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What to Ask the Surgeon During Your Bariatric Surgery Consultation
What are your average results?
You want a competent surgeon, and a quick way to evaluate one is on results. Ask what the surgeon’s patients’ average weight loss is after 1 year, 5 years, and even 10 years (if possible) after the procedure, and compare that to national averages. Also ask about complications and feel free to be specific, such asking what the chances of infections or strictures. Make sure you ask how many patients the surgeon is considering in these averages; you want a seasoned surgeon.
What kind of surgery do you recommend for me, and why?
Ask your surgeon this question whether or not you have a specific type of surgery in mind. If you have one type of surgery in mind and your surgeon recommends a different one, ask why? There may be health benefits, safety risks, or lifestyle factors that you had not considered. However, some surgeons used to doing one particular kind of surgery and recommend it simply because they are more experienced at it.
You want to be sure you and your surgeon can come to an agreement on which type of surgery is safest and likely most effective for you. You want to have a surgeon who is experienced with your type of surgery, and who also offers it to you because it is the best one for you. The decision should take into consideration factors such as:
- Amount of weight to lose.
- Reason(s) why you have had trouble losing weight in the past.
- Current health issues and concerns.
What does your nutritional support include?
The nutritional support that surgeons offer varies greatly. Some surgeons may hand you nothing more than a pre-op meal plan and post-op guidelines, while others may provide comprehensive support for months or over a year post-op. These are some aspects to ask about.
- Regularly scheduled appointments with a nutritionist or dietitian.
- Access to a nutritionist or dietitian when you have questions.
- Food lists and meal plans for each stage of the pre-op and post-op diets.
- Suggestions for helpful products, such as protein shakes and bariatric vitamins.
- How your nutrient levels will be monitored to prevent deficiency.
You need to know what you are getting into before committing to surgery with that surgeon.
Consider your own needs and preferences, too; some patients enjoy the freedom of a minimal meal plan so they can do their own research, while others do better with more support and less wiggle room.
Can you describe your aftercare program aside from nutritional support?
Research shows that increased support after weight loss surgery leads to better weight loss. Ask your surgeon about factors such as:
- Assistance starting and maintaining a safe exercise program.
- Routine psychological help plus what happens if you face common problems such as depression or replacement addictions.
- Support group meeting opportunities and requirements.
- What to do if you have a problem – whom to contact.
Weight loss surgery is a whole new game. Your post-op success will depend on planning, and you can get started now. Maximize your time with the surgeon and get the answers you need during your consultation.