What is Medical Tourism?

Medical tourism is the practice of traveling to a foreign country to access healthcare systems or services that are unavailable or less attractive in the patient’s native country. In some of the low-cost foreign destinations, various surgical procedures are available at a significantly lower cost than in the US.  

However, when it comes to bariatric surgery, the term medical tourism does not adequately describe all the concerns related to the procedure. Therefore, the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) has adopted the term ‘global bariatric healthcare.’ In the US, Dr. Wiljon Beltre provides bariatric surgery to patients in Orlando, Tampa, Maitland, Central Florida, and surrounding communities.

Quality Control in Global Bariatric Healthcare

Several countries participate in medical tourism, but quality controls and accreditation processes vary widely depending on the host country. No worldwide standards of care are established, which makes global bariatric healthcare a riskier proposition. In many places, it can be difficult to distinguish between medical innovation and patient exploitation by way of providing unproven therapies. Even the medical supplies used in such destinations may not be effectively regulated.

Risks Involved

When a patient chooses to visit another country for bariatric healthcare, there is more to consider than just the cost and quality of the surgery performed. Peri-operative care presents a serious challenge for bariatric surgeries. Pre-op patient education, continuity of care and long-term follow up are critical aspects to achieve successful results in bariatric surgery. These are typically not possible in a setting of medical travel.

Some of the medical tourism healthcare facilities may have advanced imaging capabilities, modern Intensive Care Unit, interventional radiology and other such technologies to provide optimal care for any serious post-surgical complications. Sometimes a complication may arise only when the patient has returned to the US, which can create different challenges.

Some surgeons in the US may be hesitant to treat patients who have had surgery in another country. An operative report may not be available, there may lack of clarity on the exact procedures performed, and it may be difficult to determine liability of a surgeon in a foreign land. The cost of treating complications back in the US may be substantial in cases where the primary treatment was received abroad.

Other Limitations

Sustainable success in bariatric surgery depends on lifelong compliance with nutritional guidelines, dietary habits and exercise as part of a comprehensive weight management program. If the patient has received bariatric surgery abroad, they may not have been educated or prepared about the long-term care issues.

This has particularly proved to be a challenge for many patients who received an adjustable gastric band procedure internationally and require band adjustments and long-term follow up. Dedicated bariatric surgeon Dr. Beltre receives patients from Orlando, Tampa, Maitland, Central Florida, and nearby areas for weight loss procedures.

Travel-Related Hazards

Traveling a long distance after bariatric surgery may increase the risk of complications such as deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolisms. Infections and endemic diseases of the host country should also be considered as travel risk factors.

Important Note: If the weight is regained, diabetes, and other conditions could return.

To find out more about the procedures & treatments performed by Orlando Bariatric Surgeon, Dr. Wiljon Beltre, at The Center for Metabolic and Obesity Surgery Call 321-499-6505 or Click Here to Schedule a Consultation.

Please note: If the weight is regained, conditions could return.

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