Medical tourism in bariatric surgery

Am J Surg. 2010 May;199(5):604-8. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2010.01.002. Epub 2010 Mar 25.


Background: The number of Canadians who self-refer for bariatric surgery outside of Canada or to private clinics within Canada remains undefined. The outcomes from this questionable practice have not been evaluated systematically to date.

Methods: We completed a chart review of known cases referred to our center for complications related to medical tourism and bariatric surgery.

Results: We present a series of patients who have experienced complications because of medical tourism for bariatric surgery and required urgent surgical management at a tertiary care center within Canada. Complications have resulted from 3 commonly used procedures: adjustable gastric banding, gastric sleeve resection, and Roux-en-Y gastric bypass.

Conclusions: Because of this review, we propose that a medical tourism approach to the surgical management of obesity-a chronic disease-is inappropriate and raises clear ethical and moral issues.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bariatric Surgery / adverse effects
  • Bariatric Surgery / methods
  • Body Mass Index
  • Canada
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gastric Bypass / adverse effects*
  • Gastric Bypass / methods
  • Gastroplasty
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy / adverse effects*
  • Laparoscopy / methods
  • Medical Tourism / statistics & numerical data*
  • Medical Tourism / trends
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity, Morbid / diagnosis
  • Obesity, Morbid / surgery*
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / surgery*
  • Reoperation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sampling Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult