How to Find a Bariatric Physician (Weight Loss Doctor)

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A bariatric physician or bariatric doctor is a physician who has received specialized training in the field of bariatric medicine or medical weight management. Bariatric physicians may treat overweight and obese patients with diet, nutrition, exercise, behavioral therapy, medications, surgery or any combination of these treatments.

Someone who has repeatedly and unsuccessfully attempted to lose weight on his or her own may benefit from treatment under the care of a bariatric physician. If this describes you, you may want to reach out and get help from a bariatric physician. A bariatric doctor can help to guide you through the process of weight loss with medical treatments and other resources that you may not have access to on your own.

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. The word has been removed from certain listings because it confused some patients. In 2015, The American Society of Bariatric Physicians changed its name to the Obesity Medicine Association to help consumers better understand what these doctors do.

You can search for an obesity expert by using the online database at Obesity Medicine Association. Through this resource, you may find listings for physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other healthcare providers that are specially trained to manage obesity. These professionals are trained to help you manage nutrition, physical activity, behavior, and medication so that you are better able to reach and maintain a healthy weight.

Your doctor may not be listed in this directory and may not be a member of the Obesity Medicine Association. But that doesn't necessarily mean that he or she cannot help you to lose weight.

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

How to Find a Bariatric Surgeon

If you consider weight loss surgery, you should 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. 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 the resources from American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) and the American College of Surgeons (ACS) to help patients find qualified, trained surgeons to help guide them through the weight loss surgery process. A bariatric surgeon can discuss several important issues with you:

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.

And second, don't be afraid to ask questions. Your doctor is your guide, but he or she 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. So choose a doctor that you trust and work together towards a healthy weight and a long and active life.

*This article was edited by Malia Frey, Weight Loss Expert

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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.