Bariatric Surgery has emerged as a reliable treatment option for obesity, a medical condition that has acquired epidemic proportions. Health insurance in India has taken cognizance of the health benefits of the surgery and is now covering this surgery with certain caveats.
Recent news articles state that doctors advise patients not to seek bariatric surgery overseas. There have been increasing instances of some patients seeking emergency treatment due to complications after surgery once they have returned to their home country.
ClinicSpots, a leading medical tourism company in India, sought the opinion of Dr Harsh Sheth, a top bariatric surgeon in Mumbai, on this issue. He states, ‘Bariatric surgery is a purely elective surgery requiring a certain level of skill and competence to perform. Therefore, patients travelling abroad for bariatric surgery must research the surgeon and the surgical facility before commuting to surgery at that center. In addition, patients and their families should zero down on hospitals recognized as Center of Excellence, and/or have the NABH and JCI USA accreditation.
With medical tourism gaining ground, people seek to travel to other countries for bariatric surgery at cheaper costs and save as much as possible. The initial consultations happen virtually, while in-person clinical diagnosis is conducted when the patient arrives at the chosen hospital for the surgery.
Mostly, young men and women in their 40s are lured to seek cheaper bariatric surgeries overseas. The reason is the prohibitive costs (more than €15,000) and long public health waiting lists in their home country.
As mentioned earlier, bariatric surgery is an elective procedure, but the treating doctor has to give a go-ahead after clinical evaluation, which includes the patient’s mental health. The patient must additionally undergo diet restrictions a couple of weeks before the surgery and be mentally prepared for surgical intervention.
The commonly performed bariatric surgeries are Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy. The surgeries lead to an alteration in the various facets of the digestive system, resulting in weight loss. Therefore, most doctors recommend bariatric surgery when patients have serious health issues, while diet and exercise have not yielded desired results.
He cautions patients keen to go ahead with bariatric surgery not to fall prey to hollow promises such as discounted rates, additional surgery at no extra cost, and same-day discharge offers. Centers that aren’t certified or are willing to offer the surgical treatment without adequate prior preparation should raise a red flag. Bariatric surgery is a life-altering procedure that requires a certain amount of expertise and attention to detail. Patients should make efforts to research properly, check out for accreditation of the hospitals or surgical centers and determine whether they follow the most internationally recognized bariatric surgery protocols.
Dr Harsh Seth guides patients on the required protocol before scheduling their bariatric surgery and a trip to India for the same. The patients will need to follow the advised protocol for Bariatric Surgery which is a minimum of 1-week pre-operative liquid diet followed by surgery and a minimum seven day stay in the city where the patient has been operated, as most patients develop surgical complications within this time frame. Hence, they should make their travel plans accordingly.
Dr Harsh Seth shares a story of a patient from Bahrain who approached him for weight loss and bariatric surgery treatment. She was 98 kg with a BMI of 38.2 kg/m2. She had diabetes, high blood pressure and was unable to conceive children naturally. She approached Dr Harsh Sheth for an online consultation, following which, after following all procedures, flew down to Mumbai for surgical treatment three days prior to the date of surgery. She underwent a laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and was discharged 24 hours after the procedure. However, she insisted on leaving Mumbai 72 hours after the procedure. However, Dr. Harsh did not recommend it and requested her to stay on till postoperative day 7. However, she did well post-operatively and was given a fit to fly certificate on her post-operative day 7.
About Dr Harsh Seth
Dr Harsh Sheth is one of the leading bariatric surgeons in Mumbai with ten years of experience. He is a consultant in advanced laparoscopic and bariatric surgery in many hospitals in Mumbai. He has successfully performed basic and advanced gastrointestinal surgeries through the minimally invasive approach. He is a warm and friendly doctor who wishes to resolve the health issues of obese and overweight people suffering from multiple health issues.