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5 Things to Think About When Choosing a Bariatric Surgeon

Mar 27, 2019

how to choose a bariatric surgeon
Making the decision to even have bariatric surgery is a big one. It often takes many of our patients up to two years to think about it, do their research and finally make the decision. Ironically, one of the most common statements we hear from patients after surgery is "I wish I would have done it sooner!"

Nevertheless, losing weight with the help of bariatric surgery is still a process for which you certainly want to be prepared. A big part of the decision is not just whether or not to have surgery, but where should you go and who do you want your surgeon to be?

Here are five key things to think about when considering weight loss surgery:

1. Credentials
Seeking a credentialed surgeon is key as it ensures the highest standards, best outcomes, continued training and education, research and innovation on the latest advancements. Your surgeon should be:

  • Board certified in General Surgery by the American Board of Surgery, and a specialist in multiple advanced bariatric procedures.
  • An active member of several organizations, including: American College of Surgeons (FACS); American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS); and Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES).

Each Nicholson Clinic surgeon has these qualifications and memberships in addition to others. At Nicholson Clinic, we also teach and train other surgeons, both at national conferences and in the operating room. We also participate in research, contribute to various scholarly articles and have been featured as bariatric experts in various television and magazine interviews.

Keep in mind that credentials speak to the quality of both the surgeon and the hospital at which you will have your surgery. Find out if your surgeon is qualified by the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP). MBSAQIP recognizes Nick Nicholson, MD, FACS as an MBSAQIP Verified Surgeon for Baylor Scott & White Regional Medical Center at Plano. The Blue Distinction Center is another nice credential to have. Our surgeons operate at a Baylor Scott & White facility that has been awarded the Blue Distinction designation by Blue Cross Blue Shield.

2. Experience
Experience doesn’t necessarily just mean how many years has one been practicing. Some surgeons only specialize in a certain procedure or perhaps have a narrow focus. It’s better to have a surgeon who specializes in a multitude of minimally invasive bariatric and abdominal procedures so they know how to handle a variety of abdominal issues. And some might only do a small quantity each year; perhaps what some practices do all year, we might do in a month. Volume of surgeries is key! When considering a surgeon’s experience, look for:

  • Years in practice
  • Number of surgeries
  • Wide variety of procedures and techniques
  • Low complication rates

Over the past 19 years, Nicholson Clinic has helped over 15,000 patients — making it one of the most experienced clinics in the country — with low complication rates. We also have patients who travel to us from around the world to seek our care. We’ve seen patients from 48 states and 10 countries.

3. Referrals
Referrals from physicians, peer/community recognition, family/friends and even testimonials from past patients can be helpful in making your decision.

Of most importance are referrals from your physician, such as from your Primary Care Physician or a speciality doctor. Many of our patients have obesity related health conditions and are referred to us by cardiologists, gastroenterologists, endocrinologists, etc.

Peer reviews and recognitions published through various sources can be another great source. Nicholson Clinic surgeons have received a number of awards and recognitions based on peer reviews and nominations. Most recently, all three of our surgeons were named “Best Doctors in Collin County” by D Magazine. We have also received “Super Doctors” recognition by Texas Monthly. Each of these designations are selected through nominations, votes and input from other acclaimed physicians in the area. We’ve been honored to be on these lists for several years now.

4. Friends and Family
We often see husbands and wives, siblings and friends of our past patients. These patients come to us because they have witnessed first hand the transformation — not only in weight, but in health, confidence, happiness and overall demeanor. These patients have also had the opportunity to see what it’s really like going through the pre- and post-op process.

For those who do not have a family member or friend who has had surgery, on our website, you can find many testimonial videos and stories from past patients. These stories show a variety of people who underwent different types of weight loss surgery for a number of different reasons.

5. Support
Support is a significant piece of the process. A patient’s success is not just about the surgery, it’s about all the support that should come with it — before, during and after surgery.Nicholson Clinic offers pre-op, post-op and maintenance support to all of our patients. Our patients receive a multitude of support options right from the start — nutrition, fitness and psychological well-being — and it continues for life!

We have partnered with psychologists, dietitians and fitness experts to offer one-on-one support, group support and online support. Part of our unique program at Nicholson Clinic is complimentary monthly classes that include yoga instruction, a fitness class and a patient-to-patient support group. Through Baylor, our patients also have access to pre-op and post-op nutrition classes and a quarterly support group.

Nicholson Clinic Patient Educator, Candace Peppers, produces pre-op and post-op videos posted online for our patients to view at any time. We also do monthly Facebook Live events on various topics and Q&A sessions for patients, in addition to providing a wealth of information on our website, blog and social media pages.

Finally, consider your personal comfort level and find a doctor with whom you connect. This is why the initial consultation with a doctor is so important. You should feel comfortable asking questions and have a doctor who will customize a program for you. It’s not a one-size fits all approach and you should feel good about your decision and your treatment option. In addition to the doctor-patient connection, consider the other medical providers and staff members you work with along the way as well. This is one area that truly sets the Nicholson Clinic apart.

Each of our patients are assigned a Patient Care Advocate (PCA). Your PCA is your one-on-one concierge to help you through the entire process leading up to surgery as there can be several steps along the way. We also have insurance specialists who help you navigate the insurance process to maximize your benefits and minimize your out of pocket. We have partners in pharmacy and lab and a full medical staff to answer questions and provide support along the way. Our entire staff is committed to your success, from the front desk staff to the medical staff to the back office. We are with you all the way.

If you are considering bariatric surgery, give us a call to schedule a consultation!

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