The Current

Bariatric medical tourism comes at a high cost for patients and Canada

Canadians who go abroad for bariatric surgery due to long wait times at home face dangerous post-op complications costing our healthcare system millions of dollars.
Canadians have almost died from post-op complications from getting bariatric surgery in places like Mexico. (Regis Duvignau/Reuters)

Canadians interested in bariatric surgery are likely to spend months, or even years, on a hospital waiting list. Those that look into private clinics for the procudure are looking at a price tag around $20,000.

So when some see videos like this one offering bariatric surgery faster and cheaper, many hop on that plane to Tijuana.

But the post-operative complications can be dire and in some cases, almost fatal. Connie Kempton had the procedure done in Mexico and says she is lucky to be alive after all the problems that arose after her surgery, "I've lost 10 years off my life, my doctor figures."

These issues that arise after the procedure also cost the Canadian health-care system millions in dollars.

I apologize to the Canadian citizens for what it cost in tax dollars ... I would say my care would be close to $750,000.- Connie Kempton wants Canadians to be careful when considering their bariatric surgery options

Guests in this segment:

  • Connie Kempton, suffered from post-op complications after getting bariatric surgery in Mexico.  
  • Dr. Chris De Gara, surgeon, professor of surgery at the University of Alberta, a surgeon, and president of the Canadian Association of General Surgeons.    

This segment was produced by The Current's Julia Pagel and Sujata Berry.