Traveling abroad for gastric sleeve surgery can provide you with cost savings of up to 70% compared to the U.S. and Canada. Jet Medical Tourism® specializes in gastric sleeve surgery and provides the weight loss procedure at multiple locations in Mexico. Our all-inclusive gastric sleeve surgery packages offer qualified candidates the opportunity to save up to $15,000 compared to the higher costs in the U.S. and Canada.
Gastric sleeve surgery, also called laparoscopic vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG) is a bariatric procedure and has become a top choice for those who suffer from obesity. During gastric sleeve – about 60 to 80 percent of the stomach is removed. The remaining 20 to 40 percent is reshaped into a small pouch that’s the size of a banana. The new stomach doesn’t hold nearly as much food, and this restriction results in significant and sustained weight loss.
Contact Jet Medical Tourism® today to schedule your affordable gastric sleeve surgery.
Gastric sleeve surgery table of contents
Gastric Sleeve Surgery in Mexico can provide a very effective long-term treatment for obesity-related comorbidities. That’s why we’ve created the Ultimate Gastric Sleeve Surgery Guide. Read along, email this page to yourself or a friend for later, or jump to the section that interests you most:
Chapter 1 – Gastric Sleeve
1.1 What is a gastric sleeve
1.2 Gastric sleeve history
1.3 How does gastric sleeve promote weight loss?
1.4 How is gastric sleeve surgery performed?
– Surgical technique during surgery
– What is a bougie?
– Does bougie size predict sleeve size?
– Is gastric sleeve surgery safe?
1.5 Advantages of gastric sleeve surgery
1.6 Disadvantages of gastric sleeve surgery
Chapter 2 – Cost & Insurance
2.1 Gastric sleeve cost comparison
2.2 Cost for gastric sleeve in Mexico
2.3 Cost of gastric sleeve surgery without insurance?
– Factors that determine cost of gastric sleeve without insurance
2.4 Gastric sleeve surgery cost by geographical location
– Compare self-pay cost of gastric sleeve in U.S. and Canada
– Financial benefits of medical tourism in Mexico
2.5 How much does gastric sleeve cost with insurance?
– Insurance that covers gastric sleeve surgery
– Insurance coverage varies by state and provider
– Insurance requirements to be eligible for gastric sleeve coverage
– Variables that determine final cost of gastric sleeve
– Weigh the benefits of gastric sleeve again the cost
Chapter 3 – Side Effects
3.1 Side effects of gastric sleeve surgery
– Hair loss after gastric sleeve
– Nutrition deficiencies
– Gastric dumping syndrome
3.2 Other side effects related to gastric sleeve
– Difficulty swallowing
– Kidney stones
Chapter 4 – Complications
4.1 Gastric sleeve complications
4.2 Complications after gastric sleeve surgery
– Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
– Gastric sleeve stricture
– Ulcers after gastric sleeve
– Hernias after gastric sleeve
4.3 Early complications after gastric sleeve
– Stomach leaks
– Staple line bleeding
– Blot clot
– Abscess formation
– Wound infection
What is a gastric sleeve?
Obesity is a public health issue that affects over 70 million Americans. People with a BMI of over 30 are more likely to suffer an early death compared to their lower-weight counterparts. They are at a higher risk for numerous health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and many others.
- Gastric sleeve surgery (also called sleeve gastrectomy) is an approved weight loss surgery for those with a BMI of over 35. It involves creating a smaller stomach in order to promote a feeling of fullness. Typically conducted on adults who are considered obese, gastric sleeve works on the basis that people can feel full on only a small amount of food. Thus, their caloric intake is radically reduced, which ideally leads to long-term weight loss and improved health.
- During gastric sleeve, the stomach is stapled into a smaller pouch via an incision in the stomach, after which the excess stomach is removed. Typically, the surgeon will remove about 80% of the stomach though this will vary among patients.
- The leftover “sleeve” of a stomach, which is typically around the size of a banana, can hold up to 5 ounces of food. Because patients are only able to eat small amounts of food, they typically lose weight quickly because of the lower caloric intake.
- But it’s not only the size of the stomach that promotes weight loss. As the stomach is permanently restructured, the hormone signals that are transmitted between various organs and the brain tell the body that it no longer needs food.
- After gastric sleeve surgery, there is typically dramatic weight loss in the first year; however, the rate of weight loss tends to slow over time.
One of the questions that people often ask is about the differences between gastric sleeve vs gastric bypass surgery. A gastric sleeve shrinks the stomach rather than changes the structure of the stomach as in gastric bypass.
Overall, a gastric sleeve surgery is less complicated than gastric bypass and therefore has a lower possibility for complications. However, depending on your specific conditions, a health care professional may recommend gastric bypass instead of a gastric sleeve.
Both procedures have been proven effective mechanisms for weight loss. Bariatric surgery, in general, is one of the best solutions for long-term weight loss. Though it does require the patient to commit to long-term lifestyle changes, it can significantly improve a person’s lifespan and quality of life.
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The history of gastric sleeve surgery
It wasn’t until the 1990s that weight loss surgeries came on the scene as legitimate options for weight control in obese patients. The first gastrectomy had officially been performed some 25 years earlier, but at that time these types of surgeries were undertaken for the purpose of cancer treatment.
After noting substantial weight loss after such procedures, a surgeon from the University of Iowa, Dr. Edward E. Mason, proposed that they would be tested for obesity treatment. Before this, surgeries designed to treat obesity had side effects such as liver failure and diarrhea, amongst other severe problems. It was this, in part, that led Dr. Mason to develop the technique of Vertical Banded Gastrolatry, which eliminated the challenges of a bypass.
