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Choosing the Best Weight Loss Surgery Program


By Dr. Dieter Pohl

If you’re considering weight loss surgery, you know that this will probably be the most important health decision you’ll ever make. Just deciding that you want to get the surgery is a big leap…the start of a multi-year journey to better health.

Now come some important questions. When do you get the surgery done? What’s the recovery process for weight loss surgery like? How much weight can you expect to lose? These are all understandably common questions, but there’s an even bigger one that often slips under the radar:

What kind of weight loss surgery program “fits” you?

Weight loss surgery (also known as bariatric surgery) is an elective procedure, meaning you can pick when and where you want it done. This means you could, in theory, fly across the country to have your procedure. While that’d be a pretty extreme case, many people will have multiple hospitals in a 50-mile radius that offer weight loss surgery. Picking one can be a daunting task, so we’re going to look at a few ways to help you decide what hospital will provide the best weight loss surgery.

Find The A-Team: Look for an experienced weight loss surgery team

Carefully review a hospital’s listed weight loss surgery program. Where was the lead surgeon educated and trained? How long has he or she been specialized in weight loss surgery? How many weight loss surgeries have they done? It’s also a good idea to search the doctors using third party tools like Healthgrades’ Doctor Finder [LINK TO https://www.healthgrades.com/find-a-doctor]. These sites will help you verify the surgeon’s  background and will let see reviews left by past patients.

Location, Location, Location

Once you’ve considered a team’s experience, location is probably the second biggest factor to consider when picking a hospital for weight loss surgery. The closer the hospital is to your home, the better. This will simplify pre and post surgical logistics. If there are  multiple weight loss programs in your area, consider travel time. Is parking accessible? Is it easy to find your way around the building? Is the staff helpful? These points might seem trivial at first, but keep in mind that you won’t be visiting the hospital once for surgery. There will  be multiple consultations, checkups, and support group meetings down the road. Make sure you pick a location that will reduce hassle.

Check the vibe

Ok, let’s say you’ve got a couple of locations in mind, and all locations are equally accessible. How can you narrow down your choices? Ask yourself if the information the program [provided on its web site is understandable. Make sure the website is easy to navigate, and that it offers helpful resources. Is scheduling an appointment an easy and straightforward process? Is the program staff accommodating and friendly? Do the doctors explain material to you in easy to understand terms? A good weight loss surgery program will make you feel more like a family member rather than a serial number.

Group Hugs

Our final tip is one that many people don’t consider right away. Check out the hospital’s post-surgery support. Weight loss surgery doesn’t magically get someone to their goal weight. Rather, it’s the start of a multi-year journey that requires a disciplined approach and major lifestyle changes. No need to go at it alone, though. Some hospitals offer support groups that allow weight loss patients to meet as a group with professional support staff. Check the availability of these meetings, and consider reaching out to past attendees to interview them about their experiences. Perhaps attend a meeting or two. These people will have already been through the pipeline you’re just starting, and will arguably be the best possible measurement of a program’s success.

There’s no one factor to look at when picking a hospital for weight loss surgery. Rather, look at all the little (and big) ways that the hospital’s going to look out for you. A truly good hospital will have your well-being as its number-one priority, and that attitude will be evident in the patient experience. If your experience with a weight loss surgery program before surgery is straightforward and low-stress, chances are your weight loss surgery will be too.

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