Dr. Castaneda - Answers to FAQ

Jun 08, 2010

Hi Everyone,
I've had a number of people contact me regarding my experience with Dr. Castaneda. Thanks to one very detailed question filled e-mail (thank you Fattytoslim!), I've got a number of answers readily available to share! If you have more questions, or just want to actually chat about my experience, please feel free to message me!

1. WHY DID I CHOOSE DR. CASTANEDA: I chose him for a number of reasons. First, he has experience. Second, he does a max of 2 surgeries a day - one in the am and one in the pm. This means he isn't exhausted and is therefore less likely to make errors. Third, he has never had a patient die. Fourth, his complication rate is very very low (less than a half percent). Fifth, he and his people were very warm, understanding and helpful. Sixth, I wanted to vacation in Puerto Vallarta. Bonus, he is there! But he also has an office in Guadalajara. Seventh, I grew up in So. Cal and did tourist trips to Tijuana. Nice place to visit, but wouldn't want surgery there! (Of course, things may have changed!). Eighth, I wanted a tubal ligation at the same time, and he was willing and able to do this (fertility can increase with weight loss). Ninth, his price was really good. About $7000 for the VSG and tubal ligations surgeries combined. 

2. WHO DID I USE TO SET IT ALL UP: To set up the surgery I used MedicalTourism.com. Hazel was my coordinator. She was, and is (she checks in on me) fabulous. Answered every question and walked me through the process. And yes, I will use them again - when I get plastics!

3. DID I TALK TO DR. CASTANEDA PERSONALLY PRIOR TO SURGERY: We had e-mail via Hazel. I could have spoken to him directly, but felt comfortable enough that I didn't feel it was necessary. I did, however, talk to him once I arrived in Puerto Vallart prior to the surgery date.

4. WHY DID I DECIDE ON A VSG, DID HE SUGGEST IT: I chose the VSG because it is a simpler procedure, has no malnutrition issues, has no food restrictions, no dumping, and if need be can be transitioned into an RNY. I wanted something that would let me live a normal life - just with smaller portions and healthier choices!
Dr. Castaneda is a specialist in the digestive tract (don't know what that specialty is called) and surgery for diabetes. As such, he is experienced in any of the surgeries and very able to handle any anomalies (ie hernias) that may be unexpected. He did not recommend one surgery over an other. Other than to suggest that If I had diabetes (I have insulin resistance) that I might want to consider a bi-pass instead. But, I had done research and knew what I wanted before I had Hazel contacted him. 

5. HOW WAS WERE I STAYED: My stay was different from others. I had a planned two week vacation while there. I stayed at the Melia. It is an all inclusive resort. It was my first time there and I will be going back. As such, I did not stay at the place the agency refers people to. They refer people to the Marriot, I believe they have a deal with them for $85 per night. I've heard it is very nice.  But, I really liked the Melia.

6. DID I HAVE ANY COMPLICATIONS: No. I did so well he kept saying he was amazed. At one point he wanted to check on my stitches, and I literally hopped up on the bed. He was agast. I can not emphasize how important it is to get up and get moving. You wont want to, but you must. Also, don't be brave - use the pain meds! Stress from pain slows healing.

7. HOW LONG WAS MY HOSPITAL STAY: I checked into the hospital on Friday around noon. Had surgery around 2pm. Was fully awake in my room by 5. I should mention that my surgery was a bit longer than most, as I also had a tubal ligation. I stayed in the hospital all of Saturday. And checked out Sunday around noon. I was surprised about the check out. After the doctor clears you to go, there is no paperwork or anything. When you are ready, you just let the nurse know, and go. My surgery was at CMQ Premiere Hospital. There are pictures of the hospital room in my photos section.

8. DID I GET TO MEET ANYONE WHO HAD USED HIM PRIOR TO DECIDING UPON HIM: I did not get a chance to meet anyone else who had used him. There were some patients from the US., but they weren't available to be used as references.  He does have some interviews on his website. I watched those. I couldn't find anyone besides Spanish speaking people from his practice in Mexico. So I looked at his education, experience (200+WLS), mortality rate (0%), complication rate (less than a 1/2%), and the fact that he does the surgery laproscopically, and took a leap of faith. 

9. DO I KNOW HIS STATS: Yes. He has done over 200+ WLS, has a mortality rate of 0%, and a complication rate of less than 1/2%, and he only does 2 surgeries per day. Besides his mortality rate and complication rate, the number of surgeries he had completed was one of the questions I asked Hazel. Amazingly, he has far more experience than any US doctor I considered. Likely because the VSG was approved in Mexico long before being approved in the US. It is also a bonus that he does do it laproscopically, most do but not all. 

10. DOES HE SPEAK ENGLISH: Yes he does. Yes, he has an accent, but he is perfectly understandable. (Remember, to him, WE have accents too!). Yes, most of his team also spoke English. Some of the nurses in the hospital didn't readily speak English, but what English they understood combined with what Spanish I understand made it work. 

A couple of other things you may want to know:
For a VSG, the size sleeve he does is 32.
He does use a drainage tube, which he removed prior to my discharge from the hospital.
He does give prescriptions post-op. One for pain and for for gall bladder. They were easy (and less expensive) to fill in Mexico. 
He recommends two weeks off from work after surgery. AND I strongly agree if it is at all possible! 
He expects that you have arranged for a doctor to follow your progress back home post-op. Even so, he does want to get monthly updates, just to make sure things are going well. 


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