Naval Medical Center San Diego California

October 08, 2019 - by - in Bariatric Surgery

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If you’re thinking about going outside the U.S. or traveling for your weight loss surgery, we have three good reasons to stay in California:

  1. Medical tourism can be risky. Healthcare in some countries isn’t as highly regulated as it is in the United States.
  2. You want to be within driving distance of your surgeon for post-operative care for at least 12 months.
  3. California’s healthcare laws protect you when you have surgery within the state.

We will explore these three reasons further so you can make an informed decision when selecting a bariatric surgeon. 

Medical Tourism is Risky

The medical tourism industry is expected to hit $179.6 billion by 2026. Medical tourism is gaining popularity as Americans seek cheaper alternatives to elective procedures like plastic surgery, infertility treatments and bariatric surgery. While the procedures may cost less in other countries, they come with significantly more risks, as we explain in this comparison between weight loss surgery in Mexico and the U.S.

The CDC lists several reasons why medical tourism is risky:

  • Communication may be problematic if you and the healthcare providers in the destination country don’t speak the same language 
  • Medications may not be of high quality or may even be counterfeit
  • Antibiotic-resistant bacteria may be more common in other countries
  • Flying after surgery increases the risk of blood clots

California Law Protects Healthcare Consumers

Every state has its own laws that protect consumers of healthcare services. As soon as you leave U.S. borders, however, your protection ends. 

Consumer Protection From Surprise Medical Bills

California law protects patients from something called “surprise medical bills,” which happens when out-of-network service providers bill you for non-emergency services that are performed at in-network facilities.

For example, you have surgery at an out-patient facility that is in your network, and you get billed for anesthesia, radiology, laboratory or other ancillary healthcare services that were performed during your procedure. That’s to be expected.

However, if those providers aren’t part of your insurance company’s network, you are responsible for only the in-network portion of the bill. According to California law, you can be billed for only your in-network copay, co-insurance or deductible when you use an in-network facility for non-emergency care.

How Licensing and Board Certification Protects You

Every state, including California, requires doctors to be licensed to practice within the state. In California, doctors are licensed by the Medical Board of California. 

When you seek a surgeon for any procedure, look for one who is not only licensed but also board-certified and fellowship-trained in his or her area of expertise. For example, you’ll see “FACS” after Dr. Naim’s name, which indicates he is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons. Additionally, he is board certified by the American Board of Surgery.

Fellows and board-certified physicians have met certain education and training criteria and passed the Board’s rigorous exam process. Board certification isn’t required to practice medicine; however, it’s a voluntary way that doctors demonstrate that they’ve committed to high-quality care for their patients.

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Post-Surgery Care Is Better At Home

If there is any single superior reason why California residents should opt for weight loss surgery in their home state, it is this: You want to be within driving distance of your surgeon after your procedure. 

Patient Monitoring After Surgery

The post-operative process for bariatric surgery is unlike any other. Your relationship with your surgeon doesn’t end when you leave the hospital. Your doctor will need to continue to provide:

  • Pain management
  • Wound care
  • Monitoring of your vitals (weight, blood pressure, heart rate, blood sugar)
  • Diet and nutrition counseling and monitoring

The last point is very important: As a bariatric patient, your body will undergo rapid changes and you won’t be able to consume food the way you did before surgery. We at Soma Weight Loss support our patients from the moment they walk into our office until they reach their weight loss goals, and beyond.

Your doctor will also monitor you for weight loss surgery side effects and complications. 

Possible side effects from bariatric surgery: nausea and vomiting, constipation, acid reflux, stomach pain, trouble swallowing, wound infection and ulcers. 

Possible complications from bariatric surgery: gastrointestinal leaking, Dumping Syndrome (when too much food is eaten and “dumps” into the small intestine), hypoglycemia, chronic diarrhea, bowel obstruction, gallstones and nutritional deficiencies.

We don’t tell you the side effects and complications to scare you. We tell you because after performing thousands of these types of operations, we know how to prevent, minimize and treat them. This is important to keep in mind when searching for a weight loss surgeon

Post-Op Care for Bariatric Patients

The timeline for bariatric surgery starts with your first appointment and doesn’t end until at least a year postoperatively. 

For approximately a year after your surgery and at least until you meet your weight loss goals, you will meet with your surgeon on a regular basis. Dr. Naim, for example, typically sees his patients for regular check-ins at 30 days, 90 days, 120 days and 1 year postoperatively. 

Additionally, Soma Weight Loss patients can enroll in a weight loss support group, which helps with accountability and the healing process. Patients meet other bariatric patients and share stories, tips and advice. 

Contact us today to learn more about bariatric surgery and set up a free weight loss consultation in one of our three Los Angeles-area locations. 

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