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Medical Tourism Can Be Fatal for Dieters

Tim Boyer's picture
Medical tourism

Are you thinking about going on a weight loss holiday for some "sun 'n surgery" fun to lose weight at a very affordable price? You may want to rethink that weight loss option per a news report that shows that medical tourism can become fatal for dieters.


A summer holiday can be a great way to escape the stress of work and bad eating habits of home and give your body a fighting chance to lose some of that excess weight. In fact, Dr. Oz recently offered these holiday weight loss tips on how to go about making the most of your weight loss during a vacation.

However, there is a second holiday weight loss option that is gaining in popularity. Commonly referred to as “medical travel holidays” or “medical tourism,” patients spend their holiday time at foreign hospitals for body shaping, cosmetic and bariatric surgery followed by some recovery time at a beach or resort. The primary attraction is that the medical care costs much less than what you would pay in the U.S., and you return home with more than just a tan.

This option is so popular that according to a recent news report by ABC affiliate station KGTV San Diego, Patients Beyond Borders states that 1.1 million U.S. patients go outside of the U.S. for medical treatments that are 40-60 percent cheaper. Which to be fair, offers hope and treatment for patients with limited incomes and insurance providers that will not cover their treatment at home.

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But is this really a safe way to go about losing weight? Perhaps not. An investigative report by KGTV San Diego reveals that even when some patients did their homework by researching the doctor and facility for their treatment, the surgeries went bad for these patients:

Furthermore, just this past March, the death of a young Australian woman following a cosmetic procedure on her buttocks recently led to the partial closing of The Del Valle Surgical Hospital in Mexicali Baja California where the young woman was treated. This is following a press release last year by the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons that warns of overseas surgery risks and offers multiple links to several reports of medial tourism gone wrong—especially in Thailand that has become especially attractive to medical tourists.

So, does this mean that all medical tourism venues are unsafe? In a word—no. But what this does highlight is that patients have to perform more informed investigations into what facility they go to and who the physician(s) are that will treat them beyond what they can find on the internet or through a medical tourism broker service. And at the very least, be sure to be accompanied by a friend or family member and have an exit strategy should things go wrong and you need help quick back in the States.

For more about what you should be looking for when planning on trying medical tourism for losing weight, having cosmetic procedures done, or any other medical procedure, take a careful look at this guide by the Centers for Disease Control on medical tourism.

Reference: KGTV San Diego “Dozens injured during weight loss surgery in Mexico



I totally agree with Tim. Patients need to do more extensive investigations about the medical facility that they choose. Usually patients choose the cheapest facility they can get, but cheaper is not always good. patients need to do more research about the doctors, their success rate for the surgery and their experience. Medical tourism facilitators get more profit when their patients are operated in newer or smaller healthcare facilities, which, i believe is ethically wrong. They shouldn't run after their profit. Rather, they need to help the patient in finding the best hospital and the expert doctor for the surgery in question. I have got one advice for patients seeking medical treatment abroad. If the medical tourism facilitator is too pushy, and is not providing you the details of the doctor, avoid him.