Other medical professionals experimented with various restrictive procedures. However, it wasn’t until the gastric band technique was developed in the 1980s that the procedures became much less complicated. Also, post-operative recovery time and side effects (such as ulcers) were minimized. An Ohio surgeon named Dr. Doug Hess undertook the first open sleeve gastrectomy in 1988.
In the U.S., gastric surgery first became a procedure covered by insurance in 2010, and at the time it was only covered by a single company. Since then, most other insurance companies have added it to their list of approved surgeries. As more surgeries took place over the years, doctors recognized that gastric sleeve surgery could offer the most promising weight loss results for obese people with a BMI of over 40.
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How gastric sleeve promotes weight loss
Gastric sleeve surgery works on weight loss in a few different ways. Primarily, as the size of the stomach is reduced, the amount of food that a patient is capable of eating is smaller. This results in a patient “feeling” full, despite the fact that they have most likely ingested about a tenth of the amount of food that they’re used to eating.
But the effects are more profound than just shrinking the stomach. When a part of the stomach lining is removed, it means that there is less potential for the ghrelin hunger hormone to be produced. Ghrelin, a hormone produced in the stomach, is what tells our bodies that they need food. Though there are a few different hormones and other signaling pathways responsible for hunger, ghrelin is the main one that is affected by gastric sleeve surgery.
In the majority of cases, gastric sleeve surgery helps to stabilize insulin levels, blood lipid levels, and blood pressure, all of which can positively contribute to a stable food intake cycle.
Ghrelin is a hormone that 1) stimulates appetite, 2) leads to an increase in food consumption, 3) reduces metabolic rate and 4) promotes fat storage. It is produced and released mainly by the stomach with limited amounts by the small intestine, brain and pancreas. It plays a key role in regulating human body weight.
Gastric sleeve and change in metabolism
After surgery, it is a combination of hormonal signals that start notifying the body and brain on a consistent basis. So not only do we think we’re “full” more quickly, but the body also adjusts over time to these signals, which in the longer term changes a patient’s entire metabolism. Removing part of the stomach changes the way your body responds to hunger. This means that we not only are physically changing the way we react to food intake, it also means that our brains can change the way they respond to hunger and satiation.
Highly restrictive diets tend to make the body think that it needs “more” calories, thus changing the metabolism for the worse over time. On the other hand, studies show that gastric sleeve surgery patients are happier emotionally and socially. And they show notable improvements in mental health, all of which can further aid in the ongoing commitment to healthy eating and nutritional balance.
This change in metabolism also contributes to a positive feedback loop when it comes to improving other weight-related problems such as sleep apnea and type 2 diabetes. A recent study showed that those who had bariatric surgery had lower death rates than those who opted out of the surgery.
This result is primarily due to the fact that weight loss lessens the potential for other health problems to severely affect our health. And even when weight loss is not as significant in one person as it is in another, metabolism still improves, which means that risk factors will drop as well.
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How is gastric sleeve surgery performed
Gastric sleeve surgery is also known as laparoscopic vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG). It is proven to be an effective method of long-term weight loss for those who are obese. The surgery is relatively quick but does require general anesthesia. After a patient has been anesthetized, the surgeon will make a series of small incisions and insert a laparoscope with a tiny camera on the end. Now able to see inside the body, the surgeon makes a vertical incision in the stomach and three-quarters or more of it will be removed.
Surgical technique during surgery
The surgeon uses a surgical stapler to close the sleeve of the stomach, removes the excess part of the organ, and the remaining stomach takes the shape of a vertical tube or “sleeve.” For the most part, the stomach will continue to function as usual.
Unlike other types of surgery, there is no major disruption to the form and function of the stomach, which means that there is less potential for side effects and other complications. It does not change the way in which we absorb and digest food in a significant way — the main change is that we must eat smaller amounts and sometimes may be more sensitive to different types of food.
This surgery is generally recommended for those with a BMI of 35 to 40; however, in some instances, it may be the best option for people outside of this range. For those struggling with appetite control, it’s important to understand your alternatives. While there are other options besides a gastric sleeve, if you are seriously considering this procedure, you should know the two types available.
The most common is laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy (LSG), but there is also something more invasive called an Endoscopic Sleeve Gastrolatry (ESG). They mainly do the same thing but involve different surgical techniques.
An LSG is the less invasive type of surgery. During this procedure, a doctor will make several small incisions in the stomach as a part of the reduction process. It’s generally very quick and has fewer complications. Your recovery time is a few weeks.
An ESG, on the other hand, involves putting an endoscope into the stomach via the patient’s throat. The doctor then puts another tool down the person’s throat and sutures the stomach together from there.
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What is a bougie?
If you are preparing for gastric surgery, you may hear surgeons talking about a “bougie” and wonder what it is. A bougie (pronounced BOO-zhee) is a long tube that surgeons use to help them as they are doing surgery to staple the stomach together.
The thin, flexible tool is both a guide and a measuring instrument. Through the surgery, a bougie is inserted down the esophagus through the mouth. Eventually, it reaches the pylorus, the valve at the bottom of the stomach that helps the stomach empty itself.
The bougie essentially creates a bump which helps to guide the surgeon around as they operate. It will ensure that the surgeon is in the right place, and will be used to measure the part of the stomach that will be removed.
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Does bougie size predict sleeve size?
