More than a third of adults in the United States suffer from obesity, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Another 32 percent, per the National Institutes of Health, are overweight. With statistics like these, it’s clear that our country has tipped the scales to a national health crisis. It puts people at increased risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and certain types of cancer, among other things. As the obesity rate has increased, so has the multi-billion-dollar diet industry, yet millions of Americans continue to struggle to lose weight and keep it off. Fortunately, bariatric surgery, also called weight loss surgery, offers another option.
f you’ve tried dieting time and again without reaching or maintaining your goal, don’t give up. Instead, find out if weight loss surgery may be right for you. Start by researching weight loss surgery programs in your area. Check out websites and social media groups. Attend free informational seminars in person (often led by a weight loss surgeon) where you can listen, ask questions, and gather detailed information on a specific program.
Since there are several types of weight loss surgery options, including sleeve gastrectomy, gastric band surgery, gastric bypass surgery, and duodenal switch, consider bariatric surgeons who offer more than one procedure. Once you meet with a surgeon, they can help you select the surgery that will best fit your weight loss goals, versus trying to force a solution that may not be optimal for you. Easy to use online tools may help you learn more about each procedure, while also assisting you in gathering knowledge and gaining information about local weight loss surgeons.
Other things to consider when selecting a potential surgeon include their experience and credentials. These days, bariatric surgeons are often fellowship-trained, although many excellent surgeons with a proven track record and extensive experience began their practice before these fellowships were generally available. Also evaluate his or her staff, because you will likely interface more with the staff than with the surgeon for ongoing support, questions, and general follow-up. Facility accreditation further helps ensure quality of care. The Metabolic Bariatric Surgery and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP), the gold standard in accreditation, recognizes facilities that implement defined standards of care, document their outcomes, and participate in regular rigorous reviews to evaluate their bariatric surgical programs.
Last but not least, don’t overlook the ancillary and follow-up services provided by the program a bariatric surgeon is associated with. Weight loss surgery is only a tool—one piece of an intricate puzzle. During your weight loss journey, you will likely benefit from emotional support and encouragement, guidance with exercise and healthful living, and information about nutrition and making the right food choices. A comprehensive surgical weight loss program will offer these things and possibly more.
Ultimately, your success depends on your commitment to making permanent lifestyle changes that support weight loss and maintenance. Choosing a surgeon and program that’s a good fit for you will help you achieve this, and your weight loss goals.