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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Myth of the "Call your surgeon!".

When you have surgery and ask questions or have problems afterwards, you will find people saying this simple statement "Call your surgeon!" or "What does your surgeon say?". This is a bit of a confusing response that I feel the need to explain.

When that phrase is used, what most of us really mean is "what does your surgeon's team say about that?". You see there is a bit of a myth that goes along with surgery - that you'll constantly be in contact with or need to see your surgeon every time a problem erupts.

It is true that if you are having major issues like strictures (not keeping things down) or issues with the mechanics of surgery that you will need to actually see your surgeon, but for the most part, you have to realize that your surgeon is an expert in the mechanics of surgery. Your surgery is not necessarily an expert in your aftercare such as diet, nutrition or psychological aspects that go along with surgery. That's why it is of the utmost importance to make sure that your surgeon has an excellent aftercare team comprising of experts like a dietician, social worker or psychologist, and so forth. These are the people that you will need to talk to the most after surgery. If your surgeon is isolated and has no team behind him/her, I would seriously think of a new surgeon. You need after care. After care is critical to being successful with WLS.

Recently, a lady in my support group was upset because she was having pain and the bariatric team told her to go to emergency. Another lady I know was upset when at her 6 month follow up, she did not see the surgeon but rather "just the dietician and social worker".

Any time you have pain, it will not be the surgeon that you will not see. Again, his/her duty is over. You would go to emergency and they would decide by tests whether it would be something like your gallbladder, kidney stones, or appendix. Your surgeon again is the expert at the surgery he performed on you. If you cannot hold things down and have a stricture, s/he would fix that because it is a direct issue with surgery. But otherwise you will see the inside of the emergency department when you have pain, not your surgeon's office.

As well, the surgeon's last job really is to check that your incisions are healed. When that's done, his/her job is pretty much done and that's when you need the other specialists - dieticians etc to help you with your aftercare. The surgeon does not necessarily read the latest studies on how many grams of protein you need or what studies say in terms of the latest vitamin info.

So remember when we say "see your surgeon!" that it means call your surgeon's office and contact that after care team. That's what they are there for and they are worth their weight in gold :)


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