For people who have struggled with their weight, bariatric surgeries like gastric band procedures can help them reach their health goals. The entire process should not be considered a quick fix. Often, it takes months to get approved for surgery. Then, you will lose weight over the course of about a year and enter a maintenance phase once you have reached your goal.
Gastric bands and other bariatric options are major surgeries that should not be taken lightly. You will need to check in regularly with your surgeon after the procedure and commit to ongoing support groups. Additionally, with a lap band, you will need to have the band levels checked two or three times per year by a doctor.
To help make this decision, you should ask your surgeon a number of important questions, including:
Which procedure is best for my circumstances?
When it comes to bariatric surgery, several options are available. The procedure that is best for someone else may not be ideal for you and your situation. Asking this question requires the surgeon to become familiar with your history and get to know who you are as a person and a patient.
Typically, the surgeon will need to know about your exercise habits, risk tolerance, lifestyle, and dietary habits and restrictions to answer this question. While the surgeon may ask you directly, they may also get the information from forms you have filled out or information you have given to other providers, so do not worry if they do not ask you these every one of questions directly.
Nevertheless, the selected surgery and the reasoning behind it should be reflective of your circumstances and show that the surgeon has fully considered your case. Typically, surgeons will give you the options along with the risks and benefits of each so that you two can make the decision as a team.
What are your typical rates of complication?
There are several types of complication rates, so be sure that you do your research prior to speaking to the surgeon. For example, each procedure has its own typical complication rate, so you should know the overall average for the surgeries you are considering.
One study from the Journal of the American Medical Association found that gastric bypasses had a complication rate of about 3.6%, gastric sleeves of 2.2%, and lap bands of 0.9%. These numbers refer to serious issues that occur during the surgery itself, not minor problems that present after the surgery.
Let the surgeon explain their personal rates. Even if they are higher than the averages stated above, it could be because they take on riskier cases and explain to patients beforehand the potential problems. This conversation is a great way to address your anxieties related to poor outcomes.
What resources are available to patients?
The outcomes of bariatric surgery depend on much more than what happens in the operating room, and great surgeons understand this. To be successful in reaching your goals, you will need to make lasting life changes.
Ideally, surgeons should make resources available to make these changes and support you as you adjust to your new lifestyle. As a result, they set their patients up with additional resources, such as dieticians, before and after the procedure. However, many people forget to ask about ongoing resources made available to them through their surgeons.
Typically, your surgeon will recommend support group meetings and other professionals who can provide assistance to you on your weight loss journey. Sometimes, bariatric practices even have apps or patient portals that help keep all of these resources nicely organised.
Why should you do the surgery?
Asking a surgeon why they should be the one to do the procedure may catch the person off guard. However, you will surely get some interesting responses and they can help you decide who is the best surgeon for you.
Remember that you will be meeting with this surgeon potentially for the rest of your life, so it is very important to have a great relationship with them. The right response to this question is up to you. Ideally, the surgeon talks about why he was drawn to this profession and how his experience can support you for the foreseeable future.
Surgeons may also talk about their experience, which is a chance to delve deeper into the surgeries that they provide. You may find that the surgeon says someone else would be better suited if you decide to go with a procedure that they do not regularly do, which is critical information.
What will my life be like afterwards?
Surgeons should have a thorough understanding of how a procedure will impact your life. Asking this question can help you parse out how involved the surgeon will be with your recovery and your future weight loss.
Make sure that the answer you get aligns with information available from other resources. Ideally, the surgeon should cover what will happen during the initial recovery period, from any time spent in the hospital to the healing process you should expect at home.
However, the surgeon should also set expectations for weight loss and be upfront about what you will be able to do. Patients should never be caught off guard about the changes to their diet they will need to make as a result of the procedure.
Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.
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