Choosing a Bariatric Surgeon; Things to Consider

How to Choose a Bariatric Surgeon, choosing a bariatric surgeonBariatric surgery is the answer to obesity for many people. The process to get to the actual surgery can be frustrating and time-consuming. It is important to be patient and have a plan of getting to the goal. You will need to go through multiple steps to get to the surgery and several steps after in order to find success. The first step is to choose the best bariatric surgeon for the work ahead. There are several things to consider when choosing the right bariatric surgeon for your weight loss surgery.

Insurance Coverage

While you might want to simply select your own bariatric surgeon, the fact of the matter is that you need to be able to pay for the surgery and if you are going through an insurance company for this, they might have something to say about who you select as your bariatric surgeon. Many insurance companies will provide you with a list of surgeons that they cover your area. This is an excellent place to start with and you may want to request it so that you can look it over.

Some insurance companies do not have a specific list of surgeons, but instead, require that they have specific qualifications and certifications in order to cover the surgery. Many of the insurance carriers, including Medicare and Medicaid, require that the surgeon is a member of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) and they are working within an ASMBS Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence. These criteria are a common requirement by many insurance companies. You may also want to find out if the surgeon is board-certified by the American Osteopathic Board of Surgery or the American Board of Surgery. This indicates that they have had and continue to attain the education needed to understand current advances in bariatric surgery.

Type of Surgery

The next step in choosing a surgeon is considering what type of bariatric surgery you are considering. You may have discussed some of the options with your primary care physician and decided what you think is best for you. You might be looking for a surgeon to perform an adjustable Lap-band surgery, gastric sleeve surgery or gastric bypass.

These are the three most common forms of bariatric surgery that patients choose with the help of their physicians. Each surgery requires a different skill set from the surgeon and have a different level of invasiveness to the body. Lap-band is the least invasive and is reversible. Gastric sleeve surgery is typically accomplished with laparoscopic equipment. Gastric bypass most commonly is provided as an open surgery and is the most labor intensive for the surgeon.

Meet with the Surgeons on Your Short List

After you have narrowed down the options some you will want to make an appointment to meet with the surgeon. This meeting is going to help you determine which surgeon is the best suited for you and your situation. It is important that you feel comfortable discussing things with the surgeon.

Surgeon and Patient Interaction

There is significant work and interaction that will need to be accomplished both before and after the surgery involving the surgeon and yourself. The surgeon should listen to what you have for concerns and provide you with adequate feedback. You want to leave the conversation feeling as though the surgeon understands your lifestyle situation and your goals. They should be a part of your team for good health and weight loss.

Ask the surgeon to talk about the entire process with you from beginning to end. Stop him or her when you have any questions about the procedure. The surgeon should be more than happy to discuss any concerns that you have and be able to put the information into terms that you can fully understand. If they seem unwilling to answer your questions or frustrated by them, you probably want to consider another surgeon for the job.

You will want to find out how long the surgeon has been in practice and more importantly, how long they have been doing these particular types of procedures. They should be able to tell you the success rate of such a procedure and whether they have had any procedures that failed. If a follow-up procedure is necessary you want to also know that the surgeon can handle the task. Starting over with a new surgeon mid-way through could make it difficult to find success.

Facility and Resources

You want to consider the facility and staff that the surgeon has at the ready for you during and after your surgery. You want to be sure that they have staff that is sufficient to handle your situation. If the facility is considered a Center of Excellence in bariatric surgery they will have the following:

  • Have completed a set number of bariatric surgery procedures in the previous year.
  • Has a Bariatric Coordinator on board that assists in the smooth operation of the surgery and works with the patient to meet their needs.
  • Has a staff that has completed additional training regarding weight loss surgery and how to work with bariatric patients for success.
  • Their name should be located on the Surgical Review Board website as a Center of Excellence.

Working with a surgeon that has a facility with the right criteria can dramatically affect the outcome of your surgical experience. In addition, you want to be sure that they have access to the best resources for your care before, during and after the surgery. Many surgeons require that the patients undergo lab testing, x-rays, and some pre-surgery examinations before allowing you to go through the surgery. Having the testing facilities right at the same location as the procedure is a good way to simplify the process for you.

Available Staff

After the surgery, you will be staying at the facility for a few days and you may be asked to work with other specialists to ensure the success of the weight loss surgery. These might include a nutritionist, fitness professional, and a counselor. Having these professionals easily accessible to you at the same facility can make the process go much more smoothly. It can also provide you with the best way to ensure that you are following the process through from beginning to end and getting the best chance at success. The resources for care after your surgery are equally as important as those during the surgery. Be sure that you learn what will be necessary for the long run and make sure that you have access to these things.

Choosing the right surgeon to perform your bariatric surgery is vital to your success. It will set the foundation for a long-term weight loss and maintenance plan. The right surgeon will work with you from the start of the process through the work that needs to be done after the surgery has been completed. One of the most important pieces of information that you will need to decide on the surgeon is whether you have a good feeling about them or not. Follow your instincts to some degree after you have done your homework and narrowed down the options best on qualifications. Bariatric surgery is about more than just the surgery and requires a lifelong commitment from the patient and aftercare by the surgeon to get the best results.

 

Related Resources:

Surgeon of Excellence Overview – Surgical Review –  http://www.surgicalreview.org/soembs/overview/

Choosing the Right Bariatric Surgeon – Weight Loss Center AR –http://www.weightlosscenterar.com/bariatric-procedures/getting-started/choosing-the-right-bariatric-surgeon.php

Find a Bariatric Surgeon – American College of Surgeons https://www.facs.org/search/find-a-surgeon