How Do You Find the Best Bariatric Surgeon?
You’re extremely overweight, and you know it’s not good for you. Your self-esteem and confidence are low, you don’t have the ability or energy to do the things you want to do, and your health is suffering. You know you need to lose weight, but you feel like you’ve tried everything (diet, exercise, supplements) and nothing has worked. Now you’ve learned about bariatric surgery, and you feel that this is the best option for you to get back your health and your life. Your next step is to choose the bariatric surgeon who will perform your procedure. Of course, you want the very best bariatric surgeon around. But with thousands of surgeons in practice, how can you possibly know who to choose?
Don’t worry; you’re not alone. Here at Doctor Review, helping you choose the right provider for your elective health procedure is one of our specialties. Here are a few tips to make sure you’re choosing the best bariatric surgeon for your procedure.
Things to Look For in a Bariatric Surgeon
ASMBS: a Mark of Experience
Bariatric surgery is a fairly new area of surgery, and isn’t developed as an official surgical subspecialty (as, for instance, plastic surgery is). Bariatric surgery can be performed by general surgeons; there can be wide variation in how often surgeons perform these procedures and how much specific training and experience they have in this area, and calling oneself a “bariatric surgeon” might not mean much in this regard.
So while your bariatric surgeon should have the letters “MD” after his or her name (of course! That means they’re a real doctor!), there may be another set of letters that you want to look for. “ASMBS” stands for American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgeons. In order to be in this society, the surgeon not only has to be well-qualified as a general surgeon with membership in the American Board of Surgery (requiring years of training and the passing of rigorous board exams in surgery), but also must perform a certain number of bariatric surgical procedures per year, and must be recommended by colleagues in the ASMBS as a surgeon with a strong base of knowledge and excellent skills in bariatric surgery.
Recent Training and Experience
You also want information on how often this surgeon has done the particular procedure you’re considering, or whether they’ve recently had continuing education to learn new techniques in that particular area. Some may perform certain procedures more or less often, and may choose their continuing education courses to be in their area of greatest interest.
If you’re calling the front desk as a potential new patient, you may be able to ask about this information. Sometimes, it’s available on the surgeon’s website. You may need to have a consultation and ask directly; many surgical offices offer complimentary consultations. This information is valuable in terms of determining whether the plastic surgeon can perform the procedure you’re seeking at a high quality.
While you do want someone who’s experienced, it’s at least as important to find a surgeon with whom you feel comfortable, who listens to you, tries to understand your goals, and answers your questions. If your surgeon doesn’t take the time to connect with you in this way, then you could end up making choices that you later regret, because they really weren’t right for you.
You also want a surgeon who helps you feel calm, rather than heightening your anxiety. This makes bariatric surgery far more pleasant, helps you make the best choices for yourself, and may even speed your healing.
What About the Money?
It’s important not to let cost be the only factor in your decision. Simply choosing the cheapest bariatric surgeon you can find is likely to lead to unsatisfying outcomes, and possibly to much larger expenditures down the road to fix the problems that were caused. However, since bariatric surgery is expensive, and you may have significant out-of-pocket costs even if medical insurance covers most of it, the balance in your bank account might force you to consider cost as part of your decision. You can sometimes simply ask the front desk staff to give you estimated prices on a variety of procedures, or you can have a consultation to get a more accurate estimate. Just keep in mind that if you don’t have the money you need to pay the provider you want, financing your procedure is an option.
Ask For a Little Help From Your Friends
Referrals from friends and family, especially if they’ve had the particular procedure you’re considering, can be especially valuable. While not everyone announces that they’ve had bariatric surgery, you might figure it out when the person loses lots of weight fast. You might feel comfortable putting it out there: “I’m looking for a great bariatric surgeon in my area, do you know of anyone?” You might find the perfect fit this way. However, many people would like to be more discreet, rather than announcing their choice to seek bariatric surgery to the world. Instead, or in addition, you can search on Doctor Review to read reviews of bariatric surgeons in your area. This is a great way to broaden your search and make sure you’re considering all the options, and to get advice from people who’ve had exactly the procedure you’re seeking, all while maintaining your privacy.
So Who’s the Best Bariatric Surgeon?
The best bariatric surgeon is the one who offers all of the factors above — training and experience in the procedure you’re considering (possibly including membership in ASMBS), a caring and compassionate manner, and great results. If you want to feel good about your plastic surgical procedure, it starts with feeling good about your surgeon!