Finding the Right Doctor for Weight Loss Surgery
If you plan to have weight loss surgery (bariatric surgery), you’ll want a highly qualified bariatric surgeon to perform the procedure. How do you find the best bariatric surgeon who is right for you? Here are important factors to keep in mind.
Find a bariatric surgeon who:
- Is board certified in general surgery and who specializes in bariatric surgery
- Has experience treating patients with your specific condition
- Practices at a hospital known to have high-quality outcomes in bariatric surgery
- Accepts your insurance
- You are comfortable talking with and who fully answers your questions
Here are five steps to finding the best bariatric surgeon to perform your weight loss surgery.
Start by creating a list of potential bariatric surgeons. Ask your family, friends, and other healthcare providers for recommendations. If you’re starting without any referrals, or you’re looking for more options, search for bariatric surgeons on Healthgrades.com.
Healthgrades.com shows patient satisfaction ratings, which give you insight into how your own experience might be with the doctor. Patients rate the doctor and the doctor’s medical practice, and say if they would recommend the doctor to family and friends.
Take time to research the doctors’ credentials and experience. Look for a doctor who is board certified in general surgery and performs bariatric surgery on a regular basis.
The more experience a doctor has treating your condition or performing bariatric surgery, the better prepared he or she is to anticipate and prevent complications. Some surgeons choose to obtain status as a Fellow of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (FASMBS). A member of the ASMBS is eligible to become a fellow when he or she presents evidence to the Society of active bariatric surgery outcomes reporting.
Also, confirm that the doctor is in good standing with state and federal agencies and that he or she has no history of malpractice claims or disciplinary actions.
You’ll find all this information on Healthgrades.com.
Weight loss surgery requires a team of highly skilled and experienced healthcare providers. For this reason, you should also consider the overall quality of bariatric care at the hospital where the surgeon practices.
Find out where the bariatric surgeons on your list can treat patients; then research those hospitals on Healthgrades.com. Healthgrades evaluates hospitals on mortality and complication rates of patients while in the hospital for a range of common procedures, including bariatric surgery.
Ideally you should find a hospital in your area that performs better than expected (5-stars) for bariatric surgery. Then, find a doctor who can admit and treat patients at this hospital. Avoid hospitals with lower than expected (1-star) results.
If a particular hospital falls short in quality, determine if the surgeon performs bariatric surgery at another facility. Otherwise, find a surgeon who treats patients at a hospital likely to offer you the best possible outcome: a Healthgrades rating of 5-stars in bariatric surgery.
As you narrow down your list of bariatric surgeons, call each surgeon’s office and ask for a consult appointment to meet and interview the doctor.
- Ask yourself if you are comfortable talking with the doctor.
- Does he or she respect your opinions and answer your questions in a way you understand?
Here are some questions to ask the doctor:
- Do you typically treat patients like me?
- How many bariatric surgeries and what types have you performed?
- What results do you usually see? Do you keep track of surgical outcomes and complications? Can you share them with me?
- How frequently do you encounter complications from the surgery?
- What do you do to avoid complications or correct them if they occur?
Your insurance coverage is a practical matter. Insurance coverage for weight loss surgery varies by state and by insurance company. Contact your insurance company for specific coverage tied to your health plan. In addition, to receive the most insurance benefits and pay the least out-of-pocket for your surgery, you need to choose a surgeon that participates in your plan.
But keep in mind, just because a doctor participates in your insurance plan doesn’t mean he or she is a high-quality doctor. You still need to consider the doctor’s experience and expertise.