How to Choose the Best Weight Loss Clinic
One-size-fits-all might be a good option for t-shirts but not for weight loss clinics. Most are credible and safe, but some advertise results that sound — and usually are — too good to be true.
More than 70 percent of adults in the United States are overweight or have obesity. Any type of successful and sustained weight loss, though, requires making healthful lifestyle changes, not only in eating but also in behavior and physical activity.
If you’re looking to shed some pounds, do your research on various programs and facilities and educate yourself on what these clinics offer and how they collaborate with you to meet your specific weight loss goals. Also, talk with your doctor or another certified healthcare professional. According to the National Institutes of Health, safe and successful weight-loss programs should include:
- Behavioral treatment, also called lifestyle counseling, that can teach you how to develop and stick with healthier eating and physical activity habits
- Information about getting enough sleep, managing stress and the benefits and drawbacks of weight-loss medicines
- Ongoing feedback, monitoring and support throughout the program, either in person, by phone, online or through a combination of these approaches
- A plan for keeping the weight off, including goal setting, self-checks and counseling support
We’ve compiled a comprehensive list of what a reputable and safe weight loss clinic should entail, but it’s important to ask questions about any program or facility you’re considering. A website is typically a good resource because it provides an overview of the facility and any programs they offer.
Board-Certified Physicians and Well-Trained Medical Staff
Choose a weight loss clinic staffed with a board-certified obesity medicine specialist or bariatric surgeon. These healthcare professionals are specifically trained to do surgery that aids in weight loss.
Don’t be afraid to ask how long a weight loss doctor you’re looking into has performed bariatric procedures or where that professional has received his or her training. Check for guarantees that your prospective surgeon is up to date on the newest and safest bariatric surgery techniques and procedures. Look for a doctor who will not only talk to you about the procedure but also thoroughly verify your medical history and discuss any risk factors you might have coming into the surgery.
If you’re considering medical tourism, make sure the bariatric surgeon you select is certified by the Mexican Council of General surgery (Consejo Mexicano de Cirugía General) and the Mexican College of Bariatric Surgery and Metabolic Medicine (Colegio Mexicano de Cirugía para la Obesidad y Enfermedades Metabólicas). The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS) offer a guide to providers in cities around the world.
Likewise, the other healthcare professionals and staff members at any reputable weight loss clinic should be trained and experienced in bariatric patient care. The program should be overseen by a physician or other certified health professional and staffed with qualified nutrition counselors. Other physicians involved in your bariatric procedure, such as an anesthesiologist, should also be appropriately licensed and board certified.
The staff employed by a safe and reputable weight loss clinic should be able to provide you with information on typical results achieved through their program, how long the average patient keeps the weight off and the program’s drop-out rate. A high drop-out rate might be indicative of unhappy patients who haven’t achieved the results they were told to expect.
Expenses and Other Fees
Cost is a huge factor in choosing a weight loss clinic, but it shouldn’t be the only one. Although bariatric procedures are performed on a regular basis, they still come with risks.
Ask the staff at a weight loss clinic you’re considering about the total cost of the program, including any additional services and fees. For example, some clinics give interested patients a basic price, only to mention later expenses associated with the operating room, laboratory and other medical tests, meal replacements and supplements, nutrition counseling and follow-up care.
An Accredited and Certified Facility
Great doctors will be very careful of the facilities they operate from. However, just to be safe, verify the facility’s credentials. Ensure that the clinic has been accredited by an independent organization such as the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF), which demonstrates a facility’s commitment to providing the highest levels of safety and surgical care. Choosing to have bariatric surgery at an internationally-accredited facility is even better.
If you’re planning to visit a clinic in another country, make sure it has received accreditation from International Society for Quality in Health Care (ISQua) and has employees who speak your language. Check that the facility utilizes evidence-based approaches to weight loss and has the most up-to-date technology and other tools (i.e., electronic health records, body fat composition measurement) for bariatric procedures.
Avoid clinics where you’re given a high-pressure sales pitch, told of “miracle” results or forced to purchase mandatory supplements. If the advertising seems too good to be true, it probably is! If possible, visit the facility before your surgery, or at least take a virtual tour. Ask about the clinic’s cancellation policy and what policies are in place for dealing with any post-procedure complications.
Weight-loss programs to avoid include those that make any of the following promises:
- Lose weight without diet or exercise!
- Lose weight while eating as much as you want of all your favorite foods!
- Lose 30 pounds in 30 days!
- Lose weight in specific problem areas of your body!
Referrals and Reviews
Talking with or hearing from patients who have undergone the bariatric procedure you’re considering at the clinic you choose is recommended. Look for well-rounded and representative reviews and referrals, not only the ones you can find online.
Ask your prospective bariatric physician to provide you with references. Excellent physicians will be more than happy to give you information on former patients and even refer you to testimonials for reference. Another great tool is RealSelf, an independently operated site that combines doctor’s expertise and patient’s unfiltered reviews, experiences and before and after photos.
After undergoing bariatric surgery, you’ll need a solid follow-up plan for sustained weight loss success. Find a weight loss clinic that will provide you with ongoing supervision and support while you’re in the program, even if it’s done remotely. If you’re planning to travel outside of the United States for bariatric surgery, arrange for follow-up care with your primary care physician or another trusted doctor with knowledge of the type of procedure you’re going to have.
At Vida Wellness and Beauty Center, we have our own certified recovery beds, nursing staff with training, and an after surgery surgical center. Our recovery boutique has both single and double rooms with comfortable, hospital-style beds and a private bathroom. It offers multiple dining options and numerous amenities and services, including:
- 24-hour nursing care
- A business center
- Free international calls to the U.S. and Canada
- Free unlimited local calls
Our entire team is bilingual and board-certified, and our convenient Tijuana location allows us to offer competitive bariatric surgery pricing in a modern clinic that exceeds international standards set by the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF). Our board-certified and bi-lingual bariatric surgeon, Dr. Gabriela Rodríguez Ruiz, is licensed in both the United States and Mexico, boasts ten years of experience and has performed more than 5,000 surgeries.