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  • Name: Vicki Sanders
  • Age: 39
  • Surgery: Gastric Sleeve
  • Surgery date: May 19th, 2015
  • Testimonial date: June 19th, 2015
  • Surgeon: Dr. Almanza
I want to give everyone a straight, honest assessment of my gastric sleeve experience with Dr. Almanza and First I think I should give some of my background. I have been an radiologic technologist for 16 years and a radiologist assistant for 9 years. I have worked in large hospitals and small rural hospitals. I am now an assistant professor teaching x-Ray and radiologist assistants in Texas.

I have done tons of research on bariatric surgeries, obesity in imaging, and have given presentations about different bariatric surgeries and complications to others. I am a super cautious, research driven person that does not jump into decisions without looking at every angle. I have been obese for over 15 years and have thought about bariatric surgery since 2006. Two years ago was the breaking point for me. I was 336 (all time high weight) and couldn't control my eating ( big problem for my control freak nature). That summer I went through a what I am calling, "a diabetic episode" in which I was extremely thirst and not hungry, in 3 months I lost 50 pounds. With my father's medical conditions brought on by obesity, I was scared. My weight stabilized and the "diabetic Episode" symptoms subsided. I saw a bariatric surgeon in my city and he wanted to do a open gastric bypass with gallbladder removal for about $18,000. Insurance was ridiculous and wanted me on a medically supervised weight loss for 1 year, psychological evaluation, a comorbidity being treated at maximum level, $5000 dollar deductible with 20 % after deductible.

I found out about Dr. Almanza through a friend I trusted who had the gastric sleeve. I asked him very pointed questions about the medical care in Tijuana. We all have our speculations about the healthcare in other countries and being a healthcare provider I was above all skeptical.
I booked my surgery date through for May 19th. I started my preop diet, which was recommended for 5 days, 2 days early. I flew into San Diego on May 18th and waited for the noon pick up. I met some amazing people that was our group throughout this journey. We had no issues with crossing the boarder and we went straight to the hospital for preop testing. Now the hospital is a women's and children's hospital and has other offices in the building. I would state that it looks like a outpatient surgery center in the US. I was very clean and I saw no concerns for sanitation issues. You will have to walk up 3 stories on a ramp because elevators are for surgical patients only,

We had blood work and ECG that was interpreted by a cardiologist at the time. We saw a accountant to settle any remaining balance and sign consent forms. The consent forms are in Spanish but the accountant will translate for you. There is always some communication issues when traveling abroad but Dr Almanza's team always answered questions we had with fluent translators. We headed back to the hotel for the night after preop testing. The hotel is very nice, consider a Hampton Inn or a Hilton. The rooms have only 3 English channels which only play reruns of movies. You will need an extension cord because outlets are on the far wall. There are no wash clothes but everything is clean. You may order anything from the restaurant that is on your preop diet and deliveries are made to your room.
The nursing team at the hotel will call you for a pickup time for your surgery. You will check out of your previous room and bring everything with you to the hospital.

The day of surgery we spoke to Dr. Almanza. He stated his "English is not good but his hands are good." A fluent translator was with him to help with any questions. He has had gastric sleeve 8 years ago and has lost 85 pounds. On request from a patient, he showed us his scars and six-pack abs reinforcing that fact that we can lose the weight. We were then taken to the prep area and IVs are started and legs are wrapped in compressive bandages to decrease the chance of blood clots. When my time came they walked me to surgical preop and Dr Lopez, anesthesiologist, asked questions and gave me Versed. After that I remember nothing but waking up in recovery and wanting to look at my stomach for conformation I actually had the gastric sleeve.

After surgery we are placed in shared rooms to recover. The only truly painful part, for me, was gas. Not peritoneal gas but stomach air bubble gas that I took a gas x strip for and was quickly relieved. Some had nausea but the only time I had nausea was when I took 2 gas x strips. They asked that we walk the halls and this would relieved a lot of gas and got the bowels restarted. The more people walked it seemed the better they felt. IVs were given with antibiotics, anti nausea, and pain killers already mixed. There was a drain that was annoying but not painful that relieved a lot of the peritoneal air.

We were taken back to the hotel the next day and checked back into the rooms. The nurses brought more IV fluids and a doctor came to see us in the rooms. We were still encouraged to walk and drink ice water, Popsicles, Apple juice and, jello. They changed our dressings after we showered and explained the care of the incisions. The next day we went for our leak study. We drank a purple liquid at 7 am and was shuttled to a imaging center at 7:45 where we drank contrast under X-ray to check for leaks. We kept our X-rays and we all compared our new stomachs in the shuttle on the way back to the hotel. We could eat broths and all previously mentioned foods after the leak study. We received another 2 injections of antibiotics, pain killer, anti nausea cocktails. The doctor examined our X-rays and our drains for leaks and said it would come out later that night. The nurses said they would be back at 7:00pm to remove the drain and IV. It was more like 10:00pm when they removed the drain which was uncomfortable but not painful. The nursing team called us to tell us when we needed to meet in the lobby for pickup to the airport.

Crossing the boarder was a little long but no problems. I am 5 days out from surgery and have lost 19 pounds ( including the 11 pounds I lost with the preop diet). I have some gas pain that is relieved with gas x strips. I'm getting better each day. I wished I would have done this 5 years ago and I would tell anyone who is having reservations about having surgery with Dr Almanza in Tijuana Mexico, do not worry. They are professional, clean, well organized, and as competent as in the US.

Thank you
    * This is an actual testimonial, however, your results may vary. For more information, please read our Testimonial Disclaimer and Risks of Surgery.

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      * The testimonials, statements, and opinions presented on our website are only applicable to the individuals depicted, and may not be representative of the experience of others. For more information, please read our Testimonial Disclaimer and Risks of Surgery.