Below are five tips from Stephen Hamn, medical director of the weight loss surgery program at Baylor Medical Center at Frisco, an American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence.
Take your time choosing a program – A good-quality program will tell you up front about the different options for weight loss surgery and the post-operative work – exercise and changes in diet – required for each option.
Be flexible – Consult with a surgeon or surgeons who perform more than one type of weight loss surgery. As a consumer, you can select gastric bypass, adjustable gastric banding or the gastric sleeve procedure.
“One procedure may be more effective for you than another for your individual needs, so do your research on all options,” Hamn said.
Numbers do matter – Many studies have shown that complication rates from weight loss surgery are highly dependent on the surgeon’s prior experience. Because previous experience is tantamount to success, ask your surgeon how many of each proposed operations he or she has performed.
Chemistry matters – In many general surgical cases, you have limited interaction with your surgeon. Not so with weight loss surgery. You may see your surgeon at least four or five times in the first year. Be sure that the surgeon and support staff is genuinely interested in you and your success.
Support matters, too – To succeed, weight loss surgery requires hard work from you. What support can you expect post-surgery? Does the program offer support groups, psychological support, exercise or physical therapy? Are dieticians involved to help you develop better eating habits and food plans?
“I frequently tell our patients that 90 percent of their long-term success is in their hands, not mine,” Hamn said.