We encourage you to spend 5 minutes of your life reading through the following information.  We encourage you not to skip over it because it is longer than your average Facebook post.  Hopefully, the info will assist you in your decision as well as give you information to provide to your family or friends who may question your decision.

Is it safe to go overseas for surgery?

This question comes up regularly from people who don’t understand what it is you are doing and have misconceptions about overseas surgery in general. Let’s be clear, any surgery whether performed in Australia, Asia, the USA or the Moon comes with risks.  An intelligent person will analyse the facts and weigh up the risks, they won’t discount an option because they read it on Facebook, or someone with equally misconceived ideas told them.

Where are you considering surgery?

First, have a look at the overseas destination.  Does it have a fact-based reputation for ‘things going wrong’?  Is it that the country is risky, or are particular facilities in the country are risky?  You can use some basic logic to filter this as well.   A third world country by definition may have a lower medical standard than a first world country.  But again, this is not always the case.  Like Australia, most countries in the world have private medical facilities where people pay to have procedures carried out as opposed to a government-funded facility.  Sometimes, not always, the facility can be first-rate in a country with a third world reputation.

Who is performing the surgery?

This is important.  If you don’t know WHO the surgeon is that will be operating on you, that is; you just have a hospital and it is ‘whomever’ is available, then the risks are higher.  Being able to research a surgeon and understand their qualifications, experience and get to know them by their reputation is really important.  If you can’t find information about the surgeon, ask the hospital!

Is Australia the ‘be all and end all’ of health care?

No. It’s not. Things go wrong here all the time, but the Australian medical fraternity does a good job in keeping it’s mistakes under wraps, or at least, the media doesn’t make a big song and dance about it. Bottom line, a surgeon is only as good as his/her training, experience and qualifications.   You can see for the public record though when it comes to bariatric surgery, complications, and issues that occur here.

Monash University has a registry and compiles a lot of information in annual reports about surgery here in Australia.  One of the interesting facts is complications.  The below is extracted from the Fifth Report of the Bariatric Surgery Registry, page 29.  We don’t add this here to degrade the Australian Health Care system, however, a lot of GP’s and medical professionals will tell patients they are ‘idiots’ or ‘crazy’ for considering going overseas to save money and that the risks are ‘higher’.  This is just to show that there are risks here in Australia as well.  24% of all ‘adverse’ events in Australia are from leaks.

Monash University Registry Reasons Listed for Defined Adverse Events in all Patients (FY16/17)

What about the Surgeons you use?

A New Life specifically and purposefully uses one single surgeon. We selected him and his team based on his reputation and skillset.  We don’t use a panel of surgeons nor do we go for the cheapest.  Dr. Tikfu Gee is a well respected and honoured Surgeon and has built a solid reputation for many years.  He has operated on hundreds of Australian patients – all without one single major adverse event.

What hospitals?

The surgeon can be constrained by the facility itself.  The equipment, the cleanliness, the standards can all have an impact on the patient.  Similarly to the process we went through finding Dr. Gee, we did the same with hospitals.  Malaysia is not a third world country.  One of it’s biggest exports is actually medical tourism.  It has a well funded Government body that oversees the industry called the Malaysian Healthcare Travel Council.  They do not allow ‘shonky’ operators and will step in if they find one.  We use one of 3 facilities.  iHeal Medical Centre, Sunway Medical Centre and PrinceCourt Medical Centre.  These three hospitals are state of the art, private and are driven to maintain their reputation with facilitators like A New Life.  That’s right. If we find a problem with a hospital, we will do something about it. Our reputation also hinges on the safety of our clients.

Our business

A New Life does one thing, and one thing well.  We facilitate gastric surgery for patients wanting to save money SAFELY.  If our patients had bad experiences, you would hear about it.  Our reputation is bound to the outcomes for our patients.  This is why we give all prospective clients ‘access’ to our existing clients!  Just ask us and we will invite you to our closed Group where you can ask anyone who has traveled with us, anything.

Process you can go through when looking at risks

  • What are the risks (identify the risks)
  • Understand the risks (evaluate the risks)
  • Accept risk when benefits outweigh the cost
  • Anticipate and manage risk by planning
  • Manage and monitor the risk

Once the exercise is completed at a ‘high level’ (eg. travel overseas) get specific.

