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Canadian Cross-Province Bariatric Surgery Options

Canadian Cross-Province Bariatric Surgery Options

Guidance for Canadians exploring bariatric surgery options in different provinces due to wait times or seeking specific surgeons.

Under normal circumstances, Canadians will look towards their public healthcare system when considering to embark on a bariatric surgery journey. The downside is that the public healthcare system (not surprisingly) has long wait times across the country with an average of 4.5 years and requires a physician referral which can sometimes be difficult to obtain from a family doctor. In addition, government-funded bariatric surgery programs often use outdated qualification criteria for patients, permitting only those patients with a BMI of 35 or higher. This leaves many looking into the private sector options in order to have quicker and easier access to surgery.

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Private bariatric surgery options in Canada

There are essentially 2 alternative options when it comes to private bariatric surgery options:

1. Having surgery in Canada by surgical teams respecting Canadian-based surgical and medical norms that we are accustomed to.

2. Having to travel for surgery abroad in a foreign country.

While surgery abroad appears to be a cheaper option at first glance, the difference in price is not as large as it may appear at first.

There are also several downsides to having surgery abroad:

– Having to travel long distances when you are uncomfortable and recovering from surgery.

– Not meeting your surgeon before presenting yourself to a foreign country.

– Having to obtain very good medical travel insurance in the event of a major complication.

– Having to decide if you will spend extra to have that very important support person travel with you or if you will be alone having surgery in a foreign country.

– Not having any support after surgery once you return home.

– Not having any post-operative direction, instruction, education, or personalization of medical or dietary issues that you face after surgery.

– And more.

These reasons are enough to have many reconsider the option of traveling abroad for surgery and instead look closer to home.

What are the private options available in each Canadian province?

Private bariatric surgery in Quebec

Quebec currently has 2 private bariatric surgery clinics where patients can self-refer without a physician’s note, both based in Montreal. Both have different support programs and different access to surgery times and they differ as to where you would have surgery, in an accredited private hospital where you will be hospitalized under the watchful eye of the medical team during your recovery vs a day surgery center where you would be sent to a hotel to further recover.

At Weight Loss Surgery Inc. with Dr. Simon Chow, surgery access is among the best in private bariatric care in Canada with wait times of only 4-6 weeks after meeting the surgeon. He is also the only private bariatric option in Quebec that operates in a private accredited hospital, a true testament to Dr. Chow’s commitment to safe, quality, and effective care. Dr. Chow’s team will follow you for 12 months after surgery with easy access by email or phone in between appointments for any questions or concerns. He offers both the sleeve gastrectomy and the gastric bypass procedures as well as revisional surgery from removing the gastric band and converting to either a sleeve gastrectomy or a gastric bypass, or conversion from a sleeve gastrectomy to a gastric bypass. Notably, Dr. Simon Chow respects the latest guidelines and research in his qualification criteria which permits evidence-based access to patients seeking bariatric surgery with a BMI as low as 30 with obesity-related comorbidities. For patients living far from our clinic, we offer virtual consultations with all members of our team. A look into Dr. Chow’s independent patient reviews provides prospective insight to patients seeking a quality surgeon and team with whom they can entrust their bariatric journey.

Other private clinics in Quebec do not operate in a private accredited hospital and may not offer the same long-term post-operative support from their bariatric team.

Private bariatric surgery in Ontario

There are 3 noted private bariatric clinics in the Toronto-area of Ontario, all of which primarily offer the sleeve gastrectomy. The Ontario Health Network prevents private bariatric clinics from offering bariatric surgeries in private that are already provided through OHIP. Given that the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass is covered through OHIP, this explains why we mainly see the sleeve gastrectomy being one of the only offers in private clinics in Ontario.

Some private clinics in Ontario may offer the mini gastric bypass. However, this option may lead to bile reflux which causes discomfort and can worsen symptoms of GERD or reflux.

For Ontario residents seeking private bariatric options, many patients choose to travel to Montreal for surgery at Weight Loss Surgery Inc. with Dr. Simon Chow, specifically people from Ottawa, Cornwall, Kingston, and surrounding areas. Our clinic in Montreal is often times closer for them to drive to vs the Toronto alternative, and patients seeking to have quicker access to a traditional gastric bypass would not find this option within the Ontario options.

Private bariatric surgery in New Brunswick

There are no private clinics in New Brunswick, not even in Fredericton, leaving only medical tourism or travel within Canada for private bariatric surgery. In the public setting patients must be followed by their medical team including a nurse and dietitian and only meet the surgeon once they are deemed ‘ready’ by the team. This may explain in part why Dr. Chow receives a significant volume of patients from New Brunswick who fly to Dr. Chow’s bilingual private bariatric practice for safe surgery in a private accredited Canadian hospital. He offers 1 year of virtual follow-up with his medical team including a bariatric nurse and bariatric dietitian. Although the Montreal clinic is hundreds of kilometers away, our patients always stay and feel connected to our team who is only a phone call or email away from additional support in between your scheduled appointments.

