Puerto Vallarta, the sleepy little Mexican fishing village that's no longer sleepy or little is located at the same latitude as Maui, Hawaii. Being at that latitude, Vallarta experiences the same perfect daily temperatures as Maui from November through May averaging about 73°F. However Vallarta is much more hospitable for vacationing or retirement during those months because it experiences an average monthly rainfall of less than 0.4 inches, whereas Maui receives anywhere from 1.7 to 2.6 inches of rain per month depending upon your location on the island. Additionally, Vallarta is located a short two to four hours from most US cities while Maui is six to ten hours from most mainland US cities.
Now that we know that Vallarta is conveniently located south of the border, we ask; what does this Paradise in the foothills of the Sierra Madres on the Pacific Ocean have to do with the Fountain of Youth? Well, it just so happens that thousands of North Americans that visit Vallarta every year arrive looking pale, wrinkled, obese, and or with dental problems and return home a week or two later looking tan, younger, thinner, and or with clean white and straight teeth!
One might attribute these miraculous conversions during such short vacations to either visiting the Fountain of Youth or if that explanation doesn't pass muster, to undergoing various modern medical procedures!
Puerto Vallarta is home to three large new fully equipped modern hospitals with a fourth currently under construction as well as numerous high tech dental clinics and the modern Ameri-Med Clinic. Puerto Vallarta is also proud to be the home of some very competent, highly qualified and experienced gastroenterologists, bariatric surgeons, internists, cosmetic and reconstructive surgeons, dental surgeons, etc., many of which have received partial training in the US and virtually all are fluent in English.
It's common knowledge that for many years, North Americans have headed south of the border for various cosmetic procedures. Not only are they able to have the procedures done and fully recuperate in anonymity but they do so at a fraction of the cost of having them done in the States. Today, there are many excellent plastic surgeons in Vallarta performing liposculptures, face lifts, eyelid surgeries, nose surgeries, breast augmentations, tummy tucks, and approximately 40 other cosmetic and reconstructive procedures on a daily basis.
What is not so well known is that various bariatric procedures are also being performed laparoscopically on a daily basis in Vallarta. These procedures include Roux-en-Y gastric bypasses, gastric sleeve resections, and adjustable gastric "lap" bands. One of the talented local surgeons has performed more than 1,000 such procedures; approximately 40% bypasses, 40% sleeves, and 20% lap bands. (As a side note of interest, this surgeon, with the assistance of another of these talented internists, recently laparoscopically removed the author's ruptured appendix!)
The costs of these laparoscopic bariatric surgical procedures vary slightly from one to another but on the average are about 2/3 of what they would be in the States. A typical "package" would be about $10,000 US and would include all hospital and doctor charges as well as the flight and accommodations in a fine resort hotel. Yes, that's right; basically a free vacation in Paradise plus world class medical care for less than the cost back home where all your friends and neighbors can ask questions and watch you recover!
For those of you not familiar with laparoscopy, you may know someone who has had his or her gallbladder removed, had an appendectomy, or had a hernia repaired laparoscopically and was up and around in just a couple days. Thanks to both the skill of the surgeon and advances in technology, laparoscopic techniques, often referred to as minimally invasive techniques, are being applied to a growing number of procedures and someday will likely replace open surgical procedures in many other areas.
The main advantage of this safe new technique is that there is no need for large incisions. Instead, the surgeon operates through the belly button and a couple other small openings about the size of buttonholes, while viewing the patient's internal organs on a TV monitor using an internal camera. Laparoscopy is setting new standards for patient care because it allows surgeons to perform many operations without the trauma and pain associated with a large incision. Since there are no large incisions to heal, patients have less pain and recover sooner; hence, the cost of laparoscopic procedures are usually substantially less than those with conventional entries because the hospital stays are greatly reduced.
Okay, now that you've just shed 100 pounds, had a quick tummy-tuck and perhaps a little liposculpture work, it's time for some tanning in the warm winter PV sun; after all, the flight and part of the accommodations were included in your "package"! Give yourself a week of rest and relaxation in one of Vallarta's fitness centers and perhaps then you'll be ready for a face lift, a breast augmentation, or maybe even a mouthful of straight white teeth!
There are many fine dentists in Vallarta where fillings, root canals, bonding and bleaching are commonplace. There are also a number of highly trained excellent dental surgeons that specialize in caps, crowns, bridges, dentures, and implants, all at a fraction of the cost of the same in the States. Of course, the simple procedures are practiced in the many local dentists' offices whereas the more complex procedures are done in the more sophisticated clinics and hospitals where they have all of the latest in modern equipment and facilities.
The bottom line is; today's medical and dental care in Puerto Vallarta is virtually world class and prices are a fraction of those in the US. If elective, non-insured medical procedures are in your plans, you should seriously consider the modern facilities and excellent doctors and dentists in PV. There is not a better place on the planet for recuperating after surgery than in Vallarta during the beautiful winter months of November through May. Upon returning home, your friends will be duly impressed when they see you proudly "strut your stuff", as you inform them that you rediscovered the Fountain of Youth while vacationing in Paradise!
Jim Scherrer has owned property in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for 25 years and resided there for the past eleven years. The mission of his series of 50 articles pertaining to retirement in Puerto Vallarta is to reveal the recent changes that have occurred in Vallarta while dispelling the misconceptions about living conditions in Mexico. For the full series of articles regarding travel to and retirement in Vallarta as well as pertinent Puerto Vallarta links, please visit us at PVREBA.