Bariatric surgery is sometimes the only answer to lose weight and treat obesity for many people. The process of choosing a bariatric surgeon and everything that goes into to planning the weight loss surgery can be frustrating and time-consuming. It is important to be patient and have a plan for reaching your milestones and goals. You will need to go through multiple steps before bariatric surgery and several steps after surgery in order to find long-term success.
The first step to bariatric surgery is choosing a bariatric surgeon to be by your side throughout the life-changing event ahead. The best surgeon is one who will fulfill your expectations while being trusted, affordable, and safe. There are several important factors to consider when you’re ready to choose the right bariatric surgeon for your weight loss journey.
Insurance Coverage: Does the Bariatric Surgeon Accept Insurance?
While you might want to select your own bariatric surgeon, you want to make sure you can pay for the surgery even with insurance. 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 don’t have a specific list of surgeons, so they require that you 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). 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.
What Type of Bariatric Surgery and is the Bariatric Surgeon Qualified?
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 skillset 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 open surgery and is the most labor-intensive for the surgeon.
Meet with the Bariatric Surgeons: Appointment, Call, or Skype
After you have narrowed down the options some you will want to make an appointment to meet with the bariatric 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. As a second option, meet with the bariatric surgeon through a phone call or even skype chat.
Bariatric Surgeon and Patient Interaction
There are 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 would be happy to discuss any concerns that you have. If they seem unwilling to answer your questions or frustrated with them, you probably want to consider another surgeon for the job.
You want to know how much experience the surgeon has done the surgery. They should be able to tell you the success rate of every procedure and what procedures have 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.
Bariatric Facility, Staff, and Resources Offered
You want to consider the bariatric facility and staff that the surgeon will utilize during your weight loss procedure. Ask questions and understand who will be with you during and after your bariatric surgery. You want to be sure that the bariatric surgeon’s staff is sufficient to handle your surgical procedure with a low complication rate. If the facility is considered a Center of Excellence in bariatric surgery they will have the following:
- 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 bariatric surgeon that has a facility, staff, and resources with the right criteria can dramatically affect the outcome of your surgical procedure. 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 bariatric surgeons require patients to undergo lab testing, x-rays, or some pre-surgery examinations before weight loss procedure. Having the testing facilities at the same location as the procedure is a good way to simplify the bariatric process you choose.
Available Bariatric Staff
After undergoing bariatric surgery, you will be staying at the facility for a few days. You may be asked to work with other specialists to ensure the success of your weight loss surgery. These might include a nutritionist, fitness professional, or counselor.
Having the bariatric staff easily accessible to you at the same facility can make the process go much more smoothly. It can provide you the best success and ensure you are following the whole process. 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 a bariatric surgeon to perform your weight loss surgery is vital to your success. It will set the foundation for a long-term weight loss and maintenance plan for your future. The right bariatric surgeon will work with you throughout your entire process and be there for you.
Follow your instincts to some degree after you have done your homework and narrowed down the best-qualified options. Bariatric surgery requires a lifelong commitment from the patient and aftercare by the surgeon to get the best results.
Surgeon of Excellence Overview – Surgical Review – http://www.surgicalreview.org/soembs/overview/
Find a Bariatric Surgeon – American College of Surgeons https://www.facs.org/search/find-a-surgeon