One of the most important decisions that a prospective bariatric patient can make, is choosing which weight loss surgeon is best for them. The key is to understand that there is no “best” surgeon for everyone. Rather, the surgeon that best addresses the patient’s needs is probably the right surgeon. Choosing a surgeon should be a thorough and thoughtful process and the particulars of each program can vary significantly; even if the procedures are largely the same.
- A surgeon’s experience in the procedure being considered is extremely important. Not every surgeon is experienced in every bariatric procedure and studies show that choosing an experienced surgeon can result in better outcomes and fewer complications. Choosing a surgeon that has experience in the procedure of your choice is an important first step.
- A surgeon’s dedication to continuing education is also very important. Surgical techniques have changed significantly from the first bariatric procedures to today, and it is important that your surgeon is abreast of the most current surgical trends.
- Choosing an ASMBS Center of Excellence surgeon is yet another layer of help in your decision-making process. The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery has a strict set of criteria for certification, meaning that surgeons with this designation have proven above-average results and below-average complication rates. While a Center of Excellence designation does not mean that the surgeon is right for you, it can be helpful.
- Speaking to a surgeon’s former patients may also give you an idea of what to expect from the practice. Some people require more attention than others, and some are more comfortable with certain personalities than others. It is important to fully evaluate your surgeon’s bedside manner, as well as the facilities at which they perform the surgery.
- Finally, it is important to ensure that the support you receive, before, during and after surgery is of the highest quality. Financial advisers can help guide you through the process of paying for surgery, while support staff including exercise physiologists and dieticians can help you be as successful as possible after surgery.
Ultimately choosing a surgeon requires time, patience and research. Attend seminars and even drop by a support group or two. You will be happy that you spent the time making the right decision.