Finding an obesity surgeon

If you decide to have surgery then your next step is to find a reputable surgeon. Whether you are looking to have the treatment done on the NHS or privately, you will still need to find a surgeon who specialises in obesity surgery.

Ideally, they will be highly qualified, experienced and focus upon an area of expertise. So, if you are thinking of a gastric bypass then you want to find a surgeon who only performs this procedure and has done so many times.

Either way, your first step is to talk to your GP. He or she will be able to discuss this with you but bear in mind that it is not his/her area of expertise. However, in order to help with this some obesity surgeons have provided GP’s with referral questionnaires. These contain a list of questions about medical history, medication, awareness of aftercare and so on. This questionnaire is designed to identify those patients who would benefit most from surgery.

If you are looking at the NHS paying for surgery than be aware that funding is funding is finite and that obesity comes a fair way down the list of surgical priorities. For more information visit the
NHS referral page.

Your GP can still help even if you are thinking of having this done privately. He/she will be able to refer you to a surgeon. You then have the choice of being treated as a private patient in an NHS hospital (paying for your own treatment) or finding a specialist hospital or clinic. You may have private healthcare and are thinking of using this to pay for surgery; but, many insurance providers do not cover obesity surgery as they see this as a ‘lifestyle issue’ rather than a medical condition. For more information visit the private referral page.

Here are a few things to consider when choosing a surgeon:

  • Is he or she a member of the FRCS (Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons)?
  • Are they listed on the Specialist Register of Plastic Surgery as held by the GMC (General Medical Council)?
  • Is your surgeon a specialist bariatric surgeon? This is a technically demanding specialism which should not be undertaken by a general surgeon.
  • Does your surgeon hold a NHS consultant post or have they held one in the last five years?
  • Opting for obesity surgery means treatment by a multi-disciplinary team which includes the surgeon, dietician and counsellor/psychologist. Check to see what team you surgeon has and does it contain any of these personnel? These are vital when it comes to your preparation before surgery and the aftercare.
  • Can your surgeon recommend a local patient support group? These are very useful in terms of being able to provide much needed help and guidance about obesity surgery. They can also advise you about finding a surgeon.
  • Is your surgeon in your local area? For example, if you live in Cumbria and your surgeon is based in Kent it will be very difficult to access him/her when required. If there is an emergency then it is better if he/she is close to hand to deal with it.
  • And, do you like your surgeon? This may sound trivial but it is very important that you like your surgeon, that you feel you can trust him/her and are confident in his/her abilities. You are literally, placing your life in his/her hands so it is crucial that you have a good relationship with him/her.

These also apply when considering cosmetic surgery. As this is not available on the NHS you will have to find a private clinic or hospital who specialise in that branch of surgery.

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