Choosing a Bariatric Surgeon

Laparoscopic gastric banding surgery was first introduced to Australia in 1994. Since then, it has become the most widely used weight control surgery in the country. In 2008 alone, more than 12,000 laparoscopic gastric banding procedures were performed in Australia.

Qualifications

Bariatric Surgeons require a Fellowship in Surgery

  • FRACS – Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons
  • FACSFellow of the American College of Surgeons
  • FRCS – Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England
  • FRCS (Ed) – Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
  • FRCS (Glas) – Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Glasgow
  • FRCSI – Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

Affiliations

  • OSSANZ [Obesity Surgery Society of Australia and New Zealand]
    • Specialist Society in Australasia formed to encourage research, education and communication into this surgical specialty.
  • ASMBS [American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery]
  • IFSO [International Federation for the Surgery of Obesity and Metabolic Disorders]
    • Federation composed of national associations of bariatric surgeons. Currently, there are 40 official member associations of IFSO. There are also individual members from countries that thus far have not formed a national association. OSSANZ is a founding member of the federation.
  • CORE [Australian Centre for Obesity Research and Education]
    • CORE is a Monash University centre that operates within the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences. The Centre is a unique collaboration of renowned national and international researchers and educators studying every facet of obesity.
There is currently no college for Bariatric surgeons in Australia, so unlike Orthopaedic Surgeons who have acquired the skills needed to satisfy college requirements, Bariatric Surgeons are essentially self proclaimed and self regulated. The startling reality of all of this for the consumer who is considering bariatric surgery is that the onus really is on them to make sure that their surgeon has had adequate training in the area and until the surgical college takes this task on, the questions will have to be asked by the patient themselves. So what do you ask a surgeon who is offering you bariatric or weight loss surgery?
  1. Have you had any formal fellowship or post-fellowship training in Bariatric Surgery?
  2. How many of the procedures have you performed as the chief operating surgeon?
  3. Which procedures do you perform and why?
  4. What are the possible complications of the surgery you offer and what are your rates of complication?

Simply asking these questions will give you much more information upon which to make your decision regarding what type of surgery to have and which surgeon you should choose. It will enable you to find out whether your surgeon has completed a fellowship in surgery, taken some special training in the field of bariatrics either in Australasia or abroad and importantly find out whether you will be patient 1 or 1001 on their books! It will also enable you to compare between surgeons with regard to complication rates as all surgeons are responsible for auditing their own work to see that their rates match up to industry standard.

About the Bariatric Surgical Team

Although the Bariatric Surgeon is the principal member of the Bariatric team there are other key members which contribute to your success in preparing for and continuing to maintain a healthy weight after Bariatric Surgery. The Bariatric Surgical Team often includes qualified General Practitioners (GP) with an interest in weight loss management, Bariatric nurses; Dietitians; Exercise physiologists; Psychologists and information/links to support groups

Dietician: An essential component of the Bariatric team is the dietician preferably an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD). They are recognised professionals with the qualifications and skills to provide expert nutrition and dietary advice. Some great websites Australian Websites by Advanced Accredited Practicing Dietitians include:

Psychological Support

  • Psychological counseling before and after the procedure with an accredited psychologist
  • Support Groups such as OzBand
  • Information groups such as NAWLS [National Association for Weightloss surgery]
  • Information on ‘What we should eat
  • Information on ‘Patient care after surgery – PDF’ an information sheet produced by the Australian Centre for Obesity Research and Education [CORE] which discusses Lap-Band adjustment principles and other management advice.
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