Don’t forget the surgeon

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I have always been surprised by how little attention patients pay to the surgeon who will be carrying out their procedure. Of course, patients will meet the surgeon and have to feel confident in them, but the level of questioning about the surgeon’s credentials to do the procedure is seldom more than cursory. 

Quite rightly we place an enormous emphasis on the pre-operative process and the all important aftercare, but the surgeon who is actually doing the op has got a little lost in the process.

I know that when I speak to colleagues, they are often exasperated that patients make choices based on price rather than surgeon.

It’s a mistake to do so. The gastric band procedure in particular is a highly technical procedure. It’s very easy to underestimate the skill required to place the band correctly and in such a way as to encourage weight loss and to reduce the risk of future complications, especially slippages.

All surgeons will tell you that the more cases a surgeon does, the lower their complication rate. 

Some surgeons are inclined to think that bands, and sleeves too for that matter, are easy procedures, but they aren’t! The risk of perforation, slippage, erosion and other visceral injury increases with inexperience. We even know of multiple cases where the band hasn’t even been placed around the stomach.

Having reviewed our own experience with the most experienced band surgeons, such as Mr Paul Super, we see very low complication rates because their methods have been honed over many years.

So, when you are considering surgery, ask your surgeon how many of the procedure they do each year. If it is fewer than 50 cases, or fewer than 250 ever, challenge them on why they feel expert enough to trust your procedure with them. Also ask for their complications rate. A good surgeon will welcome the question. 

So, no matter how well your surgeon comes across in clinic, don’t forget to get the facts. The surgeon’s handiwork is a critical ingredient in your long term success.

Picture of Rishi Singhal

Rishi Singhal

Rishi is an expert bariatric surgeon based in the West Midlands and also Medical Director at Healthier Weight

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