What Does a Bariatric Specialist Do?

Britt Archer
Britt Archer
A bariatric specialists may assist a bariatric surgeon in completing gastric bypass surgery.
A bariatric specialists may assist a bariatric surgeon in completing gastric bypass surgery.

A bariatric specialist is a physician who specializes in the treatment of obese patients and conditions that are related to their weight. Practitioners of bariatric medicine include doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners. These specialists also concentrate on the prevention and causes of obesity. The word “bariatrics” was coined in 1965 from a German word that translates to English as “large.”

Treatment provided by a bariatric specialist often includes exercise, changes in lifestyle, medication, and sometimes surgery.
Treatment provided by a bariatric specialist often includes exercise, changes in lifestyle, medication, and sometimes surgery.

Obesity, the state of being at least 20 percent overweight, is a condition that can lead to other diseases and health problems, including several that can be fatal. It is necessary for a bariatric specialist to be specially trained in these conditions and the ways in which weight can affect them. Obesity by itself can also be fatal.

Diseases that can be caused or exacerbated by obesity include diabetes, some cancers, arthritis, stroke, hypertension, gout, heart disease, and sleep apnea. Obesity also can increase a person’s chances of developing stress incontinence, skin ulcers or wounds, and gall bladder and respiratory diseases. Treatment provided by a bariatric specialist can vary but often includes exercise, diet and other changes in lifestyle, medication and sometimes surgery.

A bariatric specialist may supervise someone who's hoping to lose a significant amount of weight.
A bariatric specialist may supervise someone who's hoping to lose a significant amount of weight.

A bariatric specialist supervises a patient’s weight loss plan and nutrition to ensure the patient is getting adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals while limiting caloric intake. A psychological component can also be part of the treatment, especially if a patient overeats because of emotional needs. Prescription medicines to help a patient lose weight can be used for a short period.

Practitioners of bariatric medicine may include doctors and physician assistants.
Practitioners of bariatric medicine may include doctors and physician assistants.

Bariatric surgery, sometimes referred to as gastric bypass surgery, is an option, but only in extreme cases. When surgery is recommended, a bariatric specialist will work hand in hand with a bariatric surgeon to ensure a patient is receiving proper care. Patients who undergo bariatric surgery also must embrace diet and lifestyle changes for the results to be permanent.

A bariatric specialist will treat patients suffering from conditions related to being overweight.
A bariatric specialist will treat patients suffering from conditions related to being overweight.

Nurses who specialize in the care of bariatric patients have special considerations in dealing with treatment. A patient’s weight may make some types of movement difficult, and this could lead to falls and injuries. In a hospital setting, these nurses can ensure breathing aids are available for patients who suffer from sleep apnea, or more rugged and size-appropriate wheelchairs and other devices are on hand for patients who have mobility problems.

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Discussion Comments

anon993065

I had bariatric surgery in 2008 in California. I now live in Geneva IL, and having lots of stomach issues with dumping syndrome, rapid heartbeat, upset stomach. I would like to know is there anything I can do about it or what kind of a doctor should I go see or this issue?

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    • A bariatric specialists may assist a bariatric surgeon in completing gastric bypass surgery.
      By: llhedgehogll
      A bariatric specialists may assist a bariatric surgeon in completing gastric bypass surgery.
    • Treatment provided by a bariatric specialist often includes exercise, changes in lifestyle, medication, and sometimes surgery.
      By: olly
      Treatment provided by a bariatric specialist often includes exercise, changes in lifestyle, medication, and sometimes surgery.
    • A bariatric specialist may supervise someone who's hoping to lose a significant amount of weight.
      By: Sergio Martínez
      A bariatric specialist may supervise someone who's hoping to lose a significant amount of weight.
    • Practitioners of bariatric medicine may include doctors and physician assistants.
      By: Burlingham
      Practitioners of bariatric medicine may include doctors and physician assistants.
    • A bariatric specialist will treat patients suffering from conditions related to being overweight.
      By: Creativa
      A bariatric specialist will treat patients suffering from conditions related to being overweight.
    • The best bariatric specialists are licensed physicians who have become board certified in their area of expertise.
      By: s_l
      The best bariatric specialists are licensed physicians who have become board certified in their area of expertise.
    • A bariatric specialist may help patients track progress and set attainable goals.
      By: Ljupco Smokovski
      A bariatric specialist may help patients track progress and set attainable goals.
    • Obesity can increase a person's chances of developing gall bladder diseases.
      By: designua
      Obesity can increase a person's chances of developing gall bladder diseases.