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The Most Important Question to Ask Before Weight Loss Surgery

Tim Boyer's picture
Study shows surgeons not consistent between related procedures

So you’ve decided that weight loss surgery may be the best option for you for successful weight loss. But did you know that a new study recently revealed what is the most important question you need to ask before agreeing to having a weight loss surgical procedure? Read on and discover what that question is.


According to a recent article published in the journal Surgery, a new study revealed that while some surgeons are very good at one weight loss surgical procedure does not necessarily mean that they are equally proficient in other weight loss surgical procedures—and that can make a difference in your surgical outcome.

Fox News reports that in the study, 20 bariatric surgeons were videotaped while performing a gastric bypass weight loss procedure. The taped surgeries were then reviewed and rated by thirty-three other surgeons who rated each videotaped surgeon’s performance and categorized them as rating relatively top, middle or bottom of the pack.

What the study showed was that regarding complications, the ratings correlated well with actual surgeries of the same type performed previously by the videotaped surgeons. In other words, the higher a surgeon in the pack was ranked by his peers, the fewer complications his or her patients experienced from the surgery.

Here's what researchers discovered about Why Gastric Bypass Surgery Really Works.

This in turn begged a new question: Will the rankings hold if the same 20 surgeons perform a different weight loss surgical procedure such as a sleeve gastrectomy?

To answer this question the surgical records of nearly 7,700 sleeve gastrectomy surgeries performed by the same 20 surgeons was analyzed. What the data showed was that all 20 ranked surgeons had similar rates of surgical and medical complications following the sleeve gastrectomy procedures they performed regardless of how skilled they were at gastric bypass operations.

Here’s why “The Sleeve” is the Preferred Weight Loss Surgery Procedure.

Fox News reported that:

• Overall complication rates after sleeve gastrectomy were 5.7 percent for top-rated surgeons, 6.4 percent for the middle surgeons, and 5.5 percent for the bottom.

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• Hospital readmission rates were 3.8 percent for top-rated surgeons, 4.8 percent for the middle surgeons, and 3.1 percent for the bottom. The reoperation rate was 1.1 percent for all skill levels.

The authors of the study determined that the reason for the results is that although both surgical procedures were for weight loss, that they differed significantly in the skills required. Therefore, just because a bariatric surgeon is excellent in one type of procedure does not mean he or she can perform equally well in a related procedure.

The study’s authors concluded that “Video ratings of surgical skill with laparoscopic gastric bypass do not predict outcomes of laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy. Evaluation of surgical skill with one procedure may not apply to other related procedures and may require independent assessment of surgical technical proficiency.”

Here's a Lesser Used Surgical Method That Actually Results in More Weight Loss.

The Bottom Line Weight Loss Advice

So the key message here is that when it comes to weight loss surgery—or any surgery—ask your surgeon (tactfully) if this is the procedure he or she does the most. You might also want to inquire about complication rates, readmissions and reoperations. In fact, you might want to consider taking a copy of the Surgery journal article with you to initiate a discussion with the findings that might then lead him or her to initiate revealing their procedure batting average without your having to dog him or her for details.

For an informative article about dealing with doctors, here is One Shocking Reason Why Getting a Second Opinion is So Important.


Fox News “Surgical skill not equal across weight-loss surgeries

“Surgical skill in bariatric surgery: Does skill in one procedure predict outcomes for another?” Surgery (Article in Press, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.surg.2016.04.033); Varban, Oliver A. et al.