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When Should You Visit a Bariatric Surgeon?

Image: Smiling doctor and patient with a can, discussing bariatric surgery blog for a blog post on when to visit a bariatric surgery

When Should You Visit a Bariatric Surgeon?

Obesity is becoming an epidemic in the United States. Unfortunately, as people continue to gain weight, they also face associated medical issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and sleep apnea. Many people have tried every fad diet that is introduced with the result of losing weight, only to regain it as soon as they stop dieting. For some, bariatric surgery is the answer to their weight loss issue.

In Miami, you certainly want to look and feel your best, so if you are struggling with your weight, you have probably looked at all the available options. Have you considered bariatric surgery, but you aren’t sure if it’s for you? Let’s take a look at how to start the process, when you should consult a surgeon, and what you can expect from your initial consultation. Having that information can help you feel more confident in your decision to consider bariatric surgery as a weight loss option.

How Do You Start the Process of Bariatric Surgery?

First, you should understand that bariatric surgery is not necessarily the answer for everyone. As with any surgery, risks exist, so you must be a good contender for bariatric surgery before consulting a surgeon. Good candidates for the surgery have a BMI (body mass index) that is 40 or above, exceed their ideal weight by more than 100 pounds, or have a BMI of 35 or above, along with complications of obesity. Some of those complications include Type II diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and sleep disorders like sleep apnea.

Before considering bariatric surgery, you should try other, less invasive, means of losing weight. Nutrition and exercise programs that are specifically designed for you should be tried. You should talk with a healthcare provider about weight loss means you’ve already tried. The discussion should include your honest opinion on why you could not accomplish your goals before now. You should also discuss your attitudes toward food, and this discussion could lead to referrals to behavioral health specialists.

You should get a full medical exam before you meet with a bariatric surgeon. Truthfully, some people do not qualify for the procedure because of their current health conditions. In addition to a full physical examination, you should meet with a nutritionist or dietician to begin changing your eating habits. If you are approved for the procedure, you will make drastic changes to your eating habits, and you should begin to be nutritionally ready for that change before you undergo the procedure. The dietician can also help you identify and correct any vitamin or mineral deficiencies you may have before the procedure.

This is the time to eliminate any bad habits you may have. Smoking is particularly risky for those who are about to undergo a surgical procedure. So, if you have been a smoker, this is the time to stop. Your overall health will be better for it. Another preparatory step is to get tested for sleep apnea if you haven’t been already. It’s important for your medical team to know if sleep apnea is an issue because that can affect how your body handles anesthesia. It’s better to have the tests done before the procedure than to be surprised on the operating table.
When Should One See a Bariatric Surgeon?After you’ve discussed your medical history with your doctor, been through the appropriate medical testing, and your healthcare provider determines you could be a candidate for surgery, it’s time to consult a bariatric surgeon. The surgeon will assess your medical records and the recommendation of your medical provider to determine if you are indeed a candidate for the procedure. The general rule is that if you are obese with a BMI of 35 or greater with complications from obesity or a BMI of 40 or greater without the complications, you are a candidate for a discussion with a surgeon.
What Would a Bariatric Surgeon’s Initial Consultation Look Like / What to Expect?The initial meeting with your bariatric surgeon probably seems like a scary thing. However, it doesn’t have to be. Think of it as your way to get to know him and vice versa. He will review your records, discuss your medical history, and discuss potential procedure options with you. Four bariatric procedures are currently available, and your surgeon will discuss which one is the appropriate choice for your situation and why. This is also your opportunity to ask any questions you may have for your team. You want to be as informed as possible because you are about to face a life-changing operation. Ensure that you understand each step of the pre-, during, and post-surgical procedures.

Your physician will order specific pre-surgical testing to check your readiness for the procedure. These tests will help him evaluate your body’s readiness as well as plan exactly how to proceed when you are under anesthesia. Among the tests that will likely be ordered are ultrasounds and blood tests. The blood tests will give the medical team a better picture of how your organs are currently functioning, and they will alert them to any potential vitamin or mineral deficiencies that need to be corrected before you can undergo the operation. As with other surgical procedures, an EKG (electrocardiogram) will be performed to test your readiness for anesthesia.

Additionally, your medical practitioner will give you instructions to follow leading up to the date of your procedure. These instructions could include losing a certain amount of weight on your own before the operation. You will also be instructed about what to expect when you arrive for the procedure, including how far in advance to be on-site, what to bring with you, and how long you should expect to remain at the hospital or clinic. Often, you will also discuss general post-operative expectations and instructions at this meeting as well. When you are ready for a bariatric surgery consultation, contact Dr. Fiszer and the team at Elite Surgical Miami.

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