Choosing a weight loss clinic for your bariatric surgery is no simple task. Apart from the large financial investment involved, keep in mind that you will be interacting with your surgeon and their staff, lifelong for post-bariatric care.
Depending on the surgery you undergo, you will be meeting with your doctor a few times beforehand and then quite regularly in the year to follow. You’ll also meet with a registered dietitian and a psychologist. In some cases, getting approved for the surgery can take several months. Your clinic might also require that you follow a specific diet to lose weight before the surgery, which can take up to a year!
Needless to say, you should take this step of the process seriously and make sure you team up with a well-established, top-notch weight loss clinic.
Look for a Certified Specialist
Due to the increasing popularity of weight loss clinics and programs, it isn’t uncommon to come across subpar weight loss clinics and surgeons. Good customer and patient care ratings are simply not enough when it comes to bariatric surgery; the experience and expertise of a surgeon should not be underrated.
Make sure you check a surgeon’s credentials before committing to their program. Are they a member of relevant societies, such as the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery or the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons? Are they more skilled in one type of bariatric procedure than another?
The clinic you choose should have one or more Board Certified surgeons, ideally with a decade of experience under their belt. That isn’t to discredit young surgeons. It goes without saying that your bariatric surgeon should come from a quality bariatric training or fellowship program regardless of age and experience.
Consider the Options That Offer You a Free Consultation
In the world of weight loss clinics, a free initial consultation is a given; most clinics will offer a free consultation to compete with other clinics in the market.
A free consultation is an opportunity to get a feel for the clinic, potentially meet professionals you’ll be working with, and ask all your questions. The information you receive should provide clarity and inspire confidence while realistically addressing expectations and potential risks.
Ask For Stats
Statistics should also inform your decision when choosing a weight loss clinic. As you research clinics, consider the following stats:
- Complication Rates During Surgery: These differ between procedures, but the clinic or doctor you select should have lower than average complication rates.
- Client Satisfaction Results: Ask the clinic for testimonials and survey results from previous clients and simultaneously search the web for reviews about the clinic. Check reviews on Yelp, Facebook, and Google. If the clinic offers a support group, get in touch with some of its members, and ask about their experience.
- Official Accreditation: Weight loss clinics can receive accreditation to ensure they meet minimum standards both in the medical field and as a business. For instance, the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program is a national accreditation standard for bariatric surgery centers.
As a business, a weight loss clinic can be accredited by the U.S. Better Business Bureau, requiring the clinic to undergo a vetting process, ensuring the company meets minimum standards. Even if the BBB hasn’t accredited a weight loss clinic, you can read customer reviews on the BBB website to inform your decision.
Make Sure There is a Good Follow-up Plan
Follow up is an integral part of weight-loss surgery. Its purpose is to ensure you’re recovering adequately after your surgery, adapting to your diet, and not having issues with your nutritional intake.
Most weight loss clinics provide their patients with a follow-up plan that involves postoperative monitoring, blood work, and weight management. These appointments take place at the four-day, two-week, six-week, three-month, six-month, nine-month, one-year, one-and-a-half-year, and two-year mark. Beyond that, follow-up is annual to ensure patients remain on track with their weight.
Notice These Red Flags
As you investigate weight loss clinics in your area, keep an eye out for these red flags:
- They use fake patient testimonials. Fake reviews are, unfortunately, quite common. It’s easy to spot one if you’re approaching your search with a critical eye.
- They make unrealistic claims and promises. Neither a clinic’s website nor staff should make unrealistic claims or promises. The word “cure” shouldn’t be among their selling points.
- They don’t organize, nor do they offer, support groups or counseling services. Weight loss is as much a psychological process as it is a physical one. An established clinic knows this and ensures there are services to address your psychological wellbeing during your weight-loss journey.
- They don’t accept, nor do they bill insurance. A reputable clinic should accept and bill insurance (although your policy may not cover these procedures).