May 2015

Medical tourism for bariatric surgery? Trust only Europe

Obesity is a major global health problem. The World Health Organisation estimates that worldwide obesity has doubled since 1980, with more than 1.4 billion adults, 20 and older, being overweight, and of these nearly 500 million being obese. Obesity causes many epiphenomenal health problems such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders and even increases the likelihood of certain forms of cancer (breast, colon and others) (ref. 1). 

Yet bariatric surgery is generally not accepted by insurance companies as a valid procedure for coverage, leaving many people who suffer from obesity unable to afford treatment.

The rapidly growing global industry of medical tourism has been an answer to many similar situations — where treatment is unavailable to patients for either financial, ethical, or a combination of reasons.

However, there are risks to medical tourism and not all claims made by medical tourist destinations are as truthful as they would have you believe. It is imperative that patients consider the quality of healthcare at the destinations they are choosing, examining the history and tradition of healthcare and experience wherever they choose to undergo their procedures (ref. 2).

Obesity treatments, more specifically so-called bariatric surgery, involves various procedures such as a gastric sleeve. This procedure tightens the stomach — limiting the quantity of food that can pass through. This makes the patient feel fuller faster and limits overeating. Such procedures are commonly done throughout the western world, but can be dangerous if not done properly.

To give an example, recently, an American patient who sought bariatric surgery in Mexico was left in a life-endangering situation after the surgeon had tightened the sleeve too much, allowing too little food in. The patient was left to practically starve to death, as scar tissue from the botched surgery further sealed the opening between her oesophagus and her stomach. In the end she required several additional procedures in the United States to save her life (ref. 3).

However, medical tourism is not dangerous on principle. It is just the all-important question of where you choose to go. The Obesity Action Coalition, a large American institution aimed at battling obesity and its consequences, states that the only legitimate, suitable and safe destination for medical tourism for bariatric surgery is Europe (ref. 2). This is because European healthcare is considered amongst the highest quality in the world.

So, if you’re considering medical tourism, you should choose a European country which will provide a perfect balance between an uncompromising quality of healthcare and an affordable price — a country such as Czech Republic.

There are high quality clinics located throughout the Czech capital of Prague, which will provide high quality obesity treatments and more, and all this in a gorgeous central European city. Please find more information through top medical tourist agencies, such as Medical Travel Czech.