What Do Bariatric Surgery Doctors Do?

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  • Written By: M.C. Huguelet
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 18 November 2019
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Bariatric surgery doctors, also known simply as bariatric surgeons, are physicians who specialize in performing bariatric treatment, a collective term which refers to stomach-altering surgical procedures that facilitate weight loss in significantly overweight patients. The work of a bariatric surgery doctor usually involves performing gastric banding and gastric bypass procedures as well as consulting with patients prior to and after procedures. In most countries, bariatric surgery doctors are required to complete medical school and a multi-year internship, to obtain a license, and, in many cases, to pursue continuing education.

For the most part, the job of bariatric surgery doctors is split between two duties: performing bariatric treatments and consulting with patients. The most commonly-performed bariatric treatments are gastric banding, also known as laparoscopic banding, and gastric bypass. During a gastric banding procedure, a bariatric surgery doctor places an adjustable band around part of the stomach, effectively limiting the amount of food which the patient can eat in order to promote weight loss.

The more invasive gastric bypass procedure involves both limiting the stomach’s size, and surgically rerouting this “new” stomach to the small intestine. These steps restrict both the amount of food that can be eaten as well as the number of calories that can be absorbed, usually leading to significant weight loss. Whether performing gastric banding or gastric bypass, a bariatric surgery doctor must work in cooperation with a team of nurses, anesthesiologists, and surgical assistants to facilitate a smooth procedure and recovery.


Additionally, bariatric surgery doctors usually devote time each day to consulting with both pre-operative and post-operative patients. During meetings with pre-operative patients, the doctors will usually evaluate medical and behavioral histories provided by primary care physicians, help patients decide which kind of surgery is best for them, and ensure that they understand the preparative measures, expected results, recovery process, and risks associated with a chosen treatment. After a patient’s procedure is complete, his bariatric surgery doctor will likely perform one or more evaluations of his recovery before he is discharged from the hospital.

In most countries, bariatric surgery doctors are required to complete an undergraduate degree, an accredited medical school course, and a multi-year internship. After fulfilling these requirements, they generally must obtain a license before they can begin surgical practice. In most cases, they are also required to pursue continuing education to remain informed about the most up-to-date bariatric treatment procedures and protocol.


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