Deciding to get bariatric surgery is a big moment. And you want to feel 100% comfortable with the weight loss surgery center you choose.
Get to know the center. Most weight loss centers hold online or in-person seminars so you can hear their general approach to the weight loss surgery process. The seminar should cover what to expect, how it will affect your life long-term, and insurance and payment questions.
Respected bariatric centers have teams of weight loss professionals. Look for a center that has:
- An experienced bariatric surgeon
- A psychologist or therapist
- Nutritionists or dietitians
- Patient coordinators who help you with appointments and insurance
Questions to Consider
When you meet with the bariatric surgeon for a consultation, make sure you feel truly heard and seen. Here are questions to consider of what to look for in a center, so you can make an empowered and thoughtful decision.
1. Did the team explore my goals and desires?
Your surgeon should ask you about your goals, not just your health history. While bariatric surgery will help you lose weight, it requires a lifelong commitment to a new eating style.
Explore your feelings and concerns with your surgeon and express your goals. An experienced team will answer your questions with empathy and help you feel comfortable.
2. Did they explain all of the different types of bariatric surgery, including the pros and cons?
Some patients do a lot of research before they start talking to a bariatric surgeon. It’s helpful to understand all of your options, so you can ask questions and have an informed conversation. The goal of bariatric surgery is to shrink the stomach to limit food intake.
Here are the fast facts about three common types of bariatric surgery:
This procedure is the most popular bariatric surgery. The surgeon removes 75% to 85% of the stomach. Because the stomach size is so small, you’ll most likely lose a large amount of weight. The procedure also affects your gut hormones, making you less hungry. You cannot reverse this procedure.
The surgeon first staples the stomach and creates a small pouch. Then they connect the small intestine to the small pouch, bypassing a large part of the stomach and intestines.
The smaller stomach holds a limited amount of food. Bypassing parts of the stomach and intestines also limits the calories and nutrients you absorb. And the procedure affects the hunger hormone, making you less hungry. These effects all combine to help you lose weight.
However, because the surgery affects nutrient absorption, it’s important to work with a dietitian. They’ll help develop an eating plan that ensures you’re getting the nutrition you need. This procedure can be reversed surgically if a patient has severe side effects.
Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding
A bariatric surgeon places an inflatable band over the top of the stomach. The band divides the stomach into a top, smaller portion and a bottom, larger portion. You control the tightness of the band through a small port in the skin.
Gastric banding limits the amount of food you can eat, resulting in weight loss. You can have the band removed if you no longer want it.
Because of the issues some patients have with gastric banding, Baystate Health does not currently offer this procedure.
3. Did I meet with a nutritionist, psychologist and other staff, besides a bariatric surgeon?
Bariatric surgery is more than an operation—it is a total approach to improving your health. As part of the screening process, you should have meetings with a team of experts to inform your care.
At Baystate Health, the screening process starts with a general information session which is then followed by appointments with a physician assistant, a dietitian, a surgeon, and a psychologist. Baystate Health also offers support groups for patients in the bariatric surgery program.
A nutritionist can help guide you to the right eating plan before surgery and can continue to help you after surgery. Counseling helps prepare you for the changes to your lifestyle after weight loss surgery.
Most insurance plans will cover the costs of bariatric surgery, but some will require you to follow a documented weight loss plan for 6 months before surgery. This process demonstrates that you are ready for the lifestyle changes that accompany weight loss surgery. Typically, Baystate Health patients complete our program between 4-6 months if they stay on top of appointments and lab work.
4. Did I research more than one center?
Even though you may feel pulled toward one bariatric surgeon that you meet, make sure you talk to others. Many centers offer convenient telehealth visits and online seminars. Baystate Health offers a screening process and information session that can be completed online after which our team will follow up with next steps.
When you consult with a bariatric surgery team, come with a list of questions so you can compare apples to apples when thinking through who to choose.
5. Did I feel comfortable?
Don’t underestimate the power of your intuition. If you don’t feel comfortable with the surgeon or the approach, then rethink it. Bring a trusted friend or family member with you to get another point of view.
No matter how much research you’ve done, you probably have many questions you need answered. These questions can help facilitate a thoughtful and thorough conversation with your doctor, so you feel confident in your choice of center.
Learn More About Bariatric Surgery at Baystate Health
The weight loss experts at Baystate Health are here to guide you through your weight loss journey. Learn more about our team and watch our informational video to get started.