The vast majority of people begin their healthcare journey online, doing a great deal of research before they ever even step foot in a doctor’s office. By the time they come in for an initial consult, they typically already know the benefits of weight loss surgery, the various types of procedures available and which procedure might be a good fit for them.
While it’s wonderful to have so much information at your fingertips, without the input from an experienced bariatric surgeon, it can be confusing to determine what specific route would be the best for you. If you’ve been thinking about weight loss surgery, here are some questions you may want to ask your doctor before you make the decision to have surgery.
1. Is weight loss surgery a good option for me?
Prior to surgery, you should have a consultation with a surgeon, the doctor who would actually be doing your procedure. During this consultation, a thorough medical evaluation should be performed, and any appropriate tests should be ordered so the doctor can determine which procedure might be right for you. The doctor will explain options including how the surgery is performed, how it will help you lose weight, and what to expect during recovery. Your consultation should not feel rushed; it should be thorough, and the recommendation should be personalized to your specific needs.
2. How many procedures have you performed? How many surgeries do you do on a monthly basis?
A surgeon who does just a handful of weight loss surgeries each month simply isn’t as qualified as one who does a high volume consistently over a long period of time. But why does this number really matter? Studies show that the more procedures a surgeon has performed, the better their patients’ outcomes. Similar to mastering any life skill, typically the more a surgeon repeats the procedure, the better he or she becomes. Additionally, the more experience your surgeon has performing bariatric procedures, the more adept they become at monitoring safety and recognizing potential complications and any issues that might arise so they can react quickly and appropriately to provide the most effective outcome to the patient.
3. Are you credentialed and do you operate at accredited hospitals? Are you a MBSAQIP Verified Surgeon?
Not every surgeon has the credentials to operate at the top hospitals. Being recognized as a MBSAQIP Verified Surgeon is important because it means your doctor has met the standards of the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP). The MBSAQUP sets national standards for bariatric surgery centers with the goal of advancing safe and high-quality care for bariatric surgery patients. These standards come from the collaboration of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS). Another benefit of operating at the top hospitals is that your surgeon will have access to the latest technology and the most advanced equipment that not all surgery centers are able to offer.
4. What types of pre-op and post-op support do you offer?
Remember surgery is only part of the weight loss solution. It takes a lifestyle change and commitment to follow a strict diet and exercise program to lose the weight and keep it off. You should not be alone in this journey. Patient support provided by your weight loss clinic should be comprehensive — psychological, nutrition, and fitness support offered by a variety of specialists and in a variety of ways. Patients should have the opportunity to receive one-on-one support and group support, both in-person, and virtually 24/7. Patients should be able to receive support no matter what barriers may exist — geography, time limitations, etc. Your bariatric clinic should be your trusted provider with you all the way, for life — not just in the first year following surgery.
Asking your doctor the right questions can help you make the decision that is best for you and your individual needs.
Perhaps you’ve already had a consultation with another surgeon, but didn’t feel comfortable or get your questions answered. Consider a second opinion. Weight loss surgery is a big decision to make — don’t give up on the chance to have life-changing surgery simply because the first doctor you met with didn’t meet your expectations. You should feel comfortable with your surgeon, their experience, philosophy and bedside manner. You should also feel confident in the support staff and everyone who will be taking care of you before, during and after surgery.
At the Nicholson Clinic, we are internationally recognized as experts in our field and committed to providing the highest level of care to each and every patient. If you are considering weight loss surgery, here are the first steps to take in your journey.