Weight Loss Surgery (Obesity Surgery) Surgeons (Doctors)

So, you have made the decision to have weight loss surgery, now you have another important decision to make; which procedure and which doctor (known as a ‘surgeon.’) The most important factor should be making your surgery as safe as possible.  The surgeon holds your life in his/her hands therefore the selection of a surgeon is a serious one.  Finding the right surgeon for you is vital and he/she will need to be best matched to the procedure and your individual needs.  Other factors will also probably come into play such as geographical distance and waiting periods.  For many, cost is an important factor, which can limit the choices somewhat. The more money you have to spend on your weight loss surgery the more choices you will have. Those who are not paying for treatment themselves will have some of their choice limited by what’s on offer at the local PCT and NHS Trust.

A weight loss surgeon also know as bariatric surgeons, have specialised in bariatric surgery, a subspecialty of general surgery.  You will probably be seeking a surgeon who has carried out many operations of the type you are considering.  It makes sense that the more practiced the surgeon is the safer your surgery will ultimately be.  There are steps you can take when considering a surgeon (which people often refer to as ‘doctors’).

  • Discuss options with your GP
  • Visit the hospital and meet the surgeon
  • Gain advice from organisations such as NICE
  • Listen to the experiences of others who have undergone surgery
  • Join a chat room or online support groups, for opinions and tips of what others looked for in their chosen surgeons.
  • Ask the right questions.  You may wish to prepare a list of questions before meeting with the surgeon.

Asking the right questions is particularly important, you should not hold back on asking all the things you need to know. Any good surgeon would be pleased to see you taking an interest in your surgery and would be happy to reassure you. It may be that you can also find out a great deal of information at a support-group meeting. Ask your surgeon if he runs a support group and if so attending one would be an excellent opportunity to gain knowledge. Not only will you be able to find much more out about your particular weight loss surgery but also more about your surgeon as it is usual for the surgeon to attend.

Some patients who are very thorough in their research and can find out things about their surgeon such as finding that they have had a patient die during or after weight loss surgery. Although this is of course very off-putting, you should not dismiss your surgeon just on one case. Some excellent surgeons have had patients that die during weight loss surgery, as some patients will be very high risk. It could be that the surgeon is very skilled which is why he has operated on higher risk patients (those with a very high BMI and severe obesity related health problems). It is acceptable to expect a skilled surgeon to have had a 1-2 per cent mortality rate and around 15 per cent complication rate.

You may feel rather strange the first time you meet with your surgeon, knowing that he will be giving you life-changing surgery, you will probably feel like you are trusting a relative stranger. Of course it is completely natural to feel scared about the thought of surgery and for many patients, meeting the surgeon makes this fear all the more real. Your surgeon will understand, remember if he has dealt with many patients then he will be very used to patients experiencing the full array of emotions and feelings. Do take as many opportunities as you can to meet with your surgeon as it will reassure you and the surgeon and make you both feel more comfortable. It is important that you have a rapport with your surgeon as then you are much more likely to go to the support-group meetings if these are led by your surgeon. Not accessing these support-group meetings because you are not feeling a rapport with your surgeon would be a great shame, as attending these groups is important to your success. You will want to give yourself the best chance of success and choice of surgeon plays a part in this.

When choosing a surgeon you can also involve your spouse or partner, most surgeons should be very comfortable with your spouse or partner asking questions. Having this type of open dialogue will reassure your partner or spouse of the procedure and make you both feel like you are sharing the experience. Your surgeon should feel like a ‘best fit’ and if it doesn’t then it is best to shop around for an alternative. By asking lots of questions and finding as many opportunities to meet with your surgeon you will be able to get a feel for the surgeon. Don’t feel afraid to visit as many practices as possible if you feel you have not yet found the ‘best fit’ for you.

There will not only be your surgeon involved in your weight loss surgery journey, you will be meeting with a wealth of health professionals such as psychologists, nutritionists, dietitians and bariatric co-ordinators.

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