Frequently
Asked Questions

Weight Loss Surgeries

  • Why would I consider weight loss surgery in Mexico?
  • Getting your surgery done in Mexico can be less expensive than getting it in the U.S. if you are paying out of pocket. Weight loss surgery can be tens of thousands of dollars in the U.S., not including follow-up care such as nutritional support. You can get your surgery, including pre-op testing, accommodations, and two years of follow-up nutritional support, done with BariatricPal Hospital MX for a fraction of the cost. Even if your insurance covers weight loss surgery, you might choose surgery in Mexico because the final cost to you is lower. For example, your co-pay in the U.S. could be high, or your insurance policy may not cover the specific type of bariatric surgery you want. Or, your health insurance policy may have a one-bariatric-surgery-per-lifetime limit, and you may need a revision.

  • Which surgeries and other procedures are offered through BariatricPal Hospital MX?
  • We know each patient has individual needs and preferences that affect the best choice of weight loss surgeries for him or her. We offer the following bariatric surgeries:

    • Gastric Sleeve or Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy
    • Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass
    • Mini Gastric Bypass
    • Gastric Bypass Revision
    • Gastric Sleeve Revision

    We also offer cosmetic and skin removal procedures that can improve your self-confidence and quality of life:

    • Mommy Make Over
    • Brazilian Butt Lift
    • Tummy Tuck
    • Breast Lifts
    • Lipo
    • Arm Lift
    • Thigh Lift
    • Botox
      • Many more
  • Who is eligible for weight loss surgery?
  • We believe bariatric surgery is an obesity treatment option that should be accessible for everyone who might benefit from it. For that reason, you are eligible for our program if you meet the criteria for weight loss surgery and you agree to our requirements. These are standard criteria for weight loss surgery eligibility:

    • BMI over 40 or over 100 lbs. overweight or BMI over 35 plus one or more obesity-related comorbidities such as heart disease or diabetes.
    • History of failed serious diet attempts.
    • Willingness to follow the strict diet required after surgery
    • No alcohol or drug abuse or dependence
  • I’ve never been to Mexico or traveled much.
  • That’s okay. We are here every step of the way, starting with helping you get your passport or other necessary papers for traveling. We pick you up at the airport, take you across the border to and from Mexico, and are available for you 24/7 while you are in Mexico. Our staff speak perfect English so all of your needs are met.

  • Why should I choose BariatricPal Hospital MX for my surgery in Mexico?
  • With over 340,000 members and counting, we have earned the trust of the weight loss surgery community. We know what it is like to be in your shoes, and we strive to keep your experience stress-free by providing full support.

    In terms of medical care, we provide the best. Our fully licensed and credited physicians have many years of experience in the field. BariatricPal has met each of them and continues to work with all of our team members for one goal – to give you the healthiest weight loss surgery possible. BariatricPal truly is your friend in bariatrics.

  • How do I know I will get the best care?
  • We hand-pick the surgeons that make up our team and continue to work with each surgeon and facility to make sure they provide you top-notch care. Our team consists of leading surgeons in bariatrics, with many years of experience.

    From the moment you are picked up to the moment that you are dropped off, you are in our care. That is a responsibility that we do not take lightly. We pride ourselves in giving the best possible service to each and every patient and companion that have put their faith and trust in us.

    You will be receiving the personalized medical attention that you deserve, and the customized care from our staff throughout your stay. BariatricPal Hospital MX is a modern facility with the best equipment and staff. For your peace of mind, we will provide you with a patient valet to be there with you at the hospital and/or the hotel. They will keep you company and help and facilitate you with whatever you need. All staff speak English, so you will not have any trouble with communications.

  • What does the surgery package fee include?
  • We consider the surgery package fee all-inclusive. It includes the following:

    • Round trip transportation to and from the San Diego airport.
    • The hospital stay (two nights) and fees for surgery
    • Routine pre-op and post-op testing and evaluations
    • Routine post-op prescription medications (not included in pricing for Dr. Ponce).
    • Two nights of post-op recovery, including gourmet recovery broth
    • Accommodations for a travel companion during your stay.

    Our package prices may seem low, but there are no hidden fees! We are able to keep our costs down by negotiating group rates, and we pass the savings on to you.

  • Does my deposit go towards the total package fee?
  • Yes. The remaining balance is due 48 hours prior to surgery date.

  • How do I pay the remaining balance of my surgery package?
  • The best option is to directly deposit your payment into our Wells Fargo bank account because there is no additional fee. You can PayPal or pay with a major credit card and pay an additional 3% service charge. We also accept checks by phone.