Bougies come in various sizes and are usually described in a unit of measurement called a French (F). A single French is .33 mm and generally for bougies sizes used in gastric sleeve surgery will range from 32 to 50 F. If a surgeon uses a smaller bougie, it generally means that they are looking to create a smaller stomach. But it’s important to note that the size of the bougie is not always directly related to the size of the resulting stomach. What is more important is how accurately the surgeon performs the operation.
The bougie size will be different depending on your needs, where the surgeon determines the safest size for you. This choice will sometimes depend on the amount of weight loss you are aiming for. The problem is that with a smaller bougie, you have a higher risk of leakage. Strictures (scar tissue) may also form more easily with a smaller bougie, and this will require further surgery.
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Is gastric sleeve surgery safe?
No surgery is 100% guaranteed safe, and you should be wary of any professional surgeon who tries to make that claim. Typical complications from any surgery include reactions to anesthesia, problems with blood clots and infection. This type of surgery comes with a small, though notable, risk of scarring and leakage.
However, the risks of bariatric surgery for weight loss are much lower than the risks that come with a lifetime of obesity, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and high blood pressure.
Gastric sleeve surgery is simple and non-invasive, which means that complications are less likely to arise than in more invasive procedures like bypass surgery. The possibility for adverse side effects or complications, which would require follow-up surgery, is also decreased. It’s safer than bypass because there’s no chance of ulcers or obstruction. In either case, you’ll want to consider the potential negative or difficult post-surgery outcomes as you prepare for this major life change.
Dumping syndrome, a situation which can create severe diarrhea and associated symptoms, is a possible side-effect of bariatric surgery, but it is typically less likely to happen with gastric sleeve surgery. At its most severe, dumping syndrome can end up in extreme weight loss and malnutrition if the body is not absorbing any nutrients. It’s also extremely uncomfortable and may cause a person not to want to leave their house.
Both types of surgery result in weight loss, though bypass surgery typically results in quicker weight loss. But in some instances, bypass surgery may still be recommended over a gastric sleeve.
A study out of Stanford University took into account nearly 270,000 bariatric surgeries, 16,000 of them were gastric sleeves. The complication rate was under 1% versus over 1% for gastric bypass. It’s also worth noting that people who already have health complications such as those commonly associated with obesity are more likely to face issues during surgery.
Your doctor will help you weigh the risks and benefits of your particular case versus surgery and will determine the right course of action for you.
READ THIS: Is gastric sleeve surgery safe?
Advantages of gastric sleeve
There are many benefits to gastric sleeve surgery. Of course, the key goal is that a patient feels less hungry so they eat less and lose weight. But there are other advantages and positive side effects.
- Changes to Metabolism: You may think that this type of surgery reduces hunger just because you “can’t” eat more with a smaller stomach. But with a smaller stomach wall, it means that you produce less of the hormone that causes hunger in the first place, ghrelin. Thus, in many cases, metabolism will speed up permanently, and patients will have more energy along with a higher quality of life.
- Fast Weight Loss: Many people turn to this type of surgery as it is typically successful in helping people lose a significant amount of weight in a short period of time where most people see continual weight loss through the first two years.
- Short Procedure: Typically, these types of surgeries take less than two hours, which is an hour shorter than the time it takes to perform a gastric bypass.
- Clean & Simple Procedure: Unlike lap band surgery, which involves leaving a band around the stomach, gastric sleeve surgery doesn’t require leaving anything inside the body. It is widely considered a safe and effective procedure because it is simple, minimally invasive, and does not typically need any follow-up surgeries.
- Better Vitamin and Mineral Absorption: Though there will likely be a need to supplement the diet with protein, vitamins, and minerals because of reduced food intake, typically gastric sleeve surgery does not affect your body’s ability to absorb nutrients to the extent that gastric bypass surgery does.
- Less Chance of Dumping Syndrome: Post-surgery dumping syndrome or gastric emptying can occur if a patient eats too much or consumes it too quickly. This occurrence is very common for bypass patients but less common in gastric sleeve patients.
- Weight-Related Illnesses Improve: Diseases like diabetes, sleep apnea, hypertension, joint pain, and even the risk of some forms of cancer may all be reduced because of the weight loss caused by gastric sleeve procedures.
Disadvantages of gastric sleeve
While most of the disadvantages listed here also happen with gastric bypass surgery, it’s important to note that for some patients like those with severe GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), gastric bypass may be a better option.
- Non-Reversible Surgery: Unlike lap band surgery, this surgery doesn’t have any follow-up options for reversal.
- Sagging Skin: During rapid weight loss, most people will experience sagging skin. This appearance may be improved via cosmetic surgery.
- Complications: While complications are less common than with a bypass, there is always a small possibility for strictures (scar tissue), bleeding, and leaks. The most likely one of these is a leak, which one study suggests happens in 2.1% of patients. Blood clots can occur as well, but this is a risk with any surgery.
- Digestive Problems: Though dumping syndrome isn’t as much of a problem with gastric sleeve surgery as it is with bypass surgery, many people will feel some stomach upset as a part of normal post-surgery symptoms. This feeling will typically improve over time. Nausea, food intolerance, GERD, and dyspepsia (indigestion) are a few other common side effects.
- Weight Regain: Research shows that this happens to about 1 out of every 20 patients after two years and the number is higher after year six. However, this tends to only occur for those patients who don’t follow a strict dietary and wellness plan.
- Nutritional Deficiencies: A smaller stomach is less able to absorb vitamins and minerals, and this can sometimes lead to nutritional deficiencies. Your doctor will likely recommend that you supplement your diet for calcium, B12, and iron.
- Hair Loss: This is normal for many patients after gastric sleeve surgery and is believed to be the result of a sudden lack of vitamins and minerals that derives from a drastic reduction of the volume of food you are eating. It is only temporary and typically lasts from 3 – 6 months.
Are you ready to change your life?
Patients who undergo gastric sleeve surgery must be prepared to change their eating habits for the rest of their lives. While this may not seem like the ideal solution at first glance, the truth is that for individuals who are either obese or morbidly obese, bariatric surgery often offers the best possibility for a longer, healthier, and happier life.
Typically, patients who undergo gastric sleeve surgery drop at least half of their weight, and keep it off via a careful combination of personal training, support groups, using a food journal, ensuring adequate support networks, and paying close attention to their overall lifestyle.
While it’s certainly not a decision to make lightly, the truth is that the majority of patients who undergo gastric sleeve surgery report not only significant weight loss but also a notable improvement in their lives. Gastric sleeve patients are physically healthier than expected during the years after the surgery, and they tend to be more content both emotionally and socially.
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Gastric sleeve cost comparison
Gastric sleeve surgery is a highly sought after form of bariatric surgery, a type of procedure wherein the size and shape of the stomach is changed to facilitate weight loss. One of the main reasons the operation is so popular is because of how effective it is, with patients losing up to 80 percent of their excess body weight within a year of the procedure.
But many people who are considering gastric sleeve worry that the cost might be too high, and don’t know where to look for accurate information about pricing. This resource will tell you everything you need to know about the cost of gastric sleeve, including price comparisons in different countries, how insurance coverage can impact the cost and the financial benefits of going to Mexico for your surgery.
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Cost for gastric sleeve in Mexico with Jet Medical Tourism®
Jet Medical Tourism® is an organization dedicated to helping Americans and Canadians access affordable and first-rate medical care in Mexico, and this means you pay less for bariatric surgery without sacrificing quality of care.
The cost of a gastric sleeve in Mexico is already a fraction of what you’d pay in Canada or the U.S., and Jet Medical Tourism® provides affordable prices and high standards of care.
Through Jet Medical Tourism®, the cost of gastric sleeve surgery in Mexico starts at $3,999, and that includes the procedure being performed by a trusted and experienced surgeon in a modern facility.
Plus, scheduling gastric sleeve surgery in Mexico through Jet Medical Tourism® is an inclusive package, meaning there are lots of extras already included in the cost, such as:
- Bilingual speaking medical team
- 2-nights hospital stay
- 1-night hotel stay post surgery
- Pres and post-op lab work
- Leak test
- Medication in Mexico
- Ground transportation from the airport and around the city
What is the cost of gastric sleeve surgery without Insurance?
Although there are health insurance companies out there that offer coverage for weight loss surgery, this isn’t the case with all of them, and patients who want to explore this option will want to know the out-of-pocket costs associated with the procedure.
The cost of gastric sleeve surgery is different in countries around the world, but the average cost is roughly $13,500 if you compare prices in Canada, Thailand, United States, Australia, Costa Rica, and India.
In the U.S. and Canada, the average cost is around $20,000, though it does vary widely by region or by state and province. However, it’s possible that insurance may cover some of the costs associated with the surgery, depending on the claims your doctor submits to the insurance companies.
For instance, although your insurance may not cover bariatric surgery or related tests, the hospital may submit some exams and tests through insurance using a general code, and that makes it more likely they’ll be covered.
Extra evaluations could include lab work, cardiology tests, a medically supervised diet, and other pre-op requirements before you undergo gastric sleeve surgery. Although this won’t cover the entire cost of the procedure, it will mitigate the final price.
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Factors that determine the cost of gastric sleeve when you don’t have insurance
Many different factors play into the cost of gastric sleeve surgery, and they include location and hospital, pre- and post-op costs, and the type of surgery, which are among the most influential factors.
Here’s some more information about these and other factors that will impact the cost of gastric sleeve operation for non-insured patients:
Location and hospital: Geographical location is likely one of the most significant factors that will affect the cost of sleeve surgery, but even the location of the hospital can change the total bill. Hospitals all charge fees for hospital services, gastric sleeve surgeons, assistants, anesthesia, and also operating room use, but these fees differ from hospital to hospital, so finding one that charges lower prices will result in a lower total cost.
Pre- and post-op costs: Not only will these depend on the hospital or clinic you choose, but also on how many tests, exams, and the extent of pre-op preparation required before your surgery. Some typical examples of pre-op costs include a medically supervised diet and nutritional consultations, heart exams, blood work, a mental health assessment, and possibly even a sleep study. Common post-op costs include vitamins, new clothes, gym membership, follow-up medical exams, plastic surgery, and the medical costs associated with any complications that might arise after surgery.
Type of surgery: Gastric sleeve is typically available as an outpatient or inpatient surgery, and these two types of treatments have different impacts on the cost. Because outpatient (day surgery) operation doesn’t require an extended hospital stay, it will be more affordable than inpatient, which has higher hospital and medical fees.
Discounts and financing: Some hospitals or surgeons offer discounts to patients who are paying for surgery out-of-pocket; also called self-pay gastric sleeve cost, and the best way to find out is to ask. However, if your surgeon doesn’t offer discounts, then you’ll be responsible for covering the total cost of the procedure. On a positive note, there are financing options available, but this too will impact the cost of gastric sleeve surgery.
