How to Choose a Weight Loss Surgeon: Selecting a Bariatric Surgeon
Most people try non-surgical weight loss techniques for years before considering weight loss surgery. Bariatric surgery, as it is formally called, is often the last resort. Weight loss surgery can be a life-changing, even life-saving procedure. And the one person who plays a critical role in this journey is your bariatric surgeon. Not every surgeon will be a good fit for you.
Which brings us to an important question – how do you choose a weight loss surgeon?
Here are some of the factors you should consider.
Research and Referrals
The Internet is a treasure trove of information at your fingertips. It pays to do a little research before zeroing in on your weight loss surgeon. Shortlist some surgeons in your area and look up their social media profiles. This will allow you to learn more about them and their program.
Read patient testimonials and satisfaction surveys. Go onto online forums to see what others are saying. Connect with previous patients online to get a first-hand report of a surgeon’s bedside manner.
Some websites, such as Healthgrades and ZocDoc, rate doctors based on several criteria. You can also ask friends, family, and healthcare providers for references.
Experience and Credentials
Another important factor to consider when you’re choosing a weight loss surgeon is experience and credentials. Board certification, training, skills, and experience are all important. Your surgeon should ideally be board certified in general surgery. Another designation to look for is a Fellow of the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (FASMBS).
You can check for any disciplinary actions or malpractice claims against a surgeon on the Federation of State Medical Boards website. This website will also give you information about the surgeon’s board certifications and active licenses.
It’s a good idea to choose a surgeon who is experienced in performing the type of weight loss surgery you’re going to have (lap band, sleeve gastrectomy, or gastric bypass). Studies have shown that the more experienced a surgeon is in performing a bariatric procedure, the lower is the rate of serious complications in the early postoperative period.
Your interaction with your weight loss surgeon will not end on the day of your surgery. Your bariatric surgeon will play an important role in your postoperative recovery and the lifestyle changes that are necessary for weight loss success. That’s why it’s important to develop a good understanding with your surgeon.
There is no right or wrong surgeon, it’s more of a subjective feeling. Some surgeons just “feel right.” You should trust your instinct. For example, a highly-rated surgeon may be super busy and may not have the time to answer all your questions, leaving you feeling uneasy and anxious. They may not be the best choice for you.
You should be able to ask your surgeon whatever questions are on your mind. The consultations should not feel rushed. The surgeon you choose should help you make decisions without being overbearing. You may feel more comfortable with a surgeon of a particular gender because of the need to discuss personal information.
Hospital Quality and Location
A weight loss surgeon does not work alone, but rather with a team of healthcare providers at a hospital. It’s important to consider the quality of care at the hospital where you’ll have your weight loss procedure. Hospitals with high standards in patient care often have some of the lowest postsurgical complication rates.
Also, you’ll need to travel to the hospital for postoperative support and follow-up visits, so the hospital’s location is important. A 400-mile drive to see a top-rated surgeon may not seem like a big deal the first time, but it can quickly become exhausting.
Insurance Coverage and Cost
Bariatric surgery costs thousands of dollars. Therefore, one of the practical matters in choosing a weight loss surgeon is insurance coverage. Pick a bariatric surgeon who participates in your plan. This will ensure you get maximum insurance benefits and minimal out-of-pocket expenses.
Choosing a bariatric surgeon can feel overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be complicated. You have access to some of the highest trained surgeons and the best healthcare in the world. Begin your weight loss journey with confidence. Just keep in mind these tips on how to choose a weight loss surgeon.