  • How do transportation and lodging work with BariatricPal Hospital MX in Mexico?
  • You are responsible for making your own arrangements to get to the San Diego Airport. Please contact us before making your reservations to ensure we can pick you up at the scheduled time.

    You will be picked up at the airport by one of our friendly English speaking drivers. You may need to phone for the pick-up. Then you will be taken across the border and either directly to the hospital, if your surgery is same-day, or to the hotel if your surgery is next-day.

  • How much money should I bring on the trip? Should I bring cash?
  • Some cash for minor expenses such as tips and food is advisable, but we suggest do not bring too much. There are ATM machines throughout the city, and most major credit cards are accepted nearly everywhere, so do not worry if you have any unexpected expenses. Just remember to let your bank know that you will be out of the country so that you do not experience any inconveniences with your cards. Currency exchange rates fluctuate on a daily basis, so you can check what the rate is just before your arrival so you know what to expect. Canadian dollars are not accepted in Mexico. Tips are welcome!

  • What additional costs and fees are there?
  • Any food or drink outside of the hospital is not covered in the patient package.

  • Can anyone accompany me?
  • Yes. One travel/support companion is included in the package deal. Additional fees will apply if you are traveling with more than one companion or you choose to stay longer than the two nights included in the package deal.

  • How many days should I expect to be in Mexico?
  • Barring no medical complications, if you arrive the day of your surgery it will be for a period of three nights (two nights in the hospital and one night in the hotel) and depart on the fourth day. If you decide to fly in the day before your surgery, then you would leave on the fifth day

  • What should I bring on my trip?
  • Since it is a relatively brief stay and the fact that you will be in a hospital gown for more than 50% of the time that you are here, we suggest you travel light. A carry-on bag or light piece of luggage should suffice. Keep in mind you will not be able to lift heavy objects after your surgery, so a light bag with wheels may be best. Bring comfortable shoes, loose items of clothing, and your personal toiletry kits. Laptops or Ipad/tablets are more than welcome for you to use with the free wi-fi service provided at both the hospital and the hotel. PLEASE CHECK OUR LIST OF ITEMS TO BRING WITH YOU BELOW.

  • Are my personal belongings safe?
  • For those of you that are traveling without a companion, rest assured that all of your personal belongings will be right where you left them when you are returned to your hospital room after surgery. As a general security measure, we suggest leaving valuables such as jewelry at home. You will not be needing them in the hospital!

  • How should I plan my flights to and from San Diego?
  • We understand that sometimes your travel plans are out of your hands or that you would like to book the most cost-efficient flight available. However, you must also take into consideration that our transportation service is not at our disposal as a 24 hour service. Therefore any flight arriving after 7:00 p.m. or departing before 10:00 a.m. makes the ride to the airport to be considered as being done during “non-business” hours of operation, and a additional pick up fee of $50.00 will be added.

    For logistical reasons, if you are arriving the day of your surgery, we ask that you please arrive between 7:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. PST no later. This will ensure that your surgery will be performed that same day.

    For logistical reasons, we ask that you book your departing flights from San Diego after 1:00 p.m. PST so that we can get you across the border and to the airport with plenty of time to spare. We cannot be responsible for missed flights due to slow border crossings. We highly recommend you contact us before booking your flight!

  • What type of identification do I need?
  • Remember that you are traveling across international borders. You must bring a government-issued passport or passport card. This will help expedite the ride back across the border to the airport.

  • What if I do not have a passport?
  • All persons entering Mexico MUST have a valid passport or passport card. BE SURE TO CHECK OUR INFORMATION ON PASSPORTS AND CUSTOMS FOR US AND NON US CITIZENS

  • How long does the surgery last and how soon will I be awake, up and about?
  • The surgical procedure lasts anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 hour. Afterwards, you will stay in post-op recovery for about 2 to 3 hours until the anesthesia wears off and you regain feeling in your legs. Afterwards, you will be taken back to your hospital room. You will be up and walking in 6 to 8 hours after surgery.

  • What pain levels and side effects may I might encounter?
  • Every person has a different threshold for pain, so it is difficult to say how much pain and discomfort you will go through. Rest assured that the hospital staff will be there to assist you at any time. You will be given pain medications as needed. One possible, but not common, side effect is nausea due to the anesthesia.

  • Will I still be connected to a drain after I’m discharged from the hospital?
  • Absolutely not. Before you are discharged from the hospital, your IV and drain will be removed and you will be given an additional test to insure that there are no leaks involved with your procedure. You will receive instructions on safe recovery activities and restrictions.

  • What about jewelry and piercings?
  • All jewelry and piercings must be removed during surgery. No exceptions.

