Weight Loss Surgery - Considering WLS across boarder..Im Canadian

04-05-2013, 12:00 AM
Well here I am..feeling extremely hopeless at this point. Yes, I am not quite back up to the highest weight in my life but it feels as if my life has diteriorated to the point where there is no other option. I feel a lot of resentment towards my mother right now because back when i was 16, I saw an Endocrinologist who specialized in Womens Health and Obesity issues. She suggested to my mother that WLS was an option back then and that she strongly suggest I get the surgery.. My mother said "No". Well, now I am 27 and have been on almost every single diet imaginable and I have had every eating disorder in the book and every diet fad out there.

See, I have everything going for me right now. I am in University, getting my Doctorate in Youth Psychology. I am married, I have a wonderful daughter who will be 3 in July, we own our own home and I live in beautiful Canada in a small town where you have mountains and oceans surrounding you. There has always been one constant that remains. I am trapped inside the body of a fat person. I am an A+ student with a body that shows nothing to others except " Lazy, un-motivated, gluttonous,dumb". It doesnt matter how many good grades I get in school, or how great my personality is, I still get seen the same way, and the WORST part is. I see myself the same way. I have felt like a boy my whole life because others have told me that I am so fat and so big looking..being 6feet tall..that I could be another "one of the guys". So now I am a frumpy fat 27 year old mom who acts and looks like I am in my 50's ready for retirement.

So what is the point of all this?

Well..maybe the fact that I have succumbed to failure on my own and no matter what I try it never works. Maybe I have watched so many movies and documentaries and have heard of all the success of weight loss surgery and hope that somehow, some day ...somewhere. I will be able to recieve a life changing surgery that will help me regain my ability to be outdoorsy again and my ability to carry my daughter and my ability to walk longer without having so much back pain and be able to socialize more without worrying about being afraid to step out in public..For once. I just want this for me. Now its not for anyone else but me.

So here is the deal: I looked into WLS.. been doing my research. I keep hearing how people are going across boarder to Mexico for their WLS. I came across a website called "Beliteweight". You apparently pay up front if you are Canadian because its a private US company and basically you fly down to place you want to get your surgery done. So for example: If you are wanting to get the surgery done in Tijuana, then you would fly down to San Diego and then they would have a representative from there American Hospital drive you across boarder to their private hospital and you would get the surgery, and then they would drive you back over the boarder two days after you are clear to leave and then of course you would be responsible for flying home to wherever you are in Canada.

In terms of what I can afford..If i play my cards right...I can afford the Sleeve or possibly the Bypass. Problem is: I dont know what is best for me because I dont know what is going to give me the dramatic results that my body needs. Lets face it. I have been between 100-130 pounds overweight my whole life, I have a BMI of 46 i believe now.. and according to the lastest Cat Scan and Ultrasounds..my internal organs are being crushed by my body weight and I am apparently starting down the path of having Fatty Liver Disease..because they already see some areas on my liver that have quite a substantial amount of fat forming.. So..im unhealthy... and i need help..real help.

I guess what I want to know is:

-Are you Canadian? Did you go across boarder for your surgery?
-Was your care good?
-What kind of surgery did you have? What kind of results did it produce and over what period of time?
-Did you have complications?

I need encouragement people. I feel reeeeeeeally lost right now. This is my last hope to live.:(

04-05-2013, 05:14 AM
Hi. I read so much sadness in your post. You're younger, lighter, married, and have a child. You have alot that I really want! Especially the kid!
I know I dont know you, so I dont want it to seem like im judging you at all, but you gotta feel good about yourself on the inside!! Yes being overweight is depressing.. trust me I know. But you gotta keep your spirits up. Im 34yrs old, and pretty much never really dated anyone...I know I sound like a complete loser... yet that doesnt stop me from wearing makeup and doing my hair! lol. So lose that 50y/o frumpiness you spoke about, and do something FOR YOURSELF!! Something simple like a new hair cut, color makeup, mani/pedi does amazing things! lol

Anyway... I might not be the best person to answer your questions since I live in the US and I havent had surgery yet. But i'll do my best.

I know thousands of people have gone to Mexico but I wouldnt feel comfortable doing it (my sister was recently looking into it). The USA is my comfort zone...plus I rather meet my surgeon beforehand. Im currently in the process of booking a date for surgery and I would be selfpay since my insurance doesnt cover it.
My sister in law had the sleeve less than a yr ago.. Maybe 9 or 10 months? Shes lost 100+... and did I mention shes 6'2?? Taller than you! lol
She looks fantastic!
Im interested in the sleeve, because I feel its safer, and I dont feel comfortable about my body being "rewired". Plus there are malabsorption issues. But thats just me. Ummm. both the sleeve and rny have similar weight loss results. I think with bypass you lose just slightly quicker, but i personally rather have a slower drop. One of the surgeons told me you lose alot of weight at first, then you lose about 10lbs a month after that. My fear is a ton of excess skin which I know I cant really avoid, but I think a slower loss would help a little?