Here are some common financing options for self-pay patients:
- Credit cards
- Bank loans
- Personal (family or friends) loans
- Medical loans or medical credit cards
- Home equity loans
- Private loans
The financing option you choose is important, but there are opportunities to save money. For instance, if you pay for the surgery with a credit card but can’t pay off the entire balance immediately, then you’ll also be paying interest on top of the surgery.
On the other hand, if you raise funds through friends and family who won’t charge interest, then you could save yourself a great deal of cash.
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Gastric sleeve surgery cost by geographical location
As mentioned above, one criterion impacting the cost of gastric sleeve is the facility’s location. Countries around the world have different standards, fees, regulations, and more, and this can lead to some drastic differences in price when it comes to bariatric procedures.
On average, the cost of a gastric sleeve in countries around the world is:
- $14,000 in Australia
- $12,000 in the United Kingdom
- $10,000 in India
- $10,000 in Costa Rica
- $11,000 in Thailand
- $5,700 in Mexico
Compare self-pay costs of gastric sleeve in the U.S. and Canada
The country you choose isn’t the only regional consideration you’ll have to make; the cost of a gastric sleeve can vary widely by geography even within a single country. For instance, although the average price for the procedure in the U.S. is $19,000, which differs from state to state.
- In southern states like Oklahoma, Texas, and South Dakota, the average cost of gastric sleeve is around $12,000, but in northern states like Massachusetts, the cost is closer to $30,000.
- In Alaska, the cost of gastric sleeve is the highest of anywhere in the country, coming in just under $60,000.
- In Canada, national healthcare does cover gastric sleeve surgery, but the average wait time can be as long as five years, and many patients are unwilling to wait this long. For patients who want faster access to surgery, they can opt to self-pay at private clinics or with certain surgeons.
- The average self-pay cost in Canada is around $19,000, but that can range anywhere from $11,000 to $20,000.
The many benefits of medical tourism in Mexico
An increasing number of Americans and Canadians who don’t want to spend exorbitant amounts of money on bariatric surgery locally are exploring medical tourism in Mexico. But there’s a myriad of reasons to opt for gastric sleeve in Mexico beyond the affordable cost, including the high quality of care, the low wait times, and the beautiful setting.
Standard of care: Even though the cost of services are lower in Mexico, the medical care you’ll receive is top-of-the-line. There are many reasons why medical procedures cost less in Mexico, including lower wages, fees, equipment costs, rent, medications, education, and even insurance, and all this translates to substantially lower prices for medical care. However, during the process, you will be in the capable hands of trained and board-certified surgeons who have access to modern facilities, the latest equipment and technologies, and the newest techniques.
Wait times: Going to Mexico for gastric sleeve surgery means you can have your procedure performed within a couple of weeks of having started the process. Because you’re using private hospitals and clinics, you get fast access to healthcare and can arrange the gastric sleeve according to the needs of your schedule, rather than the availability of the surgeon or clinic.
Location: Mexico is a beautiful country with incredible natural features, stunning architecture, and breathtaking views, which is why so many people choose it as a vacation destination. Thanks to the natural, geographical, cultural, and historical beauty of the country, medical tourism in Mexico is booming and the country is an ideal destination for medical treatments, whether you choose to have your surgery in Tijuana, Cancun, Monterrey, or Guadalajara.
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How much does gastric sleeve cost with insurance?
Gastric sleeve is covered in Canada by universal healthcare, meaning you don’t have to pay for the procedure, as long as you don’t mind sitting on the waiting list for several years.
In the United States, many insurance plans cover weight loss surgery such as gastric sleeve, but there are still some out-of-pocket costs you might have to cover that vary by the insurance provider and from plan to plan.
Patients who do have insurance coverage for gastric sleeve pay an average of $3,500 to have the procedure performed in-country. Depending on your specific plan and the state you live in, it’s possible that the cost of gastric sleeve with insurance won’t cost you anything, because the insurance company will cover it all.
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What types of insurance cover gastric sleeve surgery?
Unfortunately, not all insurers or plans cover weight loss surgery, and it can be daunting to pore over insurance policy information to determine if your particular plan offers coverage.
However, there are some general insurance rules you can use to help figure out if your insurance covers gastric sleeve surgery, including:
- Both Medicare and Medicaid cover the procedure, but it should be noted that a surgeon doesn’t have to accept it, so you’ll have to ask your chosen medical practitioners about this
- In many states, the Affordable Care Act dictates that weight loss surgeries must be covered, so if you have insurance under Obamacare, then the operation is likely covered
- Work medical insurance may cover weight loss surgery, depending on the plan your employer has set up.
- The best way to figure out if your insurance covers gastric sleeve is to discuss it with your human resources representative or an insurance agent from the company providing your coverage
Insurance coverage varies by state and provider
Insurance is different across all states, and that includes the cost of premiums, deductibles, what’s covered and what isn’t, and more. When it comes to weight loss surgeries and procedures like a gastric sleeve, coverage can be affected by where you live and who provides your health insurance.
For example, if you live in New Hampshire, Indiana, Maryland, or Georgia, then surgery will likely be covered. Those states recommend or require that insurance providers cover surgical treatment of morbid obesity, and that includes weight loss surgeries like a gastric sleeve.
There are also four other states that are considering passing laws that require insurers to cover bariatric surgeries, and they are Louisiana, South Carolina, Ohio, and Tennessee.
However, this doesn’t mean insurers in other states don’t provide coverage for bariatric surgery, because many of them do, and the best way to find out if your particular insurer offers coverage for these procedures is to contact an agent.