  • Why must I go on a pre-op diet?
  • The main reason is to reduce the fatty tissue around your liver and this, in turn, will also help reduce both the surgery time and in the healing process as well. The pre-op diet is a liquid diet that will also help prepare you for the first stage of the post-op diet.

  • Will I have a special diet after surgery?
  • Yes. A special diet with careful instructions will be given to you by the surgeon. You will also meet with a BariatricPal Hospital MX nutritionist for instructions on your diet after surgery.

  • Will I have noticeable scars after surgery?
  • Your incisions will be approximately one inch in length and barely noticeable as time passes.

  • Is it safe to travel to Tijuana, Mexico for surgery?
  • It is completely safe to travel to Tijuana, Mexico and have surgery with us, at BariatricPal Hospital MX. Our team takes care of you from your arrival at the San Diego Airport through the entire weight loss surgery experience. Someone is always available to answer your questions, address your concerns and explain what to expect.

  • Mexico's standards are not up to par with U.S. standards. Is that true?
  • Our standards are world class! Our surgeons and hospitals go through rigorous reviews to assure that internationals standards are met.

  • Are the facilities clean and modern like those in the U.S.?
  • BariatricPal Hospital MX is a modern and state-of-the-art. Our hospital maintain the highest standards of cleanliness and efficiency. Most patients mention that our hospital is much cleaner than those they visit in their hometown.

  • What bougie size does the doctor use?
  • Dr. Illan uses a 32 Fr bougie for the gastric sleeve procedure. This is the bougie size that has the best results without having complications such as strictures.

  • Do you use stitches to close up the incisions?
  • Our surgeons use an absorbable suture called Monocryl. So no stitches need to be removed. Your small wounds will be covered with bandages. You will be able to shower with regular soap and water. You will not be able to submerge in a bathtub, hot-tub or a swimming pool for a couple of weeks.

  • Can I drink alcohol?
  • Yes, but it is not recommended. Alcohol has many calories and will not help on your progress with your weight loss. Alcohol intoxication will also hit you a lot faster with the VSG than other surgeries.

  • How does Smoking affect my surgery?
  • Smoking hinders the healing process.

  • How much time off work?
  • After your bariatric procedure you should able to resume your regular activity once you get home. Some people who have desk-jobs return to work within 5 to 7 days. We do restrict our patients on “heavy” weight lifting for 30 days.

  • What kind of staples do you use? Will they sound off the alarm if I cross the metal detector in an Airport?
  • Our surgeons use titanium staples made by Echelon in the United States. Our surgeons also over sew the staple line making our leakage rate very low.

  • How about leaks?
  • Our surgeon’s leakage rate is at 0.32%. You will have 2 leak tests performed in the operating room after the sleeve is completed, a blue dye and an air test while you are still under anesthesia. The last leak test that is performed is a barium swallow.

Passport and US Customs Requirements
  • What travel documents and identification are required for a foreign national to enter the U.S.?
  • A foreign national or alien entering the U.S. is generally required to present a passport and valid visa issued by a U.S. Consular Official, unless they are a citizen of a country eligible for the Visa Waiver Program, or are a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. or a citizen of Canada. The Visa Waiver Program allows foreign nationals from certain countries to be admitted to the U.S. under limited conditions and for a limited time without obtaining a visa.

    The foreign national must arrive on an approved carrier (if coming by air or sea), staying no more than 90 days, for pleasure/medical purposes business, and be able to prove they are not inadmissible. The foreign national is still required to have a passport. To obtain a list of countries eligible for the Visa Waiver Program, please reference the Department of State Web site. For VWP passport requirements, see VWP-eligible passport.

    NOTE: All travelers transiting the United States are subject to the U.S. customs/immigration laws

    Canadians coming as a Treaty Trader, classification E are required to have a visa to enter the U.S. as are Canadians coming to marry a U.S. citizen and reside in the U.S. (K1).

    A visa and passport are not required of a Mexican national who is in possession of a Form DSP-150, B-1/B-2 Visa and Border Crossing Card*, containing a machine-readable biometric identifier, issued by the Department of State and is applying for admission as a temporary visitor for business or pleasure from contiguous territory by land or sea. Mexican citizens using the Border Crossing Card may travel 55 miles into the U.S. - except in the Nogales/Tucson area, where travel to Tucson is authorized.

    The Border Crossing Card (BCC) is acceptable as a stand-alone document (by itself) only for travel from Mexico by land, or by pleasure vessel or ferry. Together with a valid passport, though, it meets the documentary requirements for entry at all land, air, and sea ports of entry (to include travel from Canada). Note: You must be a Mexican citizen and a resident of Mexico to have a BCC.

