The choice to have weight loss surgery could well be amongst one of the biggest decisions you will make. It’s right up there with getting married, deciding to start a family, buying a house, changing jobs…..you get the picture. These are all major life decisions that you would typically deliberate on for weeks or months, and sometimes even years. Choosing to have weight loss surgery to help manage your excess weight is no different. So how do you identify the best weight loss surgeon for you? That’s the first question I answer in this multi-part series, looking at some of the important aspects of weight loss surgery that you should thoroughly understand before making the decision.
For all these major life choices it’s very much about information. The more you know, the more you understand. The more details you can assimilate, the better equipped you are going to be to make a rational, well thought out, fully deliberated upon, and ultimately, right decision for you.
The best weight loss surgeon is a specialist
You should ideally choose a surgeon who specialises in weight loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery. This is a surgeon who has specifically trained in a Bariatric Fellowship. This may be a stand-alone Fellowship typically lasting at least 1 year in a high volume bariatric practice. It may also be part of an Upper GI Fellowship which spans 2 or more years.
Why is this an advantage to you? A highly capable surgeon with experience in all surgeries is better placed to select the right weight loss surgery for you, rather than the right surgery for them. Your surgeon should be familiar with and able to perform ALL of the most commonly performed procedures in Australia. This could be sleeve gastrectomy. Or gastric bypass, both the classic Roux-en_Y configuration as well as the newer OAGB (one anastomosis gastric bypass, also called the MGB (mini-gastric bypass). The surgeon should also be able to perform revisional procedures (those performed after the primary or original procedure).
Most importantly, the best weight loss surgeon will be able to look after any problems that arise after your surgery. In the short, medium, and long term.
They are always learning
Surgical procedures and the management of obesity is constantly evolving. Continuing education underpins best practice. It ensures you get the most up to date care both before, during and after your weight loss surgery. This commitment to education is therefore paramount for top bariatric surgeons across Australia.
I attend local Bariatric meetings once a month, regional meetings several times a year, and international meetings at least once a year. This keeps my practice at the cutting edge of weight loss surgery and management.
They have surgical support
It is also advisable to check what back up procedures your prospective surgeon has put in place. What happens when they are away or unavailable? Who will look after you? Many surgeons have thought this through, and have a great working relationship with other surgeons nearby. It is always well worth asking this question.
To give you an idea, I work in a practice with two other specialist bariatric surgeons on the Sunshine Coast. This means there is always at least one of us on the Coast at all times (and most commonly ALL 3 of us) to care for our patients in any event. We all reside on the Coast making covering each other feasible. This is reassuring for our patients and helps provide a safe practice.
In addition to this, I operate with another bariatric surgeon for all the weight loss procedures I perform. This means two specialist surgeons are present for your surgery. We call this quality control, and it also further enhances the post-surgery backup process. This is easy when everyone has the same ethos about surgery and patient best practice. Our ethos is to ensure we do the best procedure for every one of our patients to ensure the best outcomes possible.
And finally, the best surgeon for you is someone you like and trust
It’s very important to be comfortable with the surgeon you choose. You should be able to have a full and frank discussion with them about all and any aspects of the procedure you have chosen. Make sure any concerns you have are addressed and you understand the decision-making process involved in your care.
It may seem obvious, but make sure you understand everything your surgeon tells you about the surgery, perioperative care and ongoing follow up care. The amount of information you get may seem daunting. The surgeon should take the time to explain this in a way you understand. You also need to feel comfortable to ask your surgeon if you don’t understand something. Most practices will also have websites that are great resources for information on weight loss surgery.
Last, but certainly not least, you should like your surgeon. They will be responsible for your wellbeing and ensuring you get the best opportunity to succeed with your weight loss goals. Having a therapeutic relationship is essential and a very important part of your journey to a happier and healthier life.
Want some advice?
If you’re situated on the Sunshine Coast, Fraser Coast region or Mt Isa, I am happy to meet with you. I can offer you more tailored information and answer any questions you might have about this big decision. Whether you’re ready now, years from now, or you decide it’s not for you, it’s great to have professional information you can rely on.