Quite a few people have asked me about my experience at Mexico Bariatric Center in Tijuana and I want to share the entire experience as it was extremely hard for me to get a full review from the last year or so. I also wish I would’ve written this on day 3 and not day 7 as the farther away from your surgery date you get the more romanticized the process is. That being said, here is everything that I know. It is a bit long, but for those of you who want all the facts, here is my experience.
I reached out to MBC on the 3rd of January and by the 5th of January I was already e-mailing back and forth with Krisit. I completed the patient questionnaire online and was approved within 12 hours. From then on, I was on a text string with Kristi asking questions about the process, getting my personal loan approved (I went through Discover as I’m paying mine off of in 8 months), and scanning in photos of my passport and flight itinerary. Scheduling was SO EASY and I was scheduled to fly in on Wednesday, January 17th and fly out on Sunday, January 22nd.
As for choosing a surgeon everyone has different opinions on their process. They have 4 different surgeons who operate out of Mi Doctor hospital in Tijuana and to me, I wasn’t tied to any specific person. The most experienced surgeon of course will have a higher coast, but when dealing with your life few people care about an extra 500 dollars. I was set with Dr. Rodriguez who is the newest of the group, but I am always of the opinion that the newer the team member the harder they work and the newer their techniques are J In all, with my flight, 2 extra nights at the hotel for my companion, 2 nights in the hospital, surgery, all follow up, all medicine, and ride to and from the airport/through the border my surgery cost me about 5,500. Being that my research in Dallas, Texas was going to be at least 12,500 + unforeseen costs (thank you anesthesia) *I also had a 650 revision charge as I had the lapband in and out in 2014 and 2017.
I flew in early on the 17th and landed in San Diego Int’l around 10:30. Victor was already waiting for me and another person, so the 4 of us were driven through the border check point. It was about a 30 minute process and he had lots of great advice for us as we went. We were dropped off at the hospital which looks like a typical hospital. No, it’s not the multi-million dollar facility you see in big cities, but let’s be real—do you pay for good care or do you pay for the look of a building? Don’t let that influence a decision. When I arrived there were about 4 people outside in gowns and about 30 cars that lined the street. The hospital is older but well kept, and they have a small café downstairs for your companion.
Once there, we were pulled all over the place. They ran an EKG to make sure your heart is healthy, pulled about 4 vials of blood, and had you sign a few pages making you aware of the risks/possible outcomes. Then you meet briefly with someone to zero your balance and tell you when you are scheduled to come in (typically the following day, typically between 7 and 10 in the morning). Then they shuttle you to the hotel. All in all that took me about an hour in total.
The hotel is very nice, clean, and a place I would choose to stay again if in Mexico. I splurged for the 2 nights for my boyfriend so he could work from the hotel room and it was wonderful to have that as homebase. The hotel offers you as many cups of broth and cups of jello as you want—as that’s all you can eat at that point!—and then they take your luggage to your room and you are left to your own devices. The beds are okay—I have a temperpedic so nothing so the same J but the hotel has a full kitchen, all utensils, a TV with English channels (find Cinecinal), and great wi-fi.
I woke up the next day and took my suitcase with me. They shuttled me and 2 other people and took us up to our room by about 8:30 with a surgery time of 10-11. I will say one thing MBC gets things done. It’s a business, so don’t forget that—and there are what seems to be dozens of people coming in and out of different stages as the days go on. That being said, you get incredible care and there are always people to help, support, or answer questions. You are taken to your room, which is something I’ve never had in an American hospital (it had always been a bed and a curtain), that has a bed, maybe a 2nd one for your companion, a table, shower, bathroom, sink, and mirror. They take your vitals and have you change into a gown and put on those awful compression socks. Then you wait. I spoke with the internal medicine doctor, my surgeon, and multiple nurses. They put in my IV which sucks but hey, it’s part of the process!
By 9:30 they were wheeling me back to the operating room. I didn’t have my glasses on so I could see very little, but it was a small operating room down the hall with about 5-7 people. They have you step up onto the operating table and ask you a few questions. If you don’t speak Spanish expect to be lost—I speak a little so I could kind of follow along but remember, you are in MX not the US. There was no countdown, no reminders, just I was listening and then I was out. Next thing I knew I was waking up next to 3 people in the recovery room.
Personally, I HATE waking up from anesthesia. I hate it. I always panic because I don’t have my glasses, and everything is fuzzy. This was even harder because I couldn’t see and couldn’t understand anything. I remember very little during this time, but was back in my room/my bed by noon. From then on it was extremely fuzzy. I was tethered to an IV rod, and while I wasn’t in pain because of the medications, I wasn’t feeling that great. I had to sleep on my back which I hate, the pillows are not comfortable at all, and I felt really alone. Again, this is my extreme hate for anesthesia manifesting, not a reflection on the hospital. The nurses were wonderful and came in every hour, kept a monitor on, brought me ice chips when I needed them, and kept the lights off/door shut so I could rest.
I let my boyfriend come over at 4 o’clock and they tell you to use your spirometer to work on breathing – AND USE IT! Every hour for about 5-10 minutes I would be sucking into that thing. It hurts. A lot, but it infinitely helps your recovery process. I used it every hour from 4 o’clock on the 18th until I left on Sunday the 22nd and by then nothing in my body hurt. Worth it. Do it. In addition, they tell you to walk as much as possible because it helps the process AND IT DOES. Walk, often. I set up my IV rod in the middle of my room and walked around the bed, bathroom, wall, etc. every hour or two for about ten minutes. I would sit in the chair and use the spirometer. I’d walk up and down the hall a few times a day. Yes, you should recover and sleep as much as you need, at the same time the more ambulatory you are the better off you will be.
