The dangers of weight loss surgery in other countries

Updated: Dec. 17, 2018 at 10:22 AM CST
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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - A weight loss journey leaves one woman fighting for her life.

“Am I angry? Yeah I’m very angry." Anita Gatlin went to Tijuana, Mexico for gastric sleeve surgery.

“I went in there thinking I was going to be okay to be able to be with my family,” Gatlin said. “To be able to play with my grandkids, and it didn’t come out like that.”

General Bariatric Surgeon, Dr. Keith Chung, who is not Gatlin’s doctor, explained what happens during the surgery.

“Basically, it is a procedure where we suck 85% of the volume of your stomach, so making it a more slender stomach," Dr. Chung said. "So, the essence and principle behind it is that you eat far less to fill that stomach and so, you get less hungry quicker.”

Though it may seem like a sure-fire way to lose weight quickly, Dr. Chung said, all surgeries come with a chance for complications. Leaks and sepsis are two that can actually kill a patient.

Dr. Chung adds, when traveling to other countries for weight loss surgeries, yes, they may be cheaper, but there are other issues.

“If you have developed some kind of complication, there is absolutely no way to get back to them because a lot of times they’re sick very, very sick and we end up having to take care of a problem that we never created to begin with,” Chung said.

Gatlin lost the weight; 150 pounds in just three months.

“A three-year-old eats more than I do," Gatlin said.

In that time, shes been in and out of the hospital three times and had another surgery to pump out an infection she developed.

“They said I will be in and out of the hospital for the rest of my life because of this," Gatlin said.

Dr. Chung said if you’re looking for a weight loss surgery or program, research is important.

Finding a place where doctors have a proven track record when following up with patients is key.

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