    Continuing students who are going to travel outside of the United States must see their foreign student advisor and obtain an endorsement from the DSO or RO. The endorsement will be made on page 3 of the SEVIS Form I-20 or page 1 of the DS-2019. When returning to the United States, a continuing student/exchange visitor must present a valid SEVIS Form I-20 or DS-2019 with the DSO or RO signature showing that the student is active and in good standing with the school or program.

    Visitors traveling to the U.S. are required to be in possession of passports that are valid for six months beyond the period of their intended stay in the U.S. See list of countries exempt from the six month requirement Visiting the U.S. - Documents required for Canadian Citizens / Residents / Landed Immigrant to enter the U.S. and how long they can stay.

  • Documents required by Canadian Citizens / Residents / Landed Immigrants to enter the U.S. and how long can they stay?
  • Canadian Citizens’ passports are NOT required to be valid for six months past their intended date of departure. Their passports must only be valid up until the date of their intended departure. All Canadian Citizens entering the United States by AIR are required to present a valid passport, or a NEXUS card when departing from a designated Canadian airport.

    By Land and Sea (including ferries):

    Canadian citizens traveling to the U.S. by land or sea are required to present one of the travel documents listed below, and may generally visit the U.S. for up to six months. CBP will accept Canadian passport, Enhanced Driver’s License/Enhanced Identification Card, NEXUS, FAST/EXPRES and SENTRI enrollment cards.

    Children:

    Canadian citizens 15 years old and younger arriving by land or sea from contiguous territory may present an original or copy of his or her birth certificate or a Canadian Citizenship Card. Canadian Citizens 16 and older must have a valid passport unless traveling as part of an organized group described below.

    Groups of Children:

    Canadian citizen children under age 19 arriving by land or sea from contiguous territory and traveling with a school group, religious group, social/cultural organization, or sports team, may also present an original or copy of his or her birth certificate, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, a Naturalization Certificate, or a Canadian Citizenship Card.

    The group should provide, on organizational letterhead: The name of the group and supervising adult, a list of the children on the trip, the primary home address, phone number, date of birth, place of birth, and name of at least one parent or legal guardian for each child. A written and signed statement of the supervising adult certifying that he or she has obtained parental or legal guardian consent for each participating child. Canadians coming as a Treaty Trader (and family), Fiancés/Fiancées (and their children and spouses and children) of U.S. Legal permanent residents are required to have a visa to enter the U.S.

    Residents (PR) of Canada who are landed immigrants generally need a passport and visa to enter the United States, unless they are a citizen of a country eligible for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). If they are a citizen of a country eligible for the VWP, they are only required to have their valid passport - coming by land or sea. If coming by air, they will need to have advance approval to travel through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). There is an ESTA application fee of $14. To obtain a list of countries eligible for the VWP, please reference the Department of State Web site.

    Also, Native American Indians born in Canada with at least 50% American Indian blood are exempt from having a visa and passport to enter the U.S. by land. They should have their tribal identity card to present to the CBP Officer. If an American Indian is arriving into the U.S. by AIR, the traveler will be required to have a passport.

    The burden of proof that the Canadian citizen is not an intended immigrant (plans to make the U.S. their primary residence) is always on the applicant. There is no set period of time Canadians must wait to reenter the U.S. after the end of their stay, but if it appears to the CBP Officer that the person applying for entry is spending more time overall in the U.S. than in Canada, it will be up to the traveler to prove to the officer that they are not de-facto U.S. residents. One of the ways to do this demonstrates significant ties to their home country, including proof of employment, residency, etc.

  • What documents, identification, and paperwork does a U.S. citizen need to travel internationally?
  • If you are traveling in the Western Hemisphere (Canada, Mexico, Caribbean, Central and South America):

    Air Travel:

    All U.S. citizens departing from or entering the United States from within the Western Hemisphere by air are required to present a valid passport or NEXUS card (if utilizing a NEXUS kiosk when departing from a designated Canadian airport). Merchant Mariner Document (for U.S. citizens on official maritime business.) Note that children are also required to present their own passport when traveling by air.

    Land or Sea Travel:

    U.S. citizens entering the United States by land or sea are required to present a valid WHTI-compliant document, which include:

    • U.S. Passports
    • U.S. Passport Cards
    • Enhanced Driver’s Licenses
    • Trusted Traveler Cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, or FAST)
    • Military Identification Cards (for members of the U.S. armed forces on official orders)
    • Military Identification Cards (for members of the U.S. armed forces on official orders)
    • Military personnel traveling under orders may present photo ID and orders.
    • Family members must present a passport (with the exception of children 15 and younger arriving by land or sea.)

