Deciding to get bariatric surgery is a big moment. And you want to feel 100-percent comfortable with the weight loss surgery center you choose.

Get to know the center. Most weight loss centers hold virtual seminars so you can hear their general approach to the weight loss surgery process. The seminar should cover what to expect, how it will affect your life long term, and insurance and payment information.

Respected bariatric centers have teams of weight loss professionals. Look for a center that has:

  • An experienced bariatric surgeon
  • A psychologist or therapist
  • Nutritionists or dietitians
  • Patient coordinators who help you with appointments and insurance

“Weight loss surgery has to be combined with a lifelong commitment to lifestyle changes and eating habit changes,” says Amir Moazzez, MD, Medical Director of Bariatrics at Inova. “We follow our patients very closely in our office for years to come, and we have every help available if they need a dietitian, a behavioral specialist or an exercise specialist.”

Inova Weight Loss Surgery Program is a nationally recognized weight loss surgery program designed to meet your every need. Located at Inova Fair Oaks Hospital, we are a fully accredited Comprehensive Center for Bariatric Surgery.

Our commitment is to you and to high-quality weight loss surgery. Our expert weight loss surgeons have performed more than 8,000 procedures – more than any other physician group in the Northern Virginia and Washington, DC regions. When you meet with the bariatric surgeon for a consultation, we want to make sure you feel truly heard and seen.

Here are questions to consider of what to look for in a center, so you can make an empowered and thoughtful decision.

1. Did the team explore my goals and desires?

Your surgeon should ask you about your goals, not just your health history. While bariatric surgery will help you lose weight, it requires a lifelong commitment to a new eating style.

Explore your feelings and concerns with your surgeon and express your goals. An experienced team will answer your questions with empathy and help you feel comfortable.

2. Did they explain all of the different types of bariatric surgery, including the pros and cons?

Some patients do a lot of research before they start talking to a bariatric surgeon. It’s helpful to understand all of your options, so you can ask questions and have an informed conversation. The goal of bariatric surgery is to shrink the stomach to limit food intake.

Here are the fast facts about four common types of bariatric surgery:

Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding

A bariatric surgeon places an inflatable band over the top of the stomach. The band divides the stomach into a top, smaller portion and a bottom, larger portion. You control the tightness of the band through a small port in the skin.

Gastric banding limits the amount of food you can eat, resulting in weight loss. You can have the band removed if you no longer want it.

Sleeve gastrectomy

This procedure is the most popular bariatric surgery. The surgeon removes 75 to 85 percent of the stomach. Because the stomach size is so small, you’ll most likely lose a large amount of weight. The procedure also affects your gut hormones, making you less hungry. You cannot reverse this procedure.

Gastric bypass

The surgeon first staples the stomach and creates a small pouch. Then the surgeon connects the small intestine to the small pouch, bypassing a large part of the stomach and intestines.

The smaller stomach holds a limited amount of food. Bypassing parts of the stomach and intestines also limits the calories and nutrients you absorb. And the procedure affects the hunger hormone, making you less hungry. These effects all combine to help you lose weight.

However, because the surgery affects nutrient absorption, it’s important to work with a dietitian. Your dietitian will help you develop an eating plan that ensures you’re getting the nutrition you need. This procedure, like gastric banding, can be reversed.

Duodenal switch

This surgery, the biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch or BPD/DS procedure, is a more complex operation. It’s less common than the other procedures are. Doctors usually recommend it for people with a very high BMI (greater than 50).

Surgeons perform a sleeve gastrectomy, creating a smaller stomach. Then they reroute your digestive system, so the food doesn’t pass through the small intestine. This procedure affects how much you can eat, how many calories and nutrients you absorb and how your body breaks down food. All these effects result in weight loss.

3. Did I meet with a nutritionist, psychologist and other staff, besides a bariatric surgeon?

Most insurance plans will cover the costs of bariatric surgery if you follow a documented weight loss plan for six months before surgery. This process demonstrates that you are ready for the lifestyle changes that accompany weight loss surgery.

A nutritionist can help guide you to the right eating plan before surgery and can continue to help you after surgery. Counseling helps prepare you for the changes to your lifestyle after weight loss surgery.

4. Did I research more than one center?

Even though you may feel pulled toward one bariatric surgeon that you meet, make sure you talk to others. Many centers offer convenient telehealth visits and online seminars. Come to those consultations with a list of questions, so you can compare apples to apples when thinking through who to choose.

5. Did I feel comfortable?

Don’t underestimate the power of your intuition. If you don’t feel comfortable with the surgeon or the approach, then rethink it. Bring a trusted friend or family member with you to get another point of view. No matter how much research you’ve done, you probably have many questions you need answered. We invite you to join us to learn about the benefits of weight loss surgery at Inova Fair Oaks Hospital by registering for a free online seminar with one of our bariatric and metabolic surgeons. Click here to register and learn more of about benefits of weight loss surgery at Inova Fair Oaks Hospital.

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