Like most of you, I've struggled to maintain a healthy body weight since I was a teenager. I've probably lost (and regained!) 1000 lbs in my life. At my highest weight (282 lbs) I had high blood pressure, asthma and frequent prolonged periods of excruciating osteoarthritis pain. I knew I could lose the weight again. I'd done it so many times before! But I knew the statistics (very few morbidly obese people manage to lose significant amounts of weight and keep it off) and I knew I needed a permanent solution.
Despite the fact that I'm a former RN and hospital/healthcare administrator (and have even worked in the healthcare insurance industry, I tried for years to get my WLS covered by several different health insurance plans but was unsuccessful. I was ready to schedule a date for lap band surgery in the US at the cost of $18,000-$25,000 when I discovered a much better and affordable option.
I had my vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG) or sleeve done by Dr. Alberto Aceves of the Mexicali Bariatric Center a year ago. At the time of surgery I weighed 243 lbs. My weight is 155 lbs today. My goal is 135 and I'm still losing at the rate of 1 to 1-1/2 lbs per week. I had absolutely no problems post-op and today can eat or drink anything I want in small amounts. I'm rarely hungry and have no cravings for sweets, fatty foods, fast foods or anything unhealthy. Food is no longer my priority.
I feel the sleeve is better than the band or bypass for several reasons: no risk of slippage or erosion; it's permanent (some will see this as an advantage or disadvantage); no need for fills; no risk of dumping; less risk of nausea, vomiting or diarrhea; reduced hunger and cravings; reduced need for supplements.
The sleeve has been performed since 2002. It's more available in Mexico than in the US. Studies show that patients lose 70-80% of excess body weight, comparable to bypass patients. Longer term outcome data isn't available yet.
Especially because I worked in the healthcare field for 25 years, many people are appalled I'd take the risk to go to Mexico for surgery. If you research your surgeon thoroughly, make certain he's board certified and belongs to professional organizations in the US, has done an adequate number of surgeries, has a low complication rate, etc. your risk will be no greater than with a surgeon in the US and you'll be paying 1/3 to 1/2 the cost. I also tell people there's no way I could have bought the kind of care I received in Mexico for any amount of money in the US! This is a safe and affordable option for people who can't get their WLS covered by insurance in the US.