    Children:

    U.S. citizen children ages 15 and under arriving by land or sea from a contiguous territory may present an original or copy of his or her birth certificate (issued by the Vital Records Department in the state where he or she was born), a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or a Naturalization Certificate. If the child is a newborn and the actual birth certificate has not arrived from the Vital Records Department, we will accept a Hospital issued birth certificate.

    Groups of Children:

    U.S. citizen children between the ages of 16-18 arriving by land or sea from contiguous territory and traveling with an adult supervised school group, religious group, social or cultural organization, or sports team, may also present an original or copy of his or her birth certificate, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or a Naturalization Certificate.

Before You Leave for Surgery
  • Before You Leave
  • Please make sure you send us your flight information as soon as you have it, and please confirm it with us 48 hours prior to your arrival. We strongly recommend that you contact us before making non-refundable travel arrangements to ensure we can accommodate your desired time and date of surgery and to find out where you should plan for us to pick you up when you arrive in Mexico.

  • What to Pack
  • Please let us know if you have questions about what to bring or what paperwork you need.

    • Passport (it is highly recommended that your passport have an expiration date at least 6 months after your scheduled date of return from Mexico).
    • A small amount of cash for food and tipping
    • Comfortable, loose clothing – you will not be going out much, and will want loose fitting clothes after surgery. Bring a light jacket, especially in winter.
    • Comfortable shoes.
    • Your regular toiletries, such as shampoo, deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste, comb, etc
    • The contact numbers and itineraries on this site.
  • What to Expect Before Surgery
  • This is a breakdown of what to expect before surgery. Please be aware that this is an approximate schedule and is subject to change. Your surgery date WILL NOT change – only your surgery time may change slightly if necessary according to the surgeon or hospital.

    Please keep this contact information and these instructions in a safe place with you as you travel! We look forward to meeting you in Mexico!

    You will be picked up curbside and taken across the border (have your passport handy!) and to your hospital. It takes 25 minutes to get to the border from the airport.

  • When you get to the hospital
  • If you are arriving the same day for surgery, you will be taken to the hospital. Our Patient valet will be waiting there to greet you. Our internal medicine doctor and his medical team will be there to evaluate you and clear you for surgery.

    Then you will meet your surgeon and the medical team, and have a consultation with your surgeon. After completing your pre-op testing, you will have your surgery. Surgery takes Approximately 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours. PLEASE NOTE THAT SURGERY TIMES ARE APPROXIMATIONS AND ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE TO BE EARLIER OR LATER.

    After surgery, you will be taken to recovery or directly to your hospital room. While you are recovering in the hospital, our Customer Service member will take care of your companion and be by their side for 8 hours each day you are at the Hospital.

  • If you arrive the day before surgery
  • You will be taken to the Real Inn where you will be staying. You will be greeted by your BariatricPal Hospital MX valet. You may stay at the Hotel and relax, or go shopping or site seeing. You can reserve a trip with BariatricPal – please contact us for pricing.

    You will taken to the hospital the next day for pre-op testing and surgery

What to Expect After Surgery
  • What to Expect
  • This is what to expect after surgery. Before releasing you from the hospital, the surgeon will make sure you have no leaks or medical concerns. Our surgeons perform three tests for leaks:

    • Test for air during surgery to check for leaks.
    • Test drainage using a blue dye that you drink to make sure all is well.
    • Test X-Ray Barium swallow to make sure NO Leaks are present

    When you are released from our hospital, we will pick you up and bring you to the Hotel. You can relax or schedule a trip to go walking or shopping.

  • Nutritional Support
  • BariatricPal Hospital MX offers our patients lifetime nutritional support! Good nutrition is crucial for your healthy recovery and success in losing weight after surgery. Soon after surgery, your nutritionist will come by to begin your post-op nutritional support. You will also learn how you can stay in touch with your BariatricPal Hospital MX nutritionist for your follow-up program.

  • Leaving Mexico
  • We recommend you plan to stay for 2 days to begin a proper recovery from surgery. On the day you leave, we will bring you back to San Diego 4 hours before your flight. Please consider that we may have more patients to pick up and may need to take you to the airport earlier than the 4 hours before your flight. Also, we may need to go through US Customs, which could take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours or more. The following can speed the process:

    • Please have all of your passport or other documentation such as your ID and birth certificate.
    • Please do not bring back any narcotic medications, as it is against US law.
    • Please make sure you have no warrants or citations as you are going back to the US.
    • Please read through our page on passports and US Customs requirements so you can be prepared

    Once we are back in the US, we will take you directly to the airport for your flight back home.