Risk of Correcting Weight Loss Surgeries Done Abroad

Posted by Jason Radecke on Fri, Dec 14, 2012

With the tight economy, everyone is looking for ways to cut costs. Some people are finding that by traveling abroad, can save money on popular medical procedures. But like some things that aren’t “made in the USA,” many of these outsourced medical procedures are inferior to the ones completed in the U.S. Many other countries do not have the same safety requirements or experienced doctors. Also, many of the prices for surgery abroad do not include aftercare, which is very important for a surgery to be successful. Before making the decision to go abroad for your medical needs it is important to carefully examine the risks. If something goes wrong abroad it can cause extra complications that can keep you from getting the help that you need.

Distance10 things you must pack when traveling around the world

Because you are so far away from home, the sheer distance is a risk in itself. After your surgery is completed abroad, you must make the trek home. If anything goes wrong after the procedure, you are stuck in an unfamiliar place, and will most likely not have access to a second opinion or a specialist. If there are any complications after your surgery you may not be well enough to return home right away, causing you to be trapped in another country without proper medical attention.


If you do make it back to the United States before any major complications arise, you will run into another major problem -- U.S. doctors are afraid to help you. According to the American Society of Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery, if you have a life-threatening complication from a surgery, doctors can provide care “without risk of litigation.” Any complications that do not call for emergency medical care “should be provided at the discretion of the local bariatric surgeon.”

In other words, if your complications are not life-threatening, American doctors can be liable if anything goes wrong while helping you, which will greatly deter them from fixing any of your problems left from your original surgery.

Lack of Medical Records

If you do find a doctor that will help you, many times they have difficulty retrieving your medical records from the original surgeon abroad. One woman went to Mexico to have a routine lap band weight loss procedure, then returned to the United States with complications and could not get her doctor in Mexico to return any of her calls or send her medical records. This made it very difficult for the American surgeon to fix her problems, because he could not get the documents from the original procedure.

Who pays for complications?

Another problem with leaving the country for a medical procedure is that most insurance companies will not pay for the treatment for complications from surgeries abroad. Even if you have a life-threatening condition as a result of your surgery, most insurance companies will not pay for any corrective procedures that could save your life.

Even if the complication is directly due to the surgeon’s incompetence, other countries do not have the same legal protection for the patient. Therefore, the doctor is not responsible for their mistake, even if it is their fault. This is an important risk to take into consideration if you decide to outsource your medical needs.

Leaving the country to find a cheaper medical procedure may seem like a savvy way to save some money, but it is important to weigh the risks. Not only are there risks when the surgery is actually being completed, but there are also risks after the fact. Do your research and understand the dangers associated with having weight loss surgery abroad.

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Tags: Weight Loss Surgery Abroad

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