Minimally Invasive Options for Weight Loss Surgery in Mexico

The two most common non-invasive bariatric surgeries in Mexico are gastric plication and gastric banding.

There are three common myths about bariatric surgery. One is that it’s unnecessary – that anyone can lose weight with the proper diet and exercise. Another is that most people who undergo weight loss surgery will gain back any weight they lose after it. The third, and probably most incorrect, is that bariatric surgery is dangerous. 

Check out these facts about bariatric surgery from the Cleveland Clinic, one of the United States’ premier hospitals:

  • The health risks of bariatric surgery are much lower than those of obesity itself.
  • Bariatric surgery often improves high blood pressure, sleep apnea, joint pain, type 2 diabetes, fertility and depression.
  • The risk of bariatric surgery is about the same as for a gallbladder operation.
  • Many people lose half of their excess weight six to 12 months after surgery.
  • Success rates for bariatric surgery are approximately 85 percent post-operation. 

Only four percent of bariatric surgery patients experience complications, and the mortality rate from the procedure is 0.1 percent. A majority of weight loss surgeries are performed laparoscopically, which is a less invasive type of procedure that typically produces less pain and reduces recovery time. 

Combatting the myth of bariatric surgery being an easy option for losing weight, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Expert Panel has stated that without surgery, long-term weight loss is nearly impossible for those affected by severe obesity. Weight loss surgery is, for some individuals, the best way to fight severe obesity, which can reduce life expectancy by an estimated five to 20 years and reduce a patient’s risk of premature death by 30 to 50 percent. 

Understanding Medical Tourism 

Because bariatric surgery isn’t covered by many health plans, many individuals look to having this type of procedure done in Mexico, which is a prime destination for medical tourism. Tijuana, especially, is a top choice for individuals looking for high-quality and affordable bariatric surgery. 

Getting bariatric procedures done in Mexico can save you approximately 40-65 percent, a substantial cost difference. It’s important, though, to select a trained and board-certified bariatric specialist. If you’re planning to visit a clinic or hospital, make sure it has received accreditation by the International Society for Quality in Health Care (ISQua) and has employees who speak your language. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS) offer a guide to providers in cities around the world.

Also, be sure you know what the treatment you want entails, the benefits it offers and any corresponding risks. Be aware of any possible complications. If you’re looking for a minimally-invasive bariatric procedure, your best choices are gastric plication or gastric/lap banding. 

Gastric Plication 

Also sometimes referred to as gastric imbrication and greater curvature plication, this minimally-invasive procedure and reversible procedure is a proven and effective measure for weight loss. It’s a restrictive procedure, meaning the surgeon reduces the size of your stomach, so you’ll feel full faster, eat less and therefore lose weight. 

gastric plication

The term plication refers to the rounded shape of the stomach made by folding it in layers. Gastric plication functions on the principle of folding the stomach into itself and using sutures, or stitches, to reduce the total volume. A laparoscope and other instruments are placed through small incisions in the abdomen to reach the stomach. 

Gastric plication differs from other bariatric operations because it doesn’t involve gastric banding, stomach stapling or bypassing the stomach. The stomach folds achieved during the surgery reduce the size of your stomach to about 70 percent or three ounces. Surgery time typically takes under one hour and is done using a general anesthesia, so you only have to stay in the hospital between 24 and 48 hours. 

Patients who have the gastric plication weight loss procedure typically lose 15 to 20 percent of their starting total body weight. Initial research suggests weight loss is about 60 percent excess weight loss after 12 months. You also might experience better health, such as improvements in weight-related health conditions, including fatty liver and dyslipidemia, which occurs when you have abnormal amounts of lipids (fats) in your blood. 

Gastric plication has numerous advantages, including no altering of a patient’s digestive tract and the ability to consume a larger range of foods than gastric bypass. Recovery times vary by patient, but most return to work and normal activities within seven to 10 days. 

Your doctor may recommend gastric plication surgery if you meet the following criteria:

  • You have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater, which means you are obese. This is lower than most bariatric procedures that require you to be morbidly obese with a BMI of 40 or greater or 35 or greater with obesity-related health problems.
  • You have tried less-invasive strategies but have not achieved adequate weight loss. This includes diet, exercise, behavioral therapy and medical weight loss using medications.
  • You have demonstrated a commitment to losing weight, improving your health and making lifelong changes to your lifestyle habits. This includes making permanent diet, exercise and behavior changes. It will also involve accepting a lifelong need to limit food portions and change food choices. 

Gastric Banding 

During gastric banding bariatric surgery, the surgeon places the silicone “Lap Band” around the upper section of the stomach, thereby creating a smaller stomach pouch. This limits the amount of food you can eat. Over time, consuming smaller portions of food and fewer calories lead to weight loss. Like gastric plication, gastric banding is a restrictive procedure. 

gastric band tijuana

When it’s medically appropriate for the patient, most physicians employ the less invasive laparoscopic approach to gastric banding surgery. There is no stomach stapling or intestinal rerouting required, so the band can be adjusted to each patient’s needs and removed if necessary. 

This procedure is similar to gastric plication in that it offers a faster recovery with fewer complications and allows you to eat a more varied diet. However, you’ll be required to follow a strict liquids-only diet for up to six weeks with gradual reintroduction of soft foods. 

Gastric banding is beneficial for patients who want a bariatric procedure with a comparably rapid recovery and a smaller chance of wound infections and hernias after surgery. Plus, there is no loss of nutrient absorption with this surgery. After having the Lap Band inserted, you can expect to lose roughly 40-50 percent required of excess weight over two years. 

Your doctor may recommend gastric plication surgery if you meet the following criteria: –

  • You have a BMI of 40 or greater, usually indicating 100 pounds of excess body weight for men and 80 pounds for women. You have tried less-invasive strategies but have not achieved adequate weight loss. This includes diet, exercise, behavioral therapy and medical weight loss using medications.
  • You have BMI between 30 and 34.9, and injectable and oral medications fail to keep your blood sugar levels under control.
  • You do not have a binge eating disorder. 

VIDA Bariatrics– A Valuable Bariatric Resource 

At VIDA our bariatric surgeons are highly experienced and board-certified internationally. We are able to perform gastric banding in Tijuana at a fraction of the cost of what is charged in the U.S. If you’re unsure about traveling to us for a consultation, we offer virtual consultations, during which we’ll be able to assess your candidacy for bariatric surgery and answer any questions you may have. Contact us to learn more!


Dr. Gabriela Rodriguez specializes in General and Laparoscopic Bariatric Surgery. She brings to VIDA Wellness and Beauty a wealth of experience in bariatrics. Dr. Rodriguez is a founding associate of the Mexican College of General Surgeons. A world-class bariatric surgeon with double certification in the US and Mexico.