Saturday, March 25, 2023

UC San Diego Collaborates with a Weight Loss Surgical Center in Tijuana

Surgeons from UC San Diego Health traveled to Tijuana Thursday to celebrate the launch of a new collaboration with a weight-loss surgery center based north of the border city.

While horror stories abound about medical tourists going to Mexico for weight-loss procedures, supporters of this new collaboration say medical tourism is here to stay.

“We can either fight it or align to improve care for patients on both sides of the border,” said Dr. Santiago Horgan, a UCSD professor of clinical surgery, who is among the doctors spearheading the new partnership with the International Institute of Metabolic Medicine, or IIMM for its acronym in English.

Weight loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery or gastric banding, is intended to help people struggling with obesity lose weight by significantly reducing the size of their stomachs.

Cost is often the main determining factor for medical tourists who decide to cross the border for procedures, but some people travel to Mexico for procedures they would not be entitled to in the United States.

IIMM’s surgical center has been accredited by the Joint Commission, a US-based non-profit organization that accredits healthcare organizations and programs around the world. It will follow the guidelines of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, according to Horgan.

“What happens is that a lot of patients don’t qualify for insurance or don’t have insurance. For example, if you have a BMI (body mass index) of 37, and you’re 80 pounds overweight, but you don’t have diabetes, insurance won’t cover you,” Horgan explained. “But if you don’t do anything, you’ll have diabetes. that those patients can come here and have surgery for a much lower price, in a safe environment and approved by the Joint Commission, with the same standards”.

The UCSD doctors said they will not have any direct oversight of the IIMM, and they do not endorse the results because the collaboration is not a full clinical partnership.

“Right now, it’s an academic collaboration,” Horgan said. “And will it grow in the future? We hope so.”

Dr. Ariel Ortiz Speaks At The Iimm In Tijuana

Dr. Ariel Ortiz, CEO and founder of the International Institute for Metabolic Medicine, speaks at an event highlighting a new partnership between the Tijuana center and UC San Diego Health.

(Wendy Fry / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The cross-border collaboration was formed organically. Horgan said IIMM founder Dr. Ariel Ortiz taught him the “gastric band” procedure about 20 years ago in Chicago, and the two remained close friends. Laparoscopic gastric banding is a surgery in which the surgeon places a band around the upper part of the stomach to create a small bag that contains food.

Ortiz said the Tijuana hospital is focused on education, training and the advancement of surgical techniques, as well as providing quality care to patients.

Dr. Bryan Clary, professor and director of the UC San Diego department of surgery, said this is an important collaboration between the Division of Minimally Invasive Surgery in the UC San Diego Department of Surgery and the International Institute of Metabolic Medicine. . A ceremony was held on Thursday night at the IIMM’s brand-new, three-story hospital facility located on Paseo de los Héroes Street, near Tijuana’s Mercado Hidalgo.

“Today we celebrate more than just a partnership between like-minded people who are dedicated to providing high-quality minimally invasive surgical options for the patients they serve,” said Clary. “In fact, today we are celebrating a fundamental and aspirational idea. The idea that human collaborations across international borders not only happen, but can bring significant benefits to the patients we serve in our region.”

Endoscopic And Surgical Tools Seen At The International Institute Of Metabolic Medicine In Tijuana.

Endoscopic and surgical tools seen at the International Institute of Metabolic Medicine in Tijuana.

(Wendy Fry / The San Diego Union Tribune)

Horgan and other doctors agreed that the success of medical tourism in the region — an $800 million-a-year industry in Tijuana — hinges on rooting out bad practices. The lack of government oversight has allowed patients at other Tijuana centers to undergo dangerous surgical procedures that they would not be allowed in the United States, sometimes with disastrous results.

The FBI is investigating the death of a Long Beach woman after multiple people were injured during plastic surgery at a Tijuana clinic in 2021. The Baja California state government has allowed the man who runs the clinic to continue performing surgeries, despite not being a surgeon.

“No doubt. There has to be supervision. This facility is state-of-the-art, and out of 26,000 surgeries, there have been zero deaths, so I think it’s also important to accept these types of facilities that have this level of credibility,” Horgan said, adding that the process will force bad actors to leave the market. “Because people are going to keep coming.”

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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