How to Find a Bariatric Physician (Weight Loss Doctor)

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A bariatric physician or bariatric doctor is a professional with specialized training in the field of bariatric medicine or medical weight management. They help overweight and obese patients with diet, nutrition, exercise, behavioral therapy, medications, surgery, or any combination of these.

If you have repeatedly and unsuccessfully attempted to lose weight on your own, you may benefit from seeking help from a bariatric physician. This doctor can help guide you through the weight loss process with medical treatments and other resources that you may not otherwise have access to.

Bariatric physicians are trained to treat obesity as a disease, not as a personality or lifestyle flaw.

How to Find a Bariatric Doctor

You may not see the word "bariatric" listed when you search through medical directories. This is because it has been removed from certain listings due to the confusion it caused some patients.

In 2015, The American Society of Bariatric Physicians even changed its name to the Obesity Medicine Association to help consumers better understand what these doctors do. You can search for an obesity expert using this organization's online database.

Through this resource, you can find listings for physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other healthcare providers specially trained to manage obesity. These professionals are able help you manage nutrition, physical activity, behavior, and medication so you are better able to reach and maintain a healthy weight.

If your doctor isn't listed in this directory and/or isn't a member of the Obesity Medicine Association, that doesn't necessarily mean that they cannot help you to lose weight. Talk with them about your goals and ask if they can help.

There are many healthcare providers who are experienced with weight loss and other medical conditions. Your provider can discuss your weight and, if necessary, will refer you to experts that can help. This may include a bariatric surgeon.

How to Find a Bariatric Surgeon

If you are considering weight loss surgery, you would speak to a bariatric surgeon. A weight loss surgeon is a medical doctor who is trained in surgical methods that address obesity.

Your primary care physician may be able to suggest or refer you to a surgeon in your area. Or you may find a qualified bariatric surgeon through the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP).

The MBSAQIP is a certification program that combines resources from the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) and the American College of Surgeons (ACS) to help patients find qualified, trained surgeons to guide them through the weight loss surgery process.

A bariatric surgeon can discuss several important issues with you:

  • Whether you are a good candidate for weight loss surgery
  • The risks and benefits of weight loss surgery
  • Different types of surgery for weight loss
  • What weight loss surgery recovery looks like
  • Life after weight loss surgery

You can use the online database at ASMBS or the online directory at the American College of Surgeons to find a surgeon in your area. There is also a helpful guide for finding a qualified surgeon to help you sort through surgery qualifications and certification. The MBSAQIP also certifies weight loss surgery centers so that you can find a program in your area. 

How to Work With a Bariatric Physician to Lose Weight

It doesn't matter if you choose a medical or surgical treatment for weight loss. The guidelines for working successfully with your doctor are the same. First, always be completely honest about your lifestyle and your expectations. Your healthcare provider needs accurate information to provide you with the best care.

Second, don't be afraid to ask questions. Your doctor is your guide but they can't do the hard work of weight loss for you. So it's important that you fully understand any instructions or recommendations that they provide.

Your life may depend on good communication between you and your bariatric physician. Choose a doctor that you trust and work together to move you towards a healthy weight and a long, active life.

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Article Sources
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  1. Obesity Medicine Association. American Society of Bariatric Physicians will change its name to Obesity Medicine Association. July 30, 2015.

  2. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Types of bariatric surgery. Updated July 2016.