Weighing your options for weight loss surgery

Have you tried losing weight through diet and exercise and are struggling to keep the weight off? If you’re considering weight loss surgery, James Swain, MD, bariatric surgeon at the HonorHealth Bariatric Center, shares his top tips on how to choose a bariatric program that’s right for you.

Selecting where to go for treatment

“To achieve successful weight loss, it’s important to carefully examine the program as a whole,” explains Dr. Swain. “Before you even get to surgery, you want to have access to dietitians, exercise physiologists, psychologists and the surgeon. The surgeon’s years of experience is also key, as is their ability to perform a wide range of bariatric procedures which will allow you to have successful outcomes.”

The program aspect allows you to have all parts of your journey tailored to your goals. If you do have weight loss surgery, your care team will create an in-depth follow-up plan containing the amount of food you can eat, what you should eat and how you need to supplement with vitamins and exercise. Your team will also monitor your blood work during the process to make any adjustments to the plan if needed. This is a critical component to weight loss success.

“Our goal at HonorHealth is to serve every patient and treat them as an individual because every patient is different,” shares Dr. Swain. “We want all of our patients to lose weight well.”

Seeking treatment from an MBSAQIP Accredited Center of Excellence, like the HonorHealth Bariatric Center, you can have confidence that you’re getting the highest quality of care and have all the resources you need to give you the greatest chance of success. You’ll not only have access to a variety of specialists; you’ll also receive treatment where everything is geared toward overweight patients. This includes all elements of the facility such as the waiting room, the exam rooms, the operating and patient room if you need surgery, and so on.

An HonorHealth patient decides if weight loss surgery is right for them

Risks to consider for procedures done outside U.S.

There are risks involved when considering going out of the country for a bariatric procedure. Maybe you’re looking to save money or trying to get the surgery done quickly, but it’s important to think about your long-term success.

“I have seen patients after they’ve had surgery abroad and are dealing with complications from having a surgery that was not right for them,” explains Dr. Swain. “One example is someone who had a mini-gastric bypass, and they are experiencing severe heartburn and need to have another procedure, called a revision, to fix their issue. Many patients are also not seeing the results they want because they aren’t given a plan following the surgery.”

Other factors to consider:

  • Emergency care. It may be difficult to get the care you need in a foreign country if you have a complication after surgery. Even after you get back to the U.S., if you have an unexpected complication, you could encounter issues finding a surgeon who can help you, especially in an urgent situation.
  • Regulations aren’t the same in places like Mexico, the Caribbean or Central and South America. In the U.S., there are standards in place to ensure you are getting the safest care. It’s important to take the time to understand local rules and regulations. You can’t assume you are getting the equivalent of a board-certified surgeon just because that is the standard in the U.S.
  • Available patient data. Bariatric programs in the U.S., especially those that are part of a Center of Excellence, are required to report and make data publicly available to patients. Programs in other countries don’t collect or publish statistics because they have no requirement to do so. This means you can’t compare the data to understand the differences in outcomes.
  • Procedure availability. You will often find places in foreign countries that only offer one or maybe two types of surgeries, and they may or may not be the right ones for you. It is also common to find procedures that are out-of-date or no longer the standard in the U.S.

“You want to ensure all facets of your care are tailored to you, including the type of procedure you receive,” says Dr. Swain. “Remember, it isn’t just the surgery itself that will give you the long-lasting results you want. You want to have an in-depth plan, resources available to you to make sure you’re successful and your progress after surgery closely monitored.”

Need help on your weight loss journey?

Look no further than the HonorHealth Bariatric Center where you’ll find a team of experts dedicated to helping you lose the weight and keep it off. You’ll have a nationally and internationally renowned team of bariatric surgeons who will deliver high-quality treatment plans tailored to your needs.

Start your journey today