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Insurance requirements to be eligible for gastric sleeve coverage
Even if your insurance plan does cover gastric sleeve surgery, you will likely still have to meet specific eligibility requirements before your insurer will agree to pay for the surgery.
One of the most common criteria is that you complete a medically supervised diet before the surgery, so you’ll have to consult a physician about starting a diet.
Another requirement is that you have a body mass index (BMI) above a certain number. For most insurance companies, your BMI has to be 40 or over to qualify. If your BMI is below 40, however, your insurance may still cover gastric sleeve surgery if your BMI is above 30 (or 35 for some insurers) and you have obesity-related comorbidities present as well, such as:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Sleep apnea
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
Variables that will determine the total cost of gastric sleeve
As mentioned before, even if your insurance covers gastric sleeve, you may still be responsible for covering certain costs associated with the procedure. The total costs will depend on your situation, your insurance provider, your surgeon, and other factors.
One of the most significant costs you might have to worry about is the insurance deductible, which can be as high as $7,500 for gastric sleeve surgery.
You may also have to pay for a pre-surgery health assessment, which could involve blood tests, heart tests, x-rays, and more, and there might be a fee associated with the medically supervised detox that your doctor will recommend.
Other costs that you might be responsible for that will impact the cost of gastric sleeve surgery include:
- Hospital fees and co pays
- Operating room fees
- Costs for surgical assistants
- Anesthesia fees
On the other side, some factors could reduce the amount you have to pay for the procedure, and chief among them is any self-pay or other discounts you’re able to negotiate with your surgeon, doctors, and clinic.
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Weighing the benefits of gastric sleeve against the cost
With how expensive gastric sleeve surgery can be in Canada and the U.S., many patients wonder if the cost is worth the results they’ll see. But the truth is that even if you opt for a gastric sleeve procedure in a more expensive region, the surgery is still well worth the cost, regarding finances, health, and overall quality of life.
Patients who undergo gastric sleeve surgery can expect to lose up to 80 percent of their excess body weight within a year, and this means you’ll have the dream body and lifestyle you’ve been wanting.
Beyond that, the weight loss you’ll experience will also help to improve or resolve comorbid health issues like diabetes, sleep apnea, arthritis, heart disease, high blood pressure, and so much more.
And as the symptoms of these health problems dissipate, you’ll require fewer visits to the doctor and fewer medications, and this means your improved health will have a beneficial effect on your checkbook.
In other words, bariatric surgery will pay for itself within a few years, and possibly sooner, depending on how much it currently costs you to treat any obesity-related diseases you’re struggling with.
The cost of bariatric surgery varies from country to country, and even within a single country. The price can differ immensely depending on the state or province and the location of the hospital. On average, it will cost an American or Canadian about $19,000 to have gastric sleeve performed in their respective countries, though many insurance companies offer coverage for these procedures, which could mitigate the cost. That said, people who are underinsured or uninsured would find the cost of bariatric surgery prohibitive.
Furthermore, there are other people yet, especially in Canada, who can’t afford to wait several years to receive treatment. For patients in these situations, medical tourism to Mexico for gastric sleeve is a great alternative, because the procedure there is much more affordable.
There are companies like Jet Medical Tourism® that can help you plan your trip, arrange financing options, and put you in touch with some of the best bariatric surgeons in Mexico.
Bariatric surgery can be expensive, but the benefits that gastric sleeve surgery will have on your health and your finances in the future make the procedure well worth the cost today.
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Weight loss after gastric sleeve surgery
Weight loss after gastric sleeve surgery varies among patients because everyone has a different body mass index (BMI) due to different heights and weights. Clinical studies show the following averages:
- 65 to 80 percent excess weight loss per national averages over 18-24 months after sleeve gastrectomy.
- 55.4 percent excess weight loss reported in 24 studies (follow-up periods were 3-60 months).1
- 66 percent excess weight loss reported in a clinical trial (follow-up period was 36 months).3
- Most gastric sleeve patients can expect to lose 25-30 pounds in the first month after surgery and reach their weight goal within 9 months post surgery.
Health benefits of gastric sleeve surgery
Research supports the health benefits associated with with gastric sleeve surgery. The following table shows obesity-related health problems that were resolved or improved due to sleeve gastrectomy procedures.
- Have you been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or sleep apnea? If yes, undergoing gastric sleeve in Mexico may help you resolve or improve these medical conditions.
|Health Problem (Comorbidity)||Resolved||Improved|
|Type 2 Diabetes||56%1||37%1|
|High Blood Pressure||49%1||29%|
|Obstructive Sleep Apnea||60%1||33%|
†Medical terminology defines “resolved” as removing all known symptoms and signs of the condition or disease. Medical terminology defines “improved” as reducing the known symptoms and signs of the condition or disease.
Who should have gastric sleeve surgery?
Vertical sleeve gastrectomy is typically used as a two-stage procedure for high-risk patients who are morbidly obese or have health problems (e.g., severe heart or lung disease) and do not qualify for gastric bypass.
- For these types of patients, the vertical sleeve gastrectomy is an option to help them start losing weight from the first-stage of a two-stage procedure. After several years, most patients lose enough weight to complete the second stage with gastric bypass surgery or duodenal switch surgery.
- The laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy is also being used as a weight loss surgery in lower BMI patients as an alternative to gastric banding and gastric bypass.
- However, this is a recent trend that’s being conducted as part of an investigational protocal for patients with lower BMI’s. It is recommended that you talk with your bariatric surgeon to determine which procedure is best for you.
