Go From Obese to...OMG!

Five Things To Look For In A Gastric Surgeon

View from below of experienced surgeons with medical tools during operation

Gastric surgery is a major decision in anyone’s life, and should not be undertaken lightly. Do your homework when you are considering surgery and find out all you can about the surgeon.

1. Skill

Legitimate gastric (bariatric) surgeons earn board certification from the American Board of Surgery and are usually members of professional societies such as the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) or the Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES). If so, the surgeon will most likely tout this certification on his website. You can also check whether your surgeon is certified on the website for the Board of Surgery.

Find out what procedures your surgeon is trained to perform. “Gastric Surgery” covers a wide range of surgeries and methods, from traditional gastric bypass to the newer Lap Band method; surgeons can now perform laparoscopic surgery, meaning through tubes inserted inside the body via several small incisions, instead of the traditional one, large incision.

2. Reputation

If you have a general practitioner whom you trust, ask his or her recommendation: good doctors make friends with fellow good doctors and form their own personal network, which might lead you to a surgeon you would have missed otherwise.

Additionally, see what people say about the surgeon you have chosen. One word-of-mouth recommendation is worth a thousand online critiques, but if you don’t have an acquaintance to ask, there are countless options for online reviews, like Yelp, Angie’s List and Rate MDs. Beware of online reviews, however, as these and similar websites tend toward negative, uneducated criticism with little helpful evidence. Your surgeon’s own website may have patient testimonials and before-and-after photographs that may helpful as well.

3. Experience

Better than a good reputation is a good body of experience. Look into how many years the surgeons has been performing surgery: find out online or in the surgeon’s office. Did your surgeon attend a top medical school? Has he been awarded any academic honors or marks of excellence during or since medical school? Did he perform his residency at a major hospital before beginning private practice, or has he served as head of the surgery department anywhere, or taught at a university?

Play devil’s advocate: Check whether your surgeon comes up in a news search for any ignominious surgeries or other concerns.

4. Personability

A good surgeon will always meet with you face-to-face to talk at least once before the day of surgery. The meeting will give the surgeon a chance to introduce himself and answer your questions so that you can become comfortable with the surgeon. The fact that the surgeon meets with you shows that he cares, which is good as this is a life-changing decision. 

You can also schedule a consultation with many surgeons at an early stage, just to learn about the different options available to you.

5. Facilities

Where will the surgery take place? At a hospital, or a stand-alone medical center? If the latter, be sure that the equipment is up to standards. If your surgeon operates a private practice, ask whether it is a certified ASMBS Bariatric Center of Excellence. The facilities and equipment used are just as important as the surgeon in charge of the procedure.

Most importantly, feel free to look around and compare surgeons and options, even if you think you have a good idea from the start. 

Ask a Question

Our Medcal Weight-Loss Expert Is Here To Help!

Enter your question.
Enter your name.
Enter your email address.