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How do I Become a Bariatric Surgeon?

By Jessica Saras
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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If you're interested in learning how to become a bariatric surgeon, you must first have a broad understanding of bariatric medicine. Bariatric medicine focuses on the treatment and prevention of obesity, and often relies upon pharmaceuticals, therapy, and surgical procedures. To become a bariatric surgeon, you must first receive training to practice bariatric medicine. As with other types of medical training programs, only practicing physicians qualify for training to become a bariatric surgeon.

Bariatric training is completed during a hospital residency program. Training is usually split up into different concentrations: health treatment, preventative methods, and surgical procedures. Although you may find it beneficial to study all three areas, if you want to become a bariatric surgeon, you will need to concentrate on the surgical procedures, which include gastric bypass and lap-band surgery. While you may want to perform both types of surgeries, many bariatric surgeons prefer to initially focus on one or the other.

After completing your hospital residency, you will then need to meet the credential requirements set forth by your country's bariatric medicine licensing board. Although the exact requirements vary by location, generally you will need to perform at least 15 successful procedures to qualify to become a bariatric surgeon. A successful procedure includes pre- and postoperative management, as well as "hands-on" surgical experience performed under the supervision of an experienced bariatric surgeon.

Due to the medical risks associated with gastric bypass surgery, you will generally need to perform approximately 50 successful operations during your residency. If you only want to perform lap-band surgery, you will most likely need to perform at least ten successful lap-band operations. To perform both gastric bypass and lap-band surgeries, you must apply for open privileges, which may require a minimum of 50 successful gastric bypass surgeries and ten successful lap-band surgeries.

Once certified by the your country's medical licensing board, you are then eligible to practice bariatric medicine and perform bariatric surgeries. Bariatric surgeon jobs are most commonly found in hospitals, healthcare centers, and weight loss clinics. Prior to obtaining a position as a bariatric surgeon, you should also update your professional liability and malpractice insurance to provide coverage for bariatric surgical procedures. After six months of practice, the facility that employs you will likely complete a performance evaluation and make any recommendations regarding further bariatric training. These evaluations should be done at regular intervals throughout your career as a bariatric surgeon.

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Discussion Comments

By anon991506 — On Jun 26, 2015

So it takes more than 15-plus years of study and 12 more years to become a weight surgeon? Geez, I'm better off being a cardiologist or psychiatrist.

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