Weight Loss Surgery With Privacy?
In the last few years, I have been approached by a number of people who were not comfortable sharing this health decision with the public. A number of them are famous for one reason or another and wished to undergo weight loss surgery, but they did not wish to disclose this decision publicly. I have also performed weight loss surgery for a number of private citizens who felt that they would prefer to keep their health decisions and weight loss surgery decision private.
It is part of the physician’s code of ethics to honor patient privacy. As a physician and surgeon, I always strive to do the utmost to do so. Bariatric surgery is no different from any other health decision when it comes to privacy.
Or is it? Studies have shown that people wishing to lose weight are more successful when they have the support of friends and family, or others like them who are also striving to lose weight. In addition, many of the best weight loss surgical programs provide not only support groups but also group education events such as seminