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Bariatric Surgeons

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Once you have made the difficult decision to have bariatric, or weight-loss, surgery, you must set about selecting where to have the operation done. Where you go, and who performs the surgery should be of utmost importance. Bariatric surgery is major surgery. You must ensure that you're in the best possible hands.

Types of Surgeries
In order to select a surgeon, you should first know which kind of weight-loss surgery you're most interested in. There are three kinds: "Restrictive," "Malabsorptive," and combination procedures that combine the two methods. Currently in the United States, the combination approach is the most often performed; the Roux-En-Y gastric bypass being considered the "gold standard" of these.

Nonetheless, before you assume that the Roux-En-Y is the right surgery for you, you should research other options as well. Gastric banding, for instance, is a "restrictive" surgery, which results in a considerably smaller stomach pouch. "Malabsorptive" surgeries are those which affect the intestines, resulting in less caloric (and nutritional) intake from foods eaten. There is also a "combination" approach (like the Roux-En-Y, but riskier) known as the DISTAL gastric bypass.

Another factor to investigate is whether the surgeons can perform these operations either "open," or "laparoscopically." These terms refer to how the abdomen is entered for weight-loss surgery. For instance, in "open" surgery, surgeons create a single incision: in men this incision runs 5.5 to 7 inches in vertical length; in women it runs 4.5 to 6 inches.

"Laparoscopic" surgeries, on the other hand, don't make a single, long incision, but rather create multiple small ones, (typically six) through which a small video camera and surgical instruments are passed. Instead of looking into the body as one would in "open" surgery, the surgeon "sees" via a monitor in the operating room. Many surgeons prefer this type of surgery, and say it gives them better access to the various organs, and allows them to see what they're doing much better. Patients also often prefer laparoscopic surgery, as it is reputed to be less painful, allows patients to resume physical activity quicker, and also results in fewer post-operative wound complications.

Make the Rounds
Contact local and/or regional hospitals. Enquire how many bariatric surgeries are performed each week. Ask which kind of surgeries are performed: gastric banding or gastric bypass. For gastric bypass, do they perform the Roux-En-Y procedure, or the DISTAL? Are most surgeries laparoscopic or open? Inquire who the most experienced surgeons are. You may also request contact information.

The Surgeon Doesn't Work Alone: You Are a Partner
Be prepared to accept that the surgeon is only one expert involved in your recovery, and your goal for achieving a healthy weight. You are an equal partner, and must be prepared to do the work required. Radical changes in diet must be adhered to, as well as a full understanding of the mandatory lifelong follow up care. Emotional preparation is also critical, and the best bariatric surgeons will encourage, if not insist, on psychological counseling, both before and after surgery.

Qualified bariatric surgeons are genuine heroes to the people that need them. Their work helps to save the lives of the seriously obese, by allowing their patients to live longer, healthier lives. In addition to their surgical expertise, make sure that you feel cared for in their presence, and that all aspects of your well being are attended to.

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