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Extra Nervous After Word of Warning from my US Surgeon!



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So...I have a lap band. I never got to the "green zone" or optimal restriction, just increased unbearable heartburn with additional fills. I have insurance, and kind of fell into the revision process this December. My insurance requires the repeat of the 6 mos diet process again to submit for a revision to sleeve. I do not want to wait and take the chance of ultimately being denied. So, I have scheduled a revision with Dr. Illan in a few weeks. Everything is all set up. I told my lap band surgeon a couple weeks ago at my last appt. He seemed concerned but understood.

This morning I got a personal call from my lap band surgeon. He said his partner was in surgery as we spoke trying to fix a leak from a patient who had a sleeve done in Mexico. He said he was not trying to scare me, because he understands that I have to do what I have to do. He was just warning me that they see this regularly. He did not know the doctor or anything. So, I feel that I have done a good job, but am worrying now about the what if's due to it being a "revision" surgery of lap band to sleeve, and the possibility of a leak. It is scaring me now, and whether they REALLY REALLY REALLY check thoroughly before closing you up! I know they do leak tests during and after, but then how does someone get home and then have a leak!?!?! He did say, yes, it can happen to anybody. I am just wondering, scared and slightly second guessing. I can't afford to get back home and have complications and be in the hospital!

I have found one band to sleeve patient on here who went to Dr. Illan. I have heard all glowing reviews. I have phone conferenced with Dr. Illan and feel good. I don't want fear to hold me back. I don't want to wait until July/August to hope to have surgery and maybe be denied because there "technically" is no mechanical error with my band. I am ready to move on and find success NOW beginning of April, be several pounds down by summer, all healed up, and moving on with my life...not to mention over this heartburn!

Any words of wisdom and experience...especially of band to sleeve revisions would be greatly appreciated!

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Just like all surgeons in the US are not created equal, neither are all surgeons in Mexico. Just because someone had a bad experience with "some surgeon in Mexico" doesn't mean you are at any higher risk there than you are in the US. There are many FANTASTIC and fully qualified surgeons in Mexico. Dr. Illan is one of them. I am sure you have done your research in choosing him. And you can also take heart that BariatricPal has done their due diligence in vetting him before partnering with him. Don't get discouraged because of some vague anecdote about one patient's bad experience in Mexico.

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If what you want is assurances of this type of surgery being risk-free, that doesn't exist.

The best you can do is get as much feedback as you can from people who do have experience, i.e. reviews.

Edited by PatientEleventyBillion

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I worry about those too, but not just because of going to Mexico. Complications happen in the US too, and sometimes complications happen from patients not following proper post op care. If you Google or even look through the message boards here there are all kinds of stories of complications right here in the US because this surgery is not risk free. No surgery is. A young guy I went to college with just died from a routine outpatient gallbladder removal!

I've been researching doctors for over a year now and for me it always comes back to Dr. Illan. Now that he partnered with BariatricPal and they've vetted him, that just sealed the deal for me that he is one of the best Bariatric surgeons in Tijuana. And I would bet he would rank highly among Bariatric surgeons world wide.

I also feel more at ease having 4 days of monitored post op care. Here in the US you get discharged from the hospital after 24 hours and I feel like you're kind of on your own until your 1-2 week checkup.


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5 minutes ago, lnaj59 said:

I worry about those too, but not just because of going to Mexico. Complications happen in the US too, and sometimes complications happen from patients not following proper post op care. If you Google or even look through the message boards here there are all kinds of stories of complications right here in the US because this surgery is not risk free. No surgery is. A young guy I went to college with just died from a routine outpatient gallbladder removal!

I've been researching doctors for over a year now and for me it always comes back to Dr. Illan. Now that he partnered with BariatricPal and they've vetted him, that just sealed the deal for me that he is one of the best Bariatric surgeons in Tijuana. And I would bet he would rank highly among Bariatric surgeons world wide.

I also feel more at ease having 4 days of monitored post op care. Here in the US you get discharged from the hospital after 24 hours and I feel like you're kind of on your own until your 1-2 week checkup.

Transparency helps a lot.

The word of caution should come from simply Googling somebody and running off to get yourself cut up. Acts of desperation do happen quite often and that's likely where many of the bad results come from, whether it be surgery or not taking care of other issues first (i.e. psychological or physiological).

Before I joined the forum I heard of this being done in Mexico and was like, "no way in hell", but reading more and more about people's experiences with specific doctors helps a lot with trust building. One thing absolutely no one should expect is there to be no risks. Always be ready for potential complications.. hell, the very surgery papers you sign undoubtedly inform you of those risks.

So while I would still suggest when it comes to Mexico using a bit of caution it would really be no more than surgeons in the US. Given the importance of this surgery I'd go with any proven good Mexico surgeon than a random US one.

Edited by PatientEleventyBillion

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Hi, the word surgery by it self is pretty scary, especially if you have mix feelings of your previous procedure. Your lapband surgeon is correct, complications may happen, here or in the US. Be confident that my team and I will do things properly, following international safety protocols in a full service hospital and state of the art OR, looking to minimize any complication as low as possible. [emoji6]


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Sun Godess, As others have said complications occur even with the most qualified doctors. IMO, I would be more concerned with your heartburn issue and what this new doctor has to say about it. It is my understanding that heartburn can worsen with the sleeve if you already have it with the band. I was revised from band to sleeve and never knew what GERD was until now, which is another chance we take. I take Prilosec which is a PPI drug to control my heartburn and as you probably already know, there are concerns with long term use of PPI's. Just some things to discuss with him if you have not already done so. jake

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Thank you all! Everything you've said rings true. Although I know I'm taking a measured risk with surgery, I'm just nervous and hoping everything goes goes well. NoMoBand, you have a point. I have heard of heartburn with the sleeve. Unfortunately, I want this thing out, and know that for my greater long term health, I need a tool to help get me to a healthy weight. I have no health issues, other than being overweight, and do not want to be regretfully met by any because I did not get it under control. I hope the sleeve allows me to be successful.

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I will say that 3 years into being revised, I love the sleeve. Life is pleasantly different from banded life. Even with battling GERD, I have no regrets. Everything will go well and you will be much happier afterward. Let us know how it goes. jake

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I'm 9 months out and haven't had much of an issue with heartburn. I get it if I'm eating/drinking too many acidic things, but it's not often. I take a Prilosec and then i'm perfectly fine.

On the actual topic, I had Dr. Illan and it was the best experience I've had with a doctor. I was terrified going. I wasn't a revision patient, but it's nerve wracking either way. Specifically BECAUSE there is no guarantee. There is a risk no matter who the surgeon is or where it takes place. As long as you've mitigated the biggest part by finding a good surgeon, you significantly lower that risk. And you have! Dr. Illan is amazing.

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