider that INAMED requires all surgeons,
inside or outside the United States be trained, proctored and certified by one
of their designated proctors to use an INAMED band.
- "This surgeon is better because (here's where they make derogatory statements about their competition)."
They should be able to impress you with the credentials of their surgeon and
not resort to making their surgeon look good by making another look bad. If
the salesperson is making comments to you about other surgeons, take it to
mean that they have nothing good to say about their surgeon.
- "This surgeon has had no complications at all."
If the surgeon has had no complications they are either lying or they have not
done many surgeries. ALL experienced Lap-Band Surgeons have had slippages, erosions
as well as minor complications. However, complications should not be
excessive and should be at a rate of no more than about 2%. This is surgery!
No surgery is without occasional complications. More importantly is the
question, "Will the surgeon be available to me in the event of a complication?"
And, "What happens if I have a complication and I cannot get back to the
- "This surgeon is (here's where they tell you about all the credentials the surgeon has and/or organizations where he belongs)."
They may say that the surgeon is a member of The American Society for
Bariatric Surgery. What kind of member? Are they an affiliate or a Regular
member? Whenever possible choose a Regular member. This requires a higher
degree of expertise and/or credentials. Ask to have a copy of their ASBS
certification faxed or emailed to you. If they have one, they'll let you see it.
You can also check with the ASBS website yourself. Same goes with the claim
of a Fellowship in the American College of Surgeons. If they are a Fellow,
they'll have a certificate, ask to see it or check with the College's website.
These are very rare in Mexico, but they exist. The surgeon should also be a
member of IFSO (International Federation for the Surgery of Obesity). They
also have a website here http://www.obesity-online.com/ifso/council.htm. Why not choose the best?!