8 Tips on How to Choose a Bariatric Surgeon
by Brenda Hoehn on Sep 22, 2023
Once you’ve made the decision to have bariatric surgery, it's natural to feel overwhelmed with questions and uncertainties.
You may be wondering where to start, which doctor to choose, if your insurance will cover this procedure, and what support you can expect after surgery. No matter which weight loss surgery you decide to have, you will want to make sure you are in the right hands.
In this article, we will share 8 tips to help you find the best bariatric surgeon who will provide the support, expertise, and care you need on this life-changing path. You deserve to be in the hands of a skilled professional who will guide you every step of the way.
#1. Get Referrals
To begin, obtain a list of recommended weight loss surgeons from your primary care doctor or a specialist. You can also seek recommendations from family, friends, and other healthcare professionals.
Researching the credentials and experience of doctors is important and can be done on healthgrades.com. After narrowing down your list, call each surgeon’s office and ask for a consultation. These appointments to meet and interview the surgeon are generally free.
#2. Research Credentials
Look for a board-certified bariatric surgeon. This certification says the doctor has the necessary skills, training, and experience to provide surgical care.
Confirm that the surgeon has no history of malpractice claims or disciplinary actions as well. You can find this, as well as their medical school, training, and certifications, on healthgrades.com and state websites.
#3. Consider the Bariatric Surgeon’s Experience
Experience in performing bariatric surgery is also important. Look for a Fellow of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (FASMBS). This designation means they perform a minimum of 25 ASMBS-approved bariatric procedures annually.
Find out about complication rates, too. You’ll want to know about the complications the surgeon has experienced and your own risk of complications.
#4. Evaluate the Surgeon’s Communication Style
Find a surgeon who takes time to understand you and your goals. Do they welcome your questions and answer them in a way you understand? Do they consider your treatment preferences and respect your decision-making process?
You’ll want a surgeon you feel comfortable trusting with your health and well-being.
#5. Consider the Hospital Quality
Check out the quality of care provided at the hospital. This matters because patients who undergo weight loss surgery at hospitals with a 5-star performance rating experience fewer complications.
Ideally, choose a bariatric-accredited facility through the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP). This accreditation promotes uniform standard benchmarks and supports continuous quality improvement.
Also, look for a program with a Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence (BSCOE) designation. This means the program submits quality data to the MBSAQIP and has performed 25-50 bariatric surgeries, 25 procedures for a low acuity program, and 50 stapling procedures for an inpatient program.
What’s more, take into account the hospital’s location. Weight loss surgery requires many appointments before and after surgery, and traveling a long distance can be costly. This makes it more difficult to stick to follow-up recommendations with providers.
#6. Read Patient Reviews
Patient reviews are helpful when making a decision. They offer valuable insight into how a doctor practices medicine and runs their practice.
Reviews typically reflect on the experience had with scheduling appointments, wait times, the office environment, and office friendliness. They can also delve into how well patients trust the doctor and how much time the doctor spends with patients.
#7. Know What Your Insurance Covers
Weight loss surgery can be costly. You may need to choose a bariatric surgeon who participates in your health insurance plan. That way, you can receive the most benefits and pay less for out-of-pocket costs.
#8. Inquire About Follow-Up Care
Surgery is just the beginning of your journey. After surgery, you will need follow-up care.
It’s important for a dietitian to be involved in managing your new dietary regimen and guiding you in the right direction to better eating habits. Also, look for a surgeon who offers post-operative support groups and helps you get the physical therapy, exercise, nutrition, counseling, and psychological support you might need.
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