Pathway to Surgery
How to Choose a Surgeon
Choosing your surgeon is a very important step. One of the first points to consider is the surgeon’s experience performing bariatric surgery. The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery found that experienced surgeons had significantly reduced bariatric surgery complication rates. Your surgeon should have experience performing your particular procedure—whether it’s gastric bypass or gastric banding, and whether it’s performed as a minimally invasive or open procedure.
You may want to take the opportunity to speak with the surgeon’s patients. Patients willing to refer family, friends, and interested candidates are a good indication of the surgeon’s quality. Another good gauge of quality is a Center of Excellence (COE) designation. COE programs and surgeons must meet strict criteria relating to quality of care in order to be designated a COE.
A third point to consider is commitment to your success. Your surgeon should provide post-op care through follow-up appointments, support-group resources, and other information as needed. Your success is likely to be enhanced by all three.
Making informed decisions and knowing what to expect can help you achieve success and manage challenges.
- If you have health insurance, find out if bariatric surgery is covered. If not, find out if the surgeon or bariatric program offers financing options.
- Attend information seminars and support groups to compare surgeons and programs in your area.
- Prepare a list of questions for your surgeon.
Questions to Ask
Part of finding a surgeon is asking questions. You should feel free to ask questions, and you should receive complete and clear answers. If you don’t, ask for clarification. The more you know and understand, the better you will be able to make an informed and confident decision. Visit the Resource Library for easy-to-print lists of questions.
Questions to Ask Your Surgeon
- Are you board certified?
- Are you a member of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery?
- Which bariatric procedures have you performed this year? How many of each specific type?
- How many minimally invasive bariatric procedures have you performed? And, what is your “conversion to open” rate?
- Are the benefits of surgery worth the potential risks for me?
- What are your complication and mortality rates?
- What are your most common complications?
- Does the hospital have experienced, dedicated bariatric surgical teams in the operating and recovery rooms, the intensive care unit, and medical/surgical unit?
- What is the average weight loss your patients achieve?
- What is the average co-morbid resolution/improvement rate for your patients?
- Do you have patients who are willing to share their experiences, both positive and negative?
- What is your average “wait time?”
Questions to Ask Your Bariatric Program Coordinator
- Is the program a Center of Excellence?
- Does the program offer evaluation and treatment for co-morbid conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea?
- Does the program have staff members to assist me through the insurance approval process?
- Does the program offer support before and after surgery?
- Does the program offer services for accommodations and travel plans for out-of-town patients?
Questions to Ask Your Support Group and/or Mental Health Professional
- How do I know if I’m emotionally and mentally ready for surgery?
- How do I get the support of family and friends?
- How will I deal with the rapid weight loss that follows surgery?
- After surgery, how will I work through the specific issues associated with dietary and exercise changes?
- What effect will my new, healthier lifestyle have on my family and me?