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Choosing the Right Bariatric Surgeon

Choosing the Right Bariatric Surgeon

Factors to consider when choosing a surgeon and clinic, including credentials, experience, and patient reviews.

Choosing your bariatric surgeon is a personal experience. You will want to be sure you connect with the right individual for you but also of most importance, be sure that they are qualified, not simply because they have a nice-looking website, but because they encompass everything that a good and qualified bariatric surgeon should be.

Choosing the Right Bariatric Surgeon

Training, credentials, and experience

A qualified bariatric surgeon must have successfully completed a bariatric fellowship. This is a specialized one year program that a general surgeon must follow in order to be certified and qualified as a bariatric surgeon. Upon completion of their fellowship, they receive certification from the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS).

Prior to a fellowship, a general surgeon receives training in many various types of abdominal surgeries, some of which involve laparoscopic (or keyhole surgery) techniques. However, this is different from some surgeons who have assisted a few bariatric surgeries in their training and consider themselves to be able and capable of knowing how to perform a bariatric surgery. This is a red flag. A true bariatric surgeon spends every day for one year in his fellowship receiving specialized training in only performing bariatric surgeries, over and over again, unless perfection is reached. They not only learn how to perform the surgeries, but they receive in-depth training in understanding the journey of a bariatric patient and how to deal with the risks and complications that can occur.

It’s important for your bariatric surgeon to be highly trained with a bariatric fellowship so that you are not the first complicated case that they operate on. You want your bariatric surgeon to have experienced challenges before so that they are equipped with the knowledge, know-how, and have established a technique for dealing with it rather than having them learn from you for the first time.

Be sure to ask your bariatric surgeon about their bariatric qualification, how many surgeries they have performed, about their safety track record, and their complication statistics. An experienced bariatric surgeon will be able to provide you with these numbers and statistics and will not hesitate to share these with you.

At Weight Loss Surgery Inc. with Dr. Simon Chow you’re in highly experienced hands, having performed private bariatric surgeries since 2015 and having completed his bariatric fellowship at the Legacy Health and Providence Health organizations in Portland, Oregon.

Recovery in a hospital

When recovering from bariatric surgery it’s important to ensure that your surgeon is performing your surgery in a hospital where you will remain to recover. Recovery from a bariatric surgery requires verifying your vital signs, pain management, and support when taking your first sips of liquids, as well as post-anesthesia care including preventing blood clots and adequate breathing.

Some private bariatric surgery clinics propose recovery in a hotel room rather than a hospital during which time a nurse will check in on how you’re doing. However, having a nurse and hospital staff respond to a call bell at your bed while in a true hospital, who can monitor your vitals as needed, and to check in if you call out to them. Moreover, at an established hospital the health care team will have access to all necessary resources, both equipment and personnel including anesthetists and surgeons on call 24 hours to manage possible complications, both medical and surgical. This is what makes a hospital a hospital, with procedures in place to handle anything. This is the level of care all postoperative patients deserve and require.

It’s also important that the hospital be accredited which means that the hospital has undergone rigorous inspection of their facility and practices to ensure excellent care is provided to patients. This makes for safer surgery and recovery as well as peace of mind to know that the bariatric surgeon you chose has selected to only operate in an accredited hospital, thereby taking your safety seriously.

At Weight Loss Surgery Inc. with Dr. Simon Chow, rest assured that he is the only private bariatric surgeon in Canada to operate in a private hospital fully accredited by Accreditation Canada.

Bariatric support team

A good bariatric surgeon knows that bariatric surgery alone does not result in positive weight loss outcomes in the short and long term. Numerous studies have shown that the post-op follow-up is critical to long-term success and prevention of weight regain, in addition to healthier progress with the correction of vitamin deficiencies.

Some private bariatric programs only offer one pre-operative session with a dietitian or perhaps post-op follow-up with only a nurse, or little to no post-op care at all!

At Weight Loss Surgery Inc. with Dr. Simon Chow, your care is not over when the surgery is over. Dr. Chow ensures that patients receive highly specialized care from a bariatric nurse and a bariatric dietitian to ensure that you are getting the best chance possible at losing the weight in a healthy manner, and equipping you with the knowledge and skills you will need to maintain the weight long-term. Our dedicated bariatric nurse and dietitian team will follow you from before your surgery to your 1 year anniversary at specified intervals of 2 weeks, 1 months, 3 months, 6 months, and 12 months. If you have questions or concerns at any moment in between your appointments, our team is only a phone call or email away from supporting you. With our turnkey pricing model, you will not need to pay more for the number of calls or emails you make. If you need extra support and follow-up within 12 months of your surgery, our nurse and dietitian are prepared to assist you. A personalized team means personalized care.

Patient reviews

Whether shopping around for a new product or service, looking up other people’s reviews is a must to learn from other people’s experiences. In today’s world, you have possibly heard about fake reviews being written for some businesses, in some cases even paid to do so in order to give a positive perception of a business.

When choosing your bariatric surgeon, don’t rely on the reviews published on their website as these are not guaranteed to be the direct words of their patients. If the surgeon has Google reviews and RateMDs.com, this can be a good place to start. However everything should be taken with a grain of salt. The best evaluation is a combination of online reviews, online patient groups like Facebook, and word of mouth from any family or friends who may have gone through the process. Lastly, the most important evaluation is the feeling you get after meeting the team.

Dr. Simon Chow has been humbled by the incredibly positive reviews he has received over the years on RateMD’s. These reviews are an attestation to his thoroughness, meticulousness, and his intent understanding that his patients are putting their trust, lives, and their future in his hands.

What are some other key ways to compare between private bariatric clinics?

In addition to the information provided above, you may also choose to compare and contrast private bariatric clinics in Canada by asking the following questions:

✓ Do they provide a “turn-key” service or will they charge you additional or hidden fees for their services related to the complexity of the case, your BMI, or whether you’ve had previous abdominal surgeries? Find out what additional tests or fees you may be charged that are not listed on their website. Oftentimes, some clinics may advertise a lower fee, but later add extra costs along the way. It’s important to compare apples to apples.

✓ Do they have trainees assisting with surgery, or is your surgeon the only one operating on you the entire time? Some surgeons may have assistants conduct the surgery while the surgeon is ‘overseeing’ the procedure in the room.

✓ Is the surgeon who performed your surgery the same one who will follow you from start to finish, even several months out? Some surgeons may perform the surgery but are not the one to conduct the follow-up after surgery.

✓ Do they perform your surgery in an accredited hospital as opposed to an ambulatory or day surgery center? Dr. Chow is the only surgeon to operate in a fully private accredited hospital in Quebec.

✓ Do they admit and monitor you for 1-2 nights after the surgery in an accredited hospital as opposed to sending you to a hotel room? If a surgeon is not operating in a true private hospital (versus a day surgery center) they are not permitted to keep you beyond 23 hours from your surgery time or they cannot keep you overnight.

✓ Do they provide follow-up with a registered dietitian who is highly experienced in bariatric surgery for 12 months after your surgery, and include this in their fees? Some private bariatric clinics provide you with nutrition documents and one discussion with the dietitian as opposed to the standard of care of at least 4 to 5 consults in the first year after surgery.