Private bariatric surgery in Nova Scotia, Prince Edwards Island (PEI), and Newfoundland and Labrador

There are no private clinics in the Martiimes, not even in St John’s, Halifax, or Charlottetown. While Health PEI may cover out of province bariatric surgery, this may only be relevant if you are having surgery in the public system. In Nova Scotia, it can take up to 180 days just to hav a consultation for bariatric surgery and another 200 to 400 days after that for a surgery. Considering the wait times may be long for bariatric surgery in the Maritimes, this leaves only medical tourism or travel within Canada for private bariatric surgery. This may explain why Dr. Chow regularly receives patients from the Maritimes who fly to Dr. Chow’s bilingual private bariatric practice for safe surgery in a private accredited Canadian hospital. He offers 1 year of virtual follow-up with his medical team including a bariatric nurse and bariatric dietitian. Although the Montreal clinic is hundreds of kilometers away, our patients always stay and feel connected to our team who is only a phone call or email away from additional support in between your scheduled appointments.

Private bariatric surgery in Manitoba

The only private bariatric clinic in Winnipeg offers the gastric balloon. The gastric balloon is recognized as a temporary solution which is why Dr. Chow does not offer this in his private bariatric practice. We choose to offer only permanent long term solutions to weight loss management and health improvement. After 4-6 months, the gastric balloon must be removed at which point the individual would regain a significant amount of weight. Following this, the Winnipeg gastritis balloon clinic offers a plan which involves inserting a second balloon 2-6 months after removing the first balloon for prices as high as $13,000-$14,000 CAD. When a sleeve gastrectomy costs only a few thousand more for a long-term evidence-based surgical solution, this may have some people reconsider, however bariatric surgery is surgery and the balloon is a non-surgical albeit temporary solution.

Aside from the gastric balloon, this leaves Manitoba residents with the only other private options of medical tourism or travel within Canada for private bariatric surgery. This may explain why Dr. Chow receives Manitoba patients who fly to Dr. Chow’s bilingual private bariatric practice for safe surgery in a private accredited Canadian hospital. He offers 1 year of virtual follow-up with his medical team including a bariatric nurse and bariatric dietitian. Although the Montreal clinic is hundreds of kilometers away, our patients always stay and feel connected to our team who is only a phone call or email away from additional support in between your scheduled appointments.

Private bariatric surgery in Saskatchewan

There are no private clinics in Saskatchewan, not even in Regina or Saskatoon, leaving only medical tourism or travel within Canada for private bariatric surgery. This may explain why Dr. Chow receives come patients from Saskachewan who fly to Dr. Chow’s bilingual private bariatric practice for safe surgery in a private accredited Canadian hospital. He offers 1 year of virtual follow-up with his medical team including a bariatric nurse and bariatric dietitian. Although the Montreal clinic is hundreds of kilometers away, our patients always stay and feel connected to our team who is only a phone call or email away from additional support in between your scheduled appointments.

Private bariatric surgery in Alberta

There are only 1 private clinic in Alberta, situated in Red Deer, between Edmonton and Calgary. However, this recent option is not permitted to operate on patients in Alberta given that private medicine is not permitted in the province. The surgeon and patient must thus travel to Montreal in order to have their surgery in a day surgery center. This is an option for patients who do not want to have their surgery in a foreign country. Albertans also have another option for private bariatric care in Canada. Dr. Chow receives patients from Alberta who fly to Dr. Chow’s bilingual private bariatric practice for safe surgery in a private accredited Canadian hospital. He offers 1 year of virtual follow-up with his medical team including a bariatric nurse and bariatric dietitian. Although the Montreal clinic is hundreds of kilometers away, our patients always stay and feel connected to our team who is only a phone call or email away from additional support in between your scheduled appointments. Alberta patients should know that they do have options other than turning towards medical tourism for bariatric or weight loss surgery.

Private bariatric surgery in British Columbia

There are no private clinics in British Columbia, not even in Vancouver or Surrey, leaving only medical tourism or travel within Canada for private bariatric surgery. This may explain why Dr. Chow receives come patients from British Columbia (Fun fact: his home province and a UBC graduate) who fly to Dr. Chow’s bilingual private bariatric practice for safe surgery in a private accredited Canadian hospital. He offers 1 year of virtual follow-up with his medical team including a bariatric nurse and bariatric dietitian. Although the Montreal clinic is hundreds of kilometers away, our patients always stay and feel connected to our team who is only a phone call or email away from additional support in between your scheduled appointments.

We aim to show that while some Canadians may not choose to wait in the public system, there are options for them waiting for them within the comfort of their own country.