Side effects of gastric sleeve surgery
Most gastric sleeve side effects can be avoided if you follow the guidelines provided by your surgeon and nutritionist.
While gastric sleeve surgery may change the size of your stomach, it’s up to you to change your food choices, eating habits and lifestyle. The best way to lower your risk of side effects after gastric sleeve is to follow your surgeon’s advice.
Every patient is different and may experience some side effects that others may not, and vice versa. Below is a list of potential side effects you may experience.
Transient Hair Loss
Hair loss is a very common side effect after gastric sleeve and can occur in up to 40 percent of patients. Research shows hair loss is most often caused by the reduction in nutritional and vitamin intake, specifically protein and iron deficiencies.
The rapid change in calorie and nutrient absorption shocks the body initially, and hair loss last about six months. Almost every patient starts to regrow hair within 3 to 6 months after having the gastric sleeve. Here are some tips to help you control hair loss after gastric sleeve surgery.
- Eat protein
Supplement your bariatric diet with more protein, preferably plant-based (e.g., beans)
- Take bariatric vitamins
B vitamins, B12, biotin, zinc, folate and calcium citrate.
Because your stomach is smaller, you will eat less food and absorb fewer calories and nutrients. You can avoid deficiencies if you maintain proper nutrient, mineral and vitamin levels in your diet. Common nutritional deficiencies include:
- Calcium deficiency
Calcium is not absorbed well after vertical sleeve gastrectomy. It will be necessary to take daily calcium supplements.
- Vitamin B12 deficiency
B12 is poorly absorbed after vertical sleeve gastrectomy surgery. It will be necessary to take a daily supplement of vitamin B12.
- Iron deficiency
This is more common in menstruating women, but can occur in any patient. A daily supplement is recommended if you lack iron. All patients who undergo vertical sleeve gastrectomy should have their iron levels checked.
Gastric Dumping Syndrome
Gastric dumping syndrome is most likely to develop if you’ve had gastric sleeve surgery. Dumping syndrome happens when the undigested food and juices of your stomach are rapidly “dumped” into the small intestine.
Common symptoms include diarrhea, nausea and abdominal cramps. Patients can manage the symptoms by modifying their diet.
The side effect is more common in patients who had gastric bypass surgery. However, gastric sleeve surgery also increases your risk of dumping syndrome which can develop within weeks after the procedure.
Patients with sever cases of dumping syndrome after gastric sleeve may experience noticeable weight loss and malnutrition. The discomfort related to dumping syndrome may cause patients to develop a fear of eating or to avoid outdoor physical activities in order stay close to the toilet.
To help minimize gastric sleeve side effects, here are some dietary tips that you can put into action on your own:
- Modify your diet
Try to avoid foods and drinks with high sugar (milk contains lactose sugar and may cause dumping syndrome). Eat more food rich in protein (meat, fish and chicken). Plant-based protein is a healthy alternative to meat protein.
- Avoid fluids with meals
Don’t drink fluids “with” meals. Avoid drinking fluids 30-minutes before and after a meal.
- Eat small meals
Eat six small meals throughout the day rather than three larger ones.
- Chew food slowly
Chewing breaks your food down from larger pieces to smaller pieces so its easier on your intestines to absorb nutrients and energy from the food particles as they pass through your digestive system.
- Take vitamins, iron and calcium
Nutrition deficiency is a common side effect of gastric sleeve surgery.
Other side effects of gastric sleeve surgery
Formation of gallstones after gastric sleeve surgery are common side effects that patients experience. Gallstones are small, hard deposits of cholesterol formed in the gallbladder when there is an imbalance in the bile. Sometimes, gallstones can cause symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. About 10 to 20 percent of patients have their gallbladder removed after gastric sleeve surgery.
Dehydration is a common side effect of gastric sleeve surgery and occurs when your body looses too much water. This results when you do not take in enough fluids or lose too much fluid from vomiting or diarrhea after gastric sleeve surgery. Dehydration can lead to further health complications after gastric sleeve and you need to take it seriously. You should drink at least 2 quarts of fluids each day.
Dysphagia, a medical term for “difficulty swallowing” is a side effect associated with restrictive surgeries like gastric sleeve. This happens when you eat too fast, too much or do not chew your food enough for the smaller stomach. As a result, food backs up into the esophagus and causes chest pressure or tightness in the throat. This can be avoided by chewing and eating slowly.
Kidney stone disease is a hard object made from chemicals in the urine. Urine is made up of various wastes that are dissolved in it. When the amount of waste is greater than the amount liquid, crystals begin to form and attract other elements. They join together to form a solid that continues to get larger unless passed out of the body through urine. Symptoms include severe pain, blood in urine, nausea or vomiting.
How to prevent kidney stones after gastric sleeve surgery:
- Limit foods containing oxalate (nuts, black teas and dark leafy greens)
- Decrease sodium (salt, processed meats and packaged foods)
- Read nutrition labels on every product you purchase.
- Cut out red meat and explore more plant-based protein (beans such as lentils)
Gastric sleeve complications
The potential for gastric sleeve surgery complications do exist, as with any surgical procedure. Its important that you consider the risks and benefits to help reduce your chance for obesity-related diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular and high blood pressure, to name a few.
Research shows that the risks and complications associated with gastric sleeve are about 5% to 10%, post-surgery. This is less than the risks linked to the duodenal switch or gastric bypass procedure.