The nurses checked on my every hour on day one. I was NOT happy. It hurts to breathe, it hurts to move, and it hurt to sleep on my side which I’m so used to doing. Because I slept away the day I was up every hour or so during the night. I threw up twice because of the pain medication and doing that after having your stomach cut is never fun. I cried, quite a few times, but slept away most of the day. The nurses brought pain medication every 6 hours and nausea meds every 8. Antibiotics were given at different intervals—all of this made my IV and my arm very cold which was uncomfortable, but I left healthy and pain free so I can’t complain too much. They changed my bandages once at the hospital and I changed them one at the hotel.
After having the lap-band in and out, I already had a handful of scars on my stomach so I wasn’t much worried about scaring. That being said, the incisions they made were TINY and so perfect. I had 4 small incisions, none larger than ¾ of an inch, and one small vertical incision where the port/drain tube was stitched in. I am 7 nights out and tonight I took off my bandages as all of the incisions have scabbed over and are healing perfectly. I am IMPRESSED and so happy that I chose Dr. Rodriguez.
Friday the 20th, the day after my surgery, was better, a million times better, but it was also hard in its own right. They changed the bandages, my IV was ruined so they had to use my other hand and my veins were tiny and easy to miss, and they removed the drain which was a blessing and a curse. After surgery you have a long tube (I think 1-2 feet?) inserted into your body to drain excess fluid. They tape it to your side, stitch it in, and connect it to a plastic draining cup that they dump every few hours. It is a big source of discomfort on day one and two, and is SO WERID when they remove it. It really didn’t hurt to remove it and it happens so fast. Don’t watch it. It’s gross.
At the end of the 2nd night they gave me liquid medication to help me sleep and it was GLORIOUS. Between having the drain tube out, being on day two of recovery, and getting a full night’s sleep I felt ready to leave the hospital. On day two they also give you small bottles of Gatorade, water, and apple juice. Try to drink 1 oz every hour as you need to feel what your stomach feels like with such small pieces at a time. I thought I would be hungry after not eating anything for 5 days, but my hunger hormone was pretty much nonexistent. It was amazing.
The doctor discharged me that morning after checking on me and answering all of my questions, and I was shuttled to the hospital with about 5 other people. Again, this is a business so expect to have multiple people/companions with you any time you are outside of your hotel or hospital room.
By Sunday at 9 a.m. I was back in the hotel and ready to relax. I felt good. I was drinking 6 oz of fluid every hour, I had to pee every hour, and was excited to sleep on my side in my ‘own’ bed for the day. My boyfriend and I walked down to the pharmacy (which is located in the hotel) and picked up cleaning soap and medical tape, and then walked to the Wasabi restaurant. They have amazing miso broth and amazing shitake mushroom broth. I was excited to feel normal after 48 hours of the hospital. He had seafood soup, lol. I wasn’t hungry, but the shrimp looked good!
I slept and read for most of Saturday and was in bed with the lights out by 8 o’clock. I felt fine, took a shower that day, and was still using my spirometer while walking around the hotel room/hotel floor. I cannot state enough how kind and helpful the hotel staff was—it is like they are an extension of the hospital as they have lots of the information you need. At 11 o’clock on Sunday we were packed and ready to go. The driver came to pick 7 of us up and drove us through the medical lane across the border. All in all it took about 45 minutes to go from the hotel through the check point. We passed with no issues.
From there, it was another 15 minutes to the airport and we were off! My plane left about 3:30 so I sat and watched a football game while drinking water and cranberry juice. I still wasn’t hungry, but I was missing the act of eating/drinking. That part so far is the hardest. I flew back with a little nausea and a slight headache though I hate flying almost as much as I hate anesthesia—so that could be chalked up to me and not the surgery.
I took Monday off not because I felt I needed to but because I needed to do all the life things I didn’t do while in Mexico. By Tuesday I was back at work without any issues and my coworkers/family have no idea where I spent my long weekend J I was drinking 65 oz of fluids by day 5, and was drinking creamy fluids by day 6. I have also easily tolerated soft foods (soups w noodles, yogurt, etc.) as well as a few tough foods (granola, protein cookie). My incisions are healed completely without any issues, and I have lost 17 pounds since in 3 weeks. The coolest (and weirdest) thing is that I feel full. I chew/swallow slowly and am full after a small portion. I don’t feel hungry often, and when my stomach does ache it is typically because I haven’t drank my 8 oz of water for that hour. After 20 years of over eating and storing food and buying fast food to eat it quickly I am weirded out by this new process and it has only been a week. I’m excited for what is to come J
I hope this (incredibly long) 2500 word essay was helpful and clear. I would absolutely without a doubt recommend MBC and will gladly answer any questions you may have!
Height: 5 feet 4 inches
Starting Weight: 260 lbs
Weight on Day of Surgery: 260 lbs
Current Weight: 243 lbs
Goal Weight: 140 lbs
Weight Lost: 17 lbs
Surgery: Gastric Sleeve
Surgery Status: Post Surgery
First Dr. Visit: 01/17/2018
Surgery Date: 01/18/2018
Hospital Stay: 2 Days
Surgery Funding: Financed
Insurance Outcome: Not covered