How To Choose a Bariatric Surgeon
Choosing the right bariatric surgeon takes time, effort, and research. Before you schedule an initial consultation, ask for referrals from your family doctor and from other people that you know who have had positive experiences with a particular bariatric surgeon. Most importantly, you must feel comfortable with your bariatric surgeon and confident in his or her ability to perform your bariatric surgery successfully.
Questions to ask the bariatric surgeon in the initial consultation
Once you have narrowed down your search, you should ask potential bariatric surgeons the following questions:
- Are you a member of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery?
- How many bariatric surgeries have you performed?
- What types of bariatric procedures do you perform?
- Do you have a specialty in bariatric surgery?
- How many bariatric surgeries have you performed in the hospital or clinic in which my procedure would be performed?
- What are your bariatric surgery complication and mortality rates?
- Do you have bariatric patient references?
- What are my personal risks and benefits for bariatric surgery?
- Will another doctor assist during the bariatric surgery?
- Who will perform the bariatric surgery if you are not available on the day of scheduled surgery?
- Do you work in a particular anesthesiologist and does he or she have experience with obese patients undergoing bariatric surgery?
Bariatric surgeon qualifications
The right bariatric surgeon is willing to take the time to explain the details of the bariatric surgery, to hear your concerns about the procedure, and to answer any questions you have with confidence and ease. Your bariatric surgeon's commitment for your postsurgery care is just as important as the actual bariatric surgery itself. Consider the following points when you are choosing a bariatric surgeon:
- Level of knowledge of current bariatric technology
- Rate of success
- Complication incidence level
Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence
A Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence (COE) designation means that a hospital or clinic has performed at least 125 bariatric surgeries. The bariatric surgeon performing the surgery at the COE will have performed at least 125 total surgeries and at least 50 such surgeries within a year. Other requirements for a Center of Excellence designation includes having a bariatric team on hand: surgeons, nurses, nutritionists, psychologists and exercise physiologists. Other rigorous qualifications must be met to gain and retain Center of Excellence status. A CEO is certified by either the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery or the American College of Surgeons.
Because of an increase in the number of doctors performing bariatric surgeries, it is more important now than ever before to choose a qualified bariatric surgeon. Choosing the right bariatric surgeon minimizes the chance of complications and future surgical corrections or adjustments. Patients benefit from minimized health and financial risks.
A few bariatric surgeries are performed outside of the United States and are less expensive, or appear to be less expensive, than their domestic counterparts. However, these bariatric surgeries, surgeons, facilities or clinics, and related medical components are not regulated by the FDA or the United States legal system, and patients have little or no recourse if something goes wrong. Patients are well-advised not to bargain hunt when choosing a bariatric surgeon. Additional, hidden costs are involved with overseas surgeries. See Average Costs for Bariatric Surgery for more information.
Find out more about bariatric surgery
For more information on bariatric surgery, browse the menu options above. To find a bariatric surgeon near you, use our bariatric surgeon locator.
Find out if you are a candidate for bariatric surgery.