We understand that choosing the right surgeon for gastric sleeve surgery can be a difficult decision. Because of this, we have carefully selected top-rated surgeons with extensive experience in bariatric surgery. In fact, our team of surgeons use the latest surgical procedures, techniques and technology to ensure optimum results for you.
Complications after gastric sleeve surgery
Potential long-term complications after sleeve gastrectomy can include, but are not limited to:
Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies
Nearly 30 percent of patients who have bariatric surgery are at risk for anemia, osteoporosis and metabolic bone disorders because of micro-nutrient deficiencies in iron, folate and vitamins B12 and D.
Laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy patients are prone to nutrient deficiency complications because the new, smaller vertical sleeve leads to a decrease in food intake and a lack of gastric acid (smaller sleeve contains less digestive fluid).
- First, the smaller stomach allows patients to eat less food. When less food is eaten, the caloric intake is reduced. A decrease in calories consumed from protein, fat and carbohydrates reduces macro-nutrient levels. The reduction in nutrient levels throughout the body causes nutritional deficiency.
- Second, the production of gastric acid is reduced by removing a portion of the stomach called fundus. The fundus is located in the upper part of the stomach and is responsible for producing gastric acid. Gastric acid is required for vitamin B12 absorption.
Furthermore, gastric acid in the stomach is also important for maximum use of nutrients (e.g., iron, calcium) and protein digestion. To avoid nutritional deficiencies, patients should eat a gastric sleeve diet and take bariatric vitamins.
Malnutrition is a health condition caused by a lack of micro-nutrients (vitamins and minerals) or macro-nutrients (calories from protein, fat and carbohydrates). There are several types of malnutrition.The most basic type is called protein energy malnutrition. It results from a diet that lacks energy and protein due to a decrease in all major macro-nutrients.
Other types of malnutrition result from vitamin and mineral deficiencies (micro-nutrients). Gastric sleeve patients may develop malnutrition because they take in too few nutrients or their body is unable to process the nutrients that they do take in. Signs of malnutrition complications after sleeve gastrectomy surgery varies but normally includes fatigue, dry skin, weakness and dull or brittle hair.
Stricture or narrowing of the new vertical sleeve may occur on the staple-line and can cause further complications. A gastric sleeve stricture detected suddenly after surgery can normally be treated with bowel rest and re-hydration with intravenous fluids. These types of strictures will automatically resolve with no need for further invention.
In contrast, a chronic stricture may require surgical treatment such as endoscopic dialation, stenting or conversion to Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. Symptoms of sleeve stricture include food intolerance, difficulty with swallowing, nausea and vomiting.
Ulcer formation after weight loss surgery, mainly gastric bypass surgery can be a complication. Ulcers occur in about 2% to 4% of patients. Symptoms may include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting of blood or black stool (occurs weeks after surgery). You can prevent ulcers by not smoking, avoid anti-inflammatory drugs and aspirin and take prescribed acid-reducing medication.
Patients may develop a hiatal hernia after gastric sleeve at the site of the incision. A hernia is is any abnormal opening in the stomach wall, or protruding of the abdominal wall. Because the surgeons perform laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy vs. open surgery, the incisions are smaller, and the risk of hernia is decreased.
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Gastric sleeve complications early after surgery
The sleeve gastrectomy has its own risk profile. It is important for you to understand the following gastric sleeve surgery complications that can occur before and after surgery in Mexico.
Staple-line leaks are serious, but infrequent complications related to gastric sleeve surgery. If the incisions along the staple-line are not sealed properly, stomach fluid may leak into the abdomen causing an infection or abscess.
The surgeon will check for leaks in your new vertical gastric sleeve by filling it with air and the abdomen with saline. If air bubbles are detected, the staple-line is reinforced to reduce the chance of a leakage. Symptoms of stomach leaks include upper abdominal pain, increased heart rate and sense of anxiety or increased shortness of breath.
Bleeding from divided edges along staple-lines is another potentially serious complication associated with gastric sleeve surgery. An important factor in prevention of bleeding is the technical integrity of the staple-line itself – especially the appropriate “height” of staples relative to the “thickness” of the tissue being stapled.
Causes of Staple-Line Leaks
Two risk factors that cause staple-line leaks include increased gastrointestinal pressure and failure of the stapling device itself or incorrect choice of stapler for the tissue being divided. At Jet Medical Tourism®, our surgeons use advanced technology to ensure safe and effective surgery outcomes.
Blood Clot After Surgery
A blood clot in the legs or lungs (pulmoonary embolism) is a potential complication during and after gastric sleeve surgery. Patients may develop blood clots in their legs during recovery in the hospital. Compression garments and walking short distances will help prevent blood clots, which can be deadly if they travel up to the lungs or brain.
Abscess formation may occur after gastric sleeve surgery. This happens when a pocket of fluid builds up inside the stomach. The fluid may become infected which creates an abcess if bacteria exists. Symptoms normally include abdominal pain, fever, chills or nausea and vomiting.
Infection can occur after sleeve gastrectomy, but the risks of an incision-site infection is low if you follow postoperative instructions. This may require treatment with antibiotics or repeat surgery.
Injury to Abdominal Organs
Any key-hole, laparascopic surgery can lead to complications by unintentional injury to the bowel or other abdominal organs (e.g. spleen or liver). This may require a repeat surgery of the damaged organs.
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Possible risks for sleeve gastrectomy
If you’re considering vertical sleeve gastrectomy, we encourage you to discuss the benefits and risks with your surgeon.
Risks Related to Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery
Risks and Complications After Gastric Sleeve Surgery
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