Having a bariatric surgery is not a fast and immediate solution to your weight problems. Yes, the procedure may only take a few hours, but you still have to wait at least six or eight months to confirm if you are a viable candidate for a bariatric surgery. You should follow a rigid diet plan to see the results you wanted. Keep in mind that a weight loss surgery does not work like magic, after a year of losing weight through the surgery, you will be responsible for disciplining yourself to keep your weight.
Finding the right weight loss surgeon is one of the most important tasks you need to do. You will continuously work with him or her for at the first year of your surgery and a couple more times during post-operation. For you to ensure success in your weight loss journey, you ought to join weight loss seminars every month for at least a year to keep yourself on the right track.
Every bariatric surgeon will recommend you a procedure that they think will best suit you. Since some surgeons do not necessarily perform all types of bariatric surgeries, you will need to have a one-on-one consultation with them to discuss your options.
Remember, you are not just choosing for the best bariatric surgeon; you are also choosing their dietician, personal trainer, bariatric coordinator, and all the other services they provide to fully equip you in reaching your weight loss goals. That is why we have gathered 10 critical questions that you can ask during your first consultation.
- ) Tell me about your experience in minimally invasive bariatric surgery.
Experience is paramount when you measure the surgical skills of a doctor. However, it is unwise to consider the surgeon with the most number of cases to be the most skilled, there are other factors you need to consider. Oftentimes a young surgeon who comes from quality training may not have the same amount of bariatric cases as a veteran surgeon who has been performing weight loss surgeries for a decade.
Do not immediately cross off in your list a young bariatric surgeon. Experience is also gained by joining quality minimally invasive and bariatric surgery fellowship programs. What is a bariatric fellowship program? It is generally a program for a span of 2 years where surgeons are trained by another surgeon who specializes in that specific surgical field. A bariatric surgeon has to allocate another 2 years to improve their surgical skills in bariatric procedures after their standard training.
At the end of the day, if everything is equal, the bariatric doctor who has more cases will be more capable to handle difficult cases. You are assured that they have already honed their techniques, and they provide quality resources and aftercare programs to help you continue living a healthy life.
2.) What kind of bariatric procedures do you perform?
Not every surgeon performs every bariatric procedure. However, there could a good reason why they are not offering every procedure to specific patients.
Some surgeons offer minimally invasive bariatric surgeries, but they do not offer sleeve gastrectomy, revision surgeries, and alike. Why? The reason could be that they found out, through their experience, that laparoscopic surgeries offer more benefits for the patients with fewer complications after surgery. This is an acceptable reason for not offering the weight loss surgery. In fact, it may indicate that your surgeon is more concerned with your success than he is with gaining more money by offering another surgery that you may want.
However, there are some surgeons that only offer one procedure and make it sound like it is the best option for you. I highly recommend you to sit through a weight loss surgery seminar with another surgeon who offers more than just one option before jumping the gun.
3.) What kind of services and resources do you provide?
Most patients overlook this part during their first consultation with their bariatric surgeon. As mentioned in the first part of the article, bariatric surgery is a lifelong journey. Patients who were successful in achieving their weight goals dedicated their time to intentionally change their habits and learning effective ways to maintain their healthy weight, and they have surrounded themselves with supportive family and friends that assist and encourages them.
A good weight loss surgeon knows that the success of your weight loss does not solely depend on his skills on the operating table. In order to reach your goals, he should also have the right team who are truly concerned with your overall health. It is important that you are comfortable working closely with them. The dietitian and the rest of the bariatric team should be good listeners and who will give you sound advice about your specific and unique needs.
Moreover, your bariatric surgeon should offer quality seminars for weight loss and support groups for patients. During the consultation, ask if you can attend one of these meetings. In general, support groups are held once a month. The bariatric seminar topics range from, ‘Foods you need to avoid before and after bariatric surgery,’ to ‘Relationship Challenges before and after Weight-loss Surgery.’
A few weight loss surgeons offer their patients smartphone applications to help them stay connected. The availability of all these resources is important factors that will help you in your journey.
4.) What are your complication rates?
Complication rates for each procedure vary. According to the study published in the JAMA on the year 2010, complication rates for gastric bypass during surgery were 3.6%, while gastric sleeve surgery was 2.2%, and minimally invasive surgery was 0.9%.
When you are interviewing your surgeon, you should keep these rates in mind. It will give you an idea what his or her rates should be around the national average.
5.) What type of medical tests do I need before surgery?
Most bariatric surgeons require their patients to pass a thorough physical evaluation and psychological testing to make sure that they are in the best shape and condition for the procedure. To know more about the preparations and test you need to undergo before your surgery you can read more information in our blog
6.) What bariatric procedure do you recommend for me?
There is not one procedure that is suitable for everyone. You need to ask your doctor what he or she think is best for you. In order for him or her to recommend the right procedure to you, he or she must know you well. The bariatric surgeon should ask you about your health issues, lifestyle, risk tolerances, exercise and lifestyle habits.
A good bariatric surgeon should not coerce you into having the procedure he or she wants for you. Instead, he or she should educate you with the risks and benefits accompanied with each procedure. You should not make a rush decision and it is fine to take your time to consider your options.
All doctors are busy but a good weight loss doctor will take his time to sit with you and explain to you the procedures. If you notice that a surgeon seems in a rush during your first appointment then you can safely assume that he or she will do the same in the future interactions.
7.) Does the hospital have staff trained specifically to care for weight loss surgery patients?
Every weight loss surgery patient has different needs. It is critical that you choose a facility that can meet all of your needs. This includes specialized equipment such as computed axial tomography scanners, hospital beds, gowns, operating tables, blood pressure cuffs, and alike.
The risk of complications from anesthesia can be higher for obese patients, so it will be beneficial to have an experienced anesthesiologist nearby.
8.) Do I qualify for a surgical or non-surgical bariatric procedure?
Individuals who are severely obese with a BMI over 40 or 35 with health issues related to obesity are good candidates for surgical bariatric procedures. In some cases, people who have a BMI of 30 with severe comorbidities can consider having a bariatric surgery.
9.) Is the procedure irreversible?
Only a few bariatric surgeries are reversible or adjustable such as laparoscopic band surgery. Make sure you are ready to undergo a permanent procedure and ask your bariatric surgeon about the available options you have.
10.) Can you tell me why should I choose you and your team?
It is uncommon for a bariatric surgeon to be asked with this, but it might be interesting to hear out their response.
What kind of response is right?
It totally depends on you. In my case, I highly appreciate it when the weight loss surgeon tells me how much he is passionate in his work and why he is dedicated to helping me with my weight loss journey. The answer that I would not probably like is when the doctor touts his skills.
The questions above are intended to help you analyze if this is the right bariatric surgeon for you or you should consider other surgeons that offer better services. And, it is totally fine. Weight loss surgery heralds the beginning to your new lease in life. Start it off on the right foot by making good decisions. Take time to study and explore your options.
If you need more information, feel free to read more on our website or talk with an expert by contacting us.