You’ve done your research and have decided you’re ready for bariatric surgery. The next step is choosing a bariatric surgeon who will help you achieve your weight loss goals. But, it’s certainly not as simple as picking up the phone book. When searching for a bariatric surgeon, there are certain criteria which that surgeon must meet. Taking the time to research your surgeon’s credentials will guarantee you have selected an experienced surgeon who will help your surgical weight loss go smoothly.
What to look for in a bariatric surgeon
Weight loss surgery can lead to rapid weight loss and improved health. But, like many surgical procedures, bariatric surgery also has risks. Take the time to find a bariatric surgeon who you can trust. Your doctor’s education, credentials, and experience are all important factors to keep in mind as you look for a bariatric surgeon.
Finding an experienced surgeon is important. The amount of experience a surgeon has may affect the outcome of any surgery. Knowing how many bariatric surgeries your doctor has performed is a good way to gauge their experience--the more the better! To learn if your surgeon has the necessary experience, check to see if they are a member of the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. Members of the ASMBS have to meet a variety of strict standards.
ASMBS members must:
- Have performed at least 25 bariatric surgeries, as the primary surgeon, within the last two years.
- Be board certified by the American Board of Surgery or the American Osteopathic Board of Surgery and/or is a Fellow of the American or Royal College of Surgeons
- Submit letter of recommendation forms from two current Regular or Senior (previously Regular) members.
You should also find out what your doctor specializes in. Laparoscopic surgeries are often prefered since they tend to be less painful, have shorter recovery times and have fewer potential complications. So, a doctor who specializes in Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy, Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Band, Laparoscopic Gastric Bypass or revisional bariatric surgery such as converting a failed LAGB to the Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy, would be a good choice.
The more experience your doctor has with a variety of bariatric surgeries, the more he will be able to individualize care for you depending on your body mass index, comorbidities, personal goals and your lifestyle.
What to look for in your surgeon’s bariatric center:
Finding an experienced bariatric surgery specialist is important, but so is finding a state of the art bariatric center. Look for a comprehensive surgical weight loss center, which will provide you with well-rounded patient care.
The comprehensive surgical weight loss center you choose should follow the National Institute of Health guidelines for bariatric surgery. These guidelines are in place for the health and safety of patients. If the center you’re researching follows them, you can be sure they provide patient-centered care. NIH guidelines require a psychological evaluation and a nutritional assessment before bariatric surgery.
A high-quality bariatric surgery center will also have a wealth of resources for its patients. These resources could include:
- affiliation with nearby hospitals
- nutritional appointments
- support groups
- weight loss seminars
- insurance coordinators
Some centers are also affiliated with board certified plastic surgeons. After patients have achieved their weight loss goals, some may wish to continue their transformation. If this happens, it’s always good to have a highly recommended plastic surgeon in mind.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when you’re looking for a bariatric surgeon is that you should feel comfortable with them. Your surgeon should make it easy for you to come to them with questions and concerns. You know your health is important, so find a bariatric surgeon who agrees!