Deciding to have weight loss surgery is a significant and difficult decision to make. It is really common for people to think about it for years before they talk to their doctor. There are lots of pros and cons to consider and it does not suit absolutely everyone.
It is a great option for many people however, and once you have decided to go ahead with surgery the next step is finding the best surgeon and practice to suit you. Not all weight loss teams are equal, and this is an incredibly important part of your weight loss journey so it is important you take your time and get this right.
So, what should you be looking for? How do you know if a practice is the right fit for you? What should you be looking for in a surgeon? We understand this can be a very overwhelming process, so this blog is all about choosing the right surgeon and practice for you!
Choosing a Surgeon
Surgeons who perform weight loss surgery are called Bariatric Surgeons. It is very important to feel comfortable with your surgeon and have a good relationship with them. Ideally you will be seeing your surgeon for life-long follow-up so this is very important. You also want to make sure they are the right person to support you through your weight loss journey.
- Where did they complete their medical and surgical training?
- How many weight loss surgeries have they performed?
- Which weight loss operations do they offer (not all patients are suited to all operations)?
- Which public hospitals are they appointed at? Is this a reputable health service?
- Do they conduct research or participate in teaching?
- What post op support do they offer?
- What has been the experience of their other patients?
- Is it possible to talk to previous patients?
Choosing a practice
It is crucial that you feel supported in every way along your weight loss surgery journey. The best environment for this is a multi-disciplinary clinic, which has a broad range of health professionals to assist you.
Dietitians, Psychologists, Exercise Physiologists and Practice Nurses are all critical members of a supportive team, and ideally you should be seeing many health professionals for follow up. A practice that provides these services ideally in-house makes this convenient and easy for you, and promotes communication between health care professionals. Furthermore, you want to ensure that the whole health care team is very experienced and knowledgeable in the area of weight loss and in particular weight loss surgeries.
Furthermore, a multidisciplinary practice will also be treating obesity as a multifactorial problem. The surgery itself just takes care of the biological aspect, but you want to make sure psychological and broader lifestyles and behaviours are taken into consideration also for long-term success. This should include discussion around your personal barriers to change such as work commitments, family, busy lifestyles and time constraints, so that your plan can be tailored to you!
A practice with multiple team members in each discipline is essential too! This gives you the option to meet with different surgeons or allied health professionals to see whoyou click with the best prior to surgery. Do not be afraid to get a second opinion! Any great practice will welcome it.
You also want a practice that encourages at least long-term or ideally life-long follow-up. After all, the surgery itself is a tool that you will be working with for the rest of your life, so it is important to have that continual support. Bumps in the road are expected as changing lifestyles and habits is no easy feat, but a great team will be there every step of the way!
- Ask as many questions as possible! No question is too silly!
- Request to be put in contact with another patient who has already had surgery and can share their experiences with you
- Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion.
- Trust your gut! Make sure you truly feel comfortable with the people who will be supporting you through your journey! Each journey and individual is different – make sure you feel your team understands that and YOU!