Surgeons have all different prices. I believe alot depends on which facility the surgery is performed at. If you prefer an US dr, then Id just do some research first. Maybe it would be worth it to go somewhere closer to the Canadian border. I've seen 2 surgeons and the prices ranged from 9900-17600. The 2nd price is so much because its a large hospital and $10000 of that money is for them.
There are financing companies like Medicalfinancing.com and carecredit.com that you can use if you want to finance. Different surgeons use different financing companies.
I know in Mexico they do all your pre-req tests done the day before surgery... which i think is crazy cause I'd hate to go down there and be told that I cant have surgery because of my bloodwork results. If you went to the US, you would need to find out their requirments (which is usually a clearance from your Dr, bloodwork, and possibly a nutrition class). You'd need to find out how that would work for you.
Good luck on your decision!!!!

04-05-2013, 06:14 AM
I completely understand the frustration and sadness in your post. I felt the same way and while WLS isn't without its own set of problems, I feel for the first time that maintaining a weight IS within my control.

While I'm not Canadian and can't speak to your available healthcare, are you able to see a doctor in your area about WLS? Each procedure has side-effects that you have to consider. The sleeve was not an option for me, as I had GERD and it can lead to greater acid reflux issues. After RNY, you won't ever be able to take NSAIDs, so if you have any arthritic conditions, it is not the path for you. Regardless, you want to have a physician on hand that will be willing to treat you after WLS. Not all physicians will treat a patient that had WLS outside the nation, so finding someone before your surgery is pertinent. They will need to take over your postop care, such as ordering labs and follow-up procedures (if they are needed).

Second, it sounds like the company you are looking into is just a mediator. Can I ask why you wouldn't just want to work with the surgeon's office 1:1? While I don't know anyone personally who had surgery done out of the nation, there are many people online that speak highly of the experience they had with certain doctors in Mexico. They worked directly with the office staff and just had to make their own flight arrangements.

With the program I went through, there was a lot of pre-op hoops to go through. Sleep studies, psych appts, tons of bloodwork/tests, nutrition classes, exercise classes, support groups, and on and on it went. However, I researched a lot in the process and learned much about my body (and the toll excess weight had taken on it) in the interim. I would encourage you to research all the procedures (there is also the DS, which while the most drastic of the four major procedures, also has the best long-term results) to see if you have any pre-existing conditions that would help narrow your decision down, while looking for a physician for your aftercare.

04-06-2013, 04:14 AM
While i can appreicate the idea of doing it in the US.. I just cant afford to pay between 10 and 14000$$$ The people who own the company and facilitate and arrange the WLS procedures work directly with the doctor. They essentially are receptionists who give you the information you need and schedule you in for the appointment and talk with you about the financials and what you need ect ect ect. I am a Canadian and I am not sure if you know just how bad it is out here for the wait on WLS. In terms of a procedure such as RnY or Sleeve, you are looking at a 5 year wait list. It is your only option for getting it covered by insurance. If you go through a private practice..you are looking at a couple of years as there are only 2 doctors who currently perform surgeries in BC and this is for private. They have no coverage or monthly payment plans available. I cant afford to pay more than 6-7000 $$$ because I just dont have the ability. My husband works in a grocery store and I am a full time student in University on student loans. The only way I can pay for this alone, is through my student loan..and yes I will have to pay it back one day, hopefully by then I will be successfull, healthy and slim and able to work full time at a career I love.

04-06-2013, 07:57 AM
I think maybe I wasn't clear. I do understand that the wait in Canada is long and that you are desiring to get the procedure done outside of Canada in order to speed up the process. However, you will still need a doctor for your care afterwards. You want to make sure you have one in place before you undergo WLS, because if problems develop, not every doctor will be willing (or able) to deal with them.

I also understand your desire to save money, hence my question as to why you would use a mediator, as it would seem you would pay more (as you'd be paying for that service). It appears from what I've read from others online that the reputable Mexican surgeons have office staff that speak English and do everything your mediator would as part of their program.

Just trying to help. I wish you luck.

04-06-2013, 12:26 PM
Why don't you get on the waiting list in Canada? They have you lose some weight before you have the surgery. If after a year or so you see there is still a long wait you will have more of your courses completed and then you can look at going outside the country. In Alberta while you are waiting you go on program with Alberta health with nutritionists etc. I don't know what the procedure is in BC.

