One Common Belief: What to Expect at Your First Appointment with an Obesity Medicine Specialist
Each office will look different. Each treatment plan will be individualized. Each Obesity Medicine Specialist (Bariatrician) will have a unique educational journey that has led them to this medical field. But there is one common belief that unites all Obesity Medicine Specialists: they all apply scientifically studied medical interventions and compassionate counseling to all of their patients who are affected by the disease of obesity.
An Obesity Medicine Specialist has committed educational time to deepening his or her understanding of the complex disease of obesity and is eager to help you. However, unique circumstances will dictate how an individual provider can offer Obesity Medicine services.
As a result, you may find a wide variety of office settings, office hours, medical insurance coverage, staff and primary medical specialty (such as Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Obstetrics/Gynecology and others). But, if you look deeper, you will find more similarities in these practices than differences.
At your first visit, you can expect an office setting and office staff that are sensitive to your needs. The reading material in the waiting room will be appropriate to your education. The Obesity Action Coalition publishes pamphlets, booklets and a wonderful magazine, Your Weight Matters Magazine, which are all perfect for our waiting rooms!
Your encounter with the provider will be similar to any other appointment you have had in a physician’s office in some ways, and will be different in others. There may be paperwork and consent forms to complete. There will be time with the provider to review your medical history, and to perform a physical exam.
Some tests might be ordered, such as bloodwork, EKG, sleep studies and/or body composition analysis. Blood test results are evaluated to better understand your medical condition. Because each patient is totally unique, treatment plans will vary and may change over time. Once your treatment plan is discussed with you, instructions and, if necessary, prescriptions will be provided.
Sounds just like a regular physician visit, right?
Exactly! However, Obesity Medicine Specialists will dive a bit deeper. We will ask questions that explore your nutritional history in detail. It is important to explore how long you have struggled with weight, how you have dealt with it in the past and if you have any food preferences or allergies. Our nutritional advice will be tailored for you.
We will ask about how well you sleep (and may order a sleep study). Poor sleep is connected to weight gain, so it is important to improve your overall quality of sleep! We will ask about your level of physical activity and what barriers you may have that make regular exercise difficult. We will work with you to plan reasonable and achievable goals for physical activity, and we will evaluate your medical history, family medical history and lab studies to determine the best interventions to maximize your health.
Medications may be recommended to assist with metabolism or assist you in the weight-loss process. We believe these to be wonderful tools that can be utilized while the patient and provider are working together to improve lifestyle choices. And, as we get to know each other, we will explore the behaviors that may help or hinder your health choices and weight-loss efforts.
Mostly, these subjects can be easy conversations but, sometimes, they can touch on uncomfortable subjects. We welcome you to share.
We will never judge, criticize or blame.
If you were to describe a pediatrician’s office, what would you say? Child-like décor, toys in the waiting room, staff who love children. Whether the décor is Disney-themed, ocean-themed or superheroes painted on the wall, we would all expect the pediatrician to understand the medical science of skillfully caring for children.
Expect the same from your bariatrician. The décor may be unique, but the compassion and commitment to excellence in obesity medicine will shine through!
About the Author:
Dr. Suzanne Mackey, MD, graduated from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and completed a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. Her passion for improving the health of her patients led her to become board certified in Obesity Medicine by the American Board of Obesity Medicine. She is co-founder of Weigh Under, a medical office devoted to the practice of Obesity Medicine. Dr. Mackey is active in the Obesity Medicine Association and resides in New Jersey with her husband and three teenage daughters.