  • What are the risks of traveling to Malaysia?
  • What is the rank of those specific risks? (eg on a scale of 1-10 and in order of highest to lowest)
  • Do the risks outweight the benefits or visa versa
  • Can you reduce the risks through planning
  • Can you manage the risks?

Once that is complete, you can then look at the individual components such as the surgeon, the hospital, the actual travel.  This will help you to understand whether the risk is a misconception, or whether it is a real and present danger.

Convincing others

Most people when they get to this stage of looking overseas have already made the decision to have gastric surgery.  You have been convinced of the benefits of gastric surgery but as you begin to communicate it to others, you will face two main challenges.

  • Telling your family and friends you are thinking of having gastric surgery
  • Telling the same people you are going overseas!

The first point you will be able to talk through with 90% of people you talk to using the same logic you used to come to the decision.

  • It’s a proven permanent weight loss solution that has worked for millions of people world-wide.
  • It’s a tool, not a silver bullet.  It allows you to gain control when your body has taken over through hormonal shifts that you can no longer control diet and exercise alone.
  • Reduces if not eliminates type 2 diabetes (or the onset), heart and blood pressure issues and other obesity-related illnesses.
  • Studies recently released are showing that gastric surgery patients are actually outliving their ‘normal’ counterparts.

The second point is more difficult because of certain misconceptions that exist.  Let’s work through them.

The Doctors in Asia are backyard hacks

Having a surgeon you can trust is important but why do people think that the best surgeons reside and practice in Australia? You see this quite regularly on Facebook.

I wouldn’t have surgery overseas if you paid me”   “The risks are much higher”  “Are you crazy??”

These comments are based on a Hollywood depiction or (ill) preconceived notions of the Asian medical fraternity rather than fact and it is simply not the case.  As many if not more (due to the population) brilliant and highly qualified and experienced surgeons reside and work in Asia as any part of the world.  Take Dato. Dr Tikfu Gee, A New Life consulting surgeon as an example.  He is one of the foremost bariatric surgeons in the world.  His reputation is well known in Australia and the rest of Asia.

  • He holds a Bachelor in Medicine
  • He has a Masters in SurgeryA Fellowship in Advanced Minimally Invasive and Bariatric Surgery
  • Is the Vice Chairman of the Malaysian Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Society
  • Is the Secretary of the Society of Endoscopic Laparoscopic Surgery Malaysia
  • He has been given the title of “Dato” in Malaysia which is the equivalent of a Knighthood for his work in the bariatric and diabetes fields.

Like ANY field of expertise, you are going to have different levels of skill and being trained in Australia DOES NOTmake you a better surgeon.

Risks and risk aversion strategies

It would be foolish to advise a client that there are no risks.  Of course, there are.  The main risk is people going over on an extremely tight budget with any allowance for contingencies.   What if you need another night in hospital due an unforeseen circumstance or you don’t feel comfortable yet to discharge?  Dr Gee who is the Consulting Surgeon for A New Life has a brilliant track record when it comes to Gastric Surgery.  In the six years he has been operating on Australians, there has not been one mortality or complication requiring return trips to Malaysia!  That’s astounding.  In Australi,a we see this all the time where rework is required, so this is a testament to his professionalism and skill as a surgeon.

Complications

What if something does ‘go wrong’?  What if you require ICU for a few weeks or the absolute worst case scenario, you are injured or suffer a mortality?  You can take out Medical Complications Cover that provides benefits specifically targeted at clients going overseas for surgery.  We are an official partner of the only Medical Complications Cover, Global Protective Solutions.  The small amount you will pay for this coverage will give you peace of mind.  Have a look at GPS’ frequently asked questions.  Or to receive a quote, please enrol using our dedicated portal.

Disclosure:  A New Life does not receive any commissions or payments from Global Protective Solutions for referrals to their program.

Summary

A New Life is a medical travel facilitator.  Our whole reputation is staked on the facilities and doctors we refer to.   With Social Media and hungry news outlets, our business would not last long if we had mortalities or major problems.   The facts is, if you plan right, use the right facilitator, the risks are the same as Australia.

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