04-06-2013, 06:30 PM
Hey Patns...no Im not going to even try for the waiting list..its 5 years long right now...and it doesnt cover the sleeve..it only covers RnY.

04-06-2013, 08:40 PM
It doesn't hurt to get on the waiting list now, and if you find another way you can do it sooner. However, if you don't get on the list, and you don't find another way, you won't have that option.

04-06-2013, 11:43 PM
Plus a doctorate degree in Canada is incredibly expensive which is the reason I don't have one although it would have helped greatly in my career. I can't see how you could pay for that and the surgery in another country. I wouldn't risk not being able to finish the degree.

04-07-2013, 01:52 AM
while on some levels i agree with you, patns, i gotta tell you that before my surgery, i COULD NOT have handled grad school. it's taken me YEARS, but i'm finally in a PhD program as well - but not before the weight was gone.

everyone is different - and it's a tough decision no matter what

04-07-2013, 03:18 PM
I am an A+ student. My schooling for my degree is delivered via Distance Flex Education...(you do your schooling at home from your own house and you have 7 months instead of the normal 3.5 months to complete the courses. So..im not concerned about time off)

There is no point of me getting my Doctorate if i am just going to end up dead before even getting it...Which is where i am at. Im going to die If i dont do something about my health and my weight now. I was given the option by a specialist at the age of 16 for surgery and my mother wouldnt even dare listen to the doctor about it let alone hear her out..and for years ive lived...but just barely lived. My weight has been my personal struggle, I barely made it through high school because I had attempted suicide 3 times between the age of 12-16 due to such a depression over my life and the weight i carried and the merciless teasing of other students. To this day.. I still am not treated by others the way I want to be. People still stare at me when i walk down the street. To everyone else I look like a Giant..6 feet tall and almost 300 pounds... Its like..I am trapped inside the body of a fat person..And my outer appearance even shows it that way. My best friend the other day said "When i look at your wardrobe and how you dress and how you look..I wonder who died" and this is my best friend talking...

I broke down last night and admitted that even though I am smart and witty...inside..im dying...I feel like I havent been living for years..

I know that surgery is not a cure..just like insulin is not a cure for a diabetic..i know it only helps in conjunction with other stuff in order to produce a desired result..But at this point..this is life and death. It has the power to transform a person who feels helpless and out of hope...to a person who feel like there is at least a little help...

Im sure you all understand what it is like to feel dead inside and stuck in a body you dont belong...

04-08-2013, 02:00 PM
:hug: :hug: i think you're incredibly brave and strong to be doing all this at the same time. i truly didn't have the stamina to go back to school until the weight was gone - and it broke my heart. i felt so stupid and dead-ended because of it. my mind was active but my body just simply couldn't keep up. it was HORRIBLE.

And i know what you mean about people's stares. And the rude comments of children and others. they simply can't see the fabulousness that is YOU.

And only you can make the decision about whether the PhD or the surgery comes first - or if the surgery interrupts the education, or whatever order things happen in.

It is very possible to have the surgery in Mexico without the mediator [as Zeitgeist pointed out]. but the real key in success is still back in Canada - in the hands of a surgeon and physician who are willing to handle your followup care. Mexico is certainly warmer than Canada throughout most of the year, but you sure don't want to be hopping on a plane every time you think something's going on with the surgery!

04-08-2013, 06:01 PM
It is very possible to have the surgery in Mexico without the mediator [as Zeitgeist pointed out]. but the real key in success is still back in Canada - in the hands of a surgeon and physician who are willing to handle your followup care. Mexico is certainly warmer than Canada throughout most of the year, but you sure don't want to be hopping on a plane every time you think something's going on with the surgery!

Thank you Jiffy for supporting the points I was trying to make.

OP, I don't think anyone is dismissing the stigma and hopelessness that comes with being morbidly obese. Many of us have been in the same depressed state you are currently struggling with.

However, in your haste for WLS, please don't forget what your ultimate goal is...health. A surgeon, based on your medical background and health, should ultimately help you make the decision as to what is your best option. You might not even realize you have additional health issues. For example, I have been diagnosed with Barrett's Esophagus, a precancerous condition that requires a yearly endoscopy. I had NO idea I had this. The sleeve would have been counter-indicated with this condition and could have made the condition worse. A reputable surgeon, in or out of Canada, will make sure you have a thorough battery of tests to determine your health risk and best choice for WLS.

Further, while I hope you never suffer from any post-op complications, the truth is that things happen you can't predict. Without a plan in place for your aftercare, you are putting your health at risk. And, again, if WLS is to improve your health, why would you forego this step?

I'm not trying to cause you frustration. But I also agree with the other posters to get on the waiting list in Canada while pursuing other options. Five years is going to pass regardless and you might as well have a back-up plan in case your current one falters.

04-08-2013, 11:59 PM
BTW, i just noticed that no one has addressed the specific Qs you asked:

Are you Canadian? Did you go across boarder for your surgery? - NO and NO
-Was your care good? I've always heard that the care was excellent - i suppose, though, that screening the surgeon and the facility is essential. I think some of the MExican surgeons are members of asmbs, which would help
-What kind of surgery did you have? What kind of results did it produce and over what period of time? this depends mostly on the patient - there are some things that can happen that can make the weight loss better or worse, but these are very individual
-Did you have complications? this is something you'll have to ask each and every surgeon no matter where you have your surgery.

04-09-2013, 06:36 PM
To answer your questions...

-Are you Canadian? Did you go across boarder for your surgery?

I am, and I did. I had VSG surgery on March 5th of this year in Tijuana, Mexico with Dr. Pompa.

-Was your care good?

It was amazing. The staff and surgeons are very warm and caring, and very attentive. I felt like I was in the best of hands at all times.

-What kind of surgery did you have? What kind of results did it produce and over what period of time?

As I mentioned about, I had the VSG, and I am only 1 month out so far. I did a 1 month long pre-op prior to surgery and the month before that, I started cutting things out of my diet (fast food, etc.) in preparation for the pre-op. So in 3 months total, I have lost over 60 lbs.

-Did you have complications?

I did not have any complications. And my particular surgeon has had 0% serious complications in over 1 years. She is amazing, which is why I chose her.

You say that you can only afford $6000-7000 at the most for surgery. If that is the case, then I would suggest you put your plans for surgery on hold until you are in the position to afford proper care. Mexico is one of the best countries to get WLS. They have some of the world's leading bariatric surgeons and centres. But there are also a lot of surgeons who have no right touching a patient. I know that there are clinics that will do the surgery for $5000-$10000, but frankly, you are being irresponsible if you are putting your finances ahead of your life. The reason that many of these places can offer the surgery for less money is because they use inadequate equipment that is cheaper in cost. For example, some of these so called "surgeons" use veterinary grade staples instead of medical grade surgical steal. Some people may not understand the significance of this, but as a health care professional, it is down right scary.

My surgery cost me close to $14,000. Could I afford it? Heck no. I took out a medical loan through medicard and took the remaining amount out of my RSP's. By the time everything is paid back, it will have cost me about $20,000. But I did what I had to do to get the surgery, because for me it was not a life changing procedure, it was a live saving procedure. I put my health before anything else, including my finances, and it's hard having to come up with that extra money right now. But it has been SO worth every penny. I would do it all over again in a heart beat.

I know it sounds harsh, but I can not stress the importance to you enough...do not put a lesser value on your life. If you decide to go ahead with surgery, you do your research and find the best possible surgeon. Then you work towards getting the money together...whether it be through financing or waiting a year or two to save save save. Because if you choose a surgeon based on a lesser cost and NOT the best possible outcome, you may find yourself very sorry that you did it.

04-09-2013, 10:40 PM
I have done a lot of research on surgeries in Mexico and care facilities and the different surgeons and their background. I feel very confident in the surgeon and the hospital I chose. There have been many forums where I have browsed and seen people who have had the same procedure done at the same place that I was looking at doing mine. So i feel good about it now..Its not cheap..but considering that I averaged out the cost of me being obese to averaging a cost of 25,000$ over a period of 5 years..I think its going to save me some money in the long run..

04-10-2013, 05:09 PM
Hi Porthardygurl -
I am currently in the program through Dr. Sampath & Dr. Nguyen in Richmond which is a fantastic program which requires you to meet with a dietician, a occupational therapist, and a kinesiologist through the 'Physical Activity Line' (Free service for British Columbian's - check it out). Currently their waitlist for MSP funded options (both sleeve and RNY) are around 2 years for surgery.
As I am sure you've heard before, the amount of mental and physical work that helps to ensure long term success takes time. I am going through a 12 week course right now through the surgeon's office called 'Changeways" that helps to identify and change disorted and negative thinking, goal setting and stress management, and healthy and sustainable lifestyle management.
Perhaps in the mean time while you explore options, getting involved with Dr. Sampath & Nguyen would at least preserve the local and free options for yourself should you consider them in the future.
I empathize with your situation, I am as well a grad student and costs were a serious obstacle, however just going through the surgeons office (westcoastbariatric) has totally changed my behaviours and mindset and things have become so much easier and clearer resulting in a 22lbs lost in 8 weeks. Hopefully I will have surgery this summer and all the work that I have put in ahead of time will serve me the rest of my life. I wish you all the best