9 Questions to Ask before Choosing a Bariatric Surgeon
Obesity and bariatric surgeries have become possibly the most effective way to deal with obesity and over-weight problems. However, as every surgery, they carry certain risks with them, which is why they are not the miracle solution that many over-weight people consider them to be. A lot about the surgery depends on the surgeons themselves and how good they are.
In order to find out whether the surgeon you are about to choose to do your obesity/bariatric surgery we suggest that you ask him/her the following questions.
1. How experienced are you?
Experience of the surgeon is almost everything when it comes to surgery. It is simple – the more cases a surgeon has handled throughout their careers, the more knowledgeable they will be when it comes to various complications and conditions. However, this does not mean that you should immediately write-off the surgeons with less experience. Young surgeons today have had access to the newest technologies during their studies and are probably more apt to use them. Surgeons also have fellowship programs where they train under a fellow, more experienced surgeon, for a couple of years. If you find a young surgeon with a finished fellowship program under a well-known, highly experienced surgeon, you might want to pose some more questions to him/her before moving on.
2. Which surgery type would you recommend for me?
Not every bariatric surgery corresponds well with the overall health and obesity problems that a patient may have. A good surgeon will recognize your overall condition and recommend what he thinks is the best surgery for you. You should then consult with your dedicated physician and, if possible, with another bariatric surgeon and check whether the recommendation matches your condition. If right, the surgeon probably knows what he/she is talking about.
3. How will the recommended surgery help me lose weight?
Losing weight is not just a simple matter of having a surgery and then magically losing weight. In fact, the surgery is probably just a first step towards it. Before deciding, you have to know specifically how that surgery type will help you lose weight. Will it affect your appetite, your digestion? You will not immediately lose weight, but the point is to know how the surgery will affect you, so that you can focus your further efforts on maximizing the efficiency of the surgery.
4. What resources do you have at your disposal?
It is important to note whether the surgeon has hospital privileges for the patients. Some surgeons operate in private clinics or outpatient medical facilities, and they don’t have inherent hospital privileges, meaning that any complications will have to be dealt with in the emergency care, which, depending on the country, is rarely a good thing. Also, having hospital privileges helps with post-op recovery.
5. What are your complication rates?
Surgeries always come with a risk of complications. If a surgeon guarantees you 100% success rate without any complications, that surgeon is either inexperienced or lying. Either way, you should stay away. Depending on the procedure, complication rates may vary. Gastric bypass serious perioperative complications are at 3.6%, sleeve gastrectomy at 2.2%, and lap band surgery at 0.9%, according to a study done in 2010. The surgeon you choose should have complication rates near or below these figures.
6. Do you have pre- and post-op care?
Preparing for and recovering from the surgery should also be of both yours and your surgeon’s concern. You should be informed what to do and what not to do before the surgery, and you should probably spend a day in the hospital, with nurses and the surgeon preparing you for it. When it comes to recovery, if the surgery is laparoscopic (as they mostly are), it takes about 2 or 3 days of hospital stay and 4 to 5 weeks of outpatient recovery. The 3 days of primary recovery are vital, as you have to have the surgeon monitor it to see whether there are any complications. Also, not all surgeons have a habit of visiting their patients after the operation. For all of these reasons, it is important to choose a surgeon with both pre- and post-op care plan.
7. Could the surgery affect my other health problems?
Long-standing obesity can cause a plethora of other health problems, like increased blood pressure, risk of stroke and heart attack, diabetes, etc. Dealing with obesity and losing weight can help with these problems, as well, as the underlying cause of the problems will be removed. However, sometimes bariatric surgeries can have detrimental effects to overall health, due to other health conditions. Surgeons should know when this will be the case, and they should advise you against a surgery type that might impact your health in a negative way.
8. Are there certain foods that I won’t be able to eat after the surgery?
It is highly likely that you will have to alter your dietary habits before and after the surgery to allow your stomach the time to prepare for and heal from the surgery. Some surgery types, however, might have a longer impact on your diet and you might have to change some habits permanently. The surgeon should know all about this and tell you which options demand which dietary “sacrifices”.
9. How likely it is that I’ll regain weight after the surgery?
Every surgery type carries with it a risk that the patient will regain weight after some time has passed. This has little to do with the surgeries themselves and more with the patients and their willingness to follow the instructions. However, depending on the surgery type, some have higher chances of this happening and some have lower chances. A quality surgeon should be able to explain to you the difference between the various surgery types and explain what you will need to do to minimize the risk of regaining weight.
Opting for an obesity/bariatric surgery is usually the last step in the struggle to lose weight and it means that all other attempts at it have failed. They carry certain risks with them, which is why you should be very careful about choosing a surgeon to perform the surgery on you. When considering a surgery abroad, you should be even more cautious and make sure that you are completely informed about everything related to the surgery. Posing questions to the surgeon before choosing serves a double purpose: to gain more information and to test the surgeon and see whether he is the right one. If you need any further help on this matter, we would be more than glad to assist you in any way we can.
Here at PlacidWay, we are at your disposal if you need any help or have any questions regarding obesity/bariatric surgery, so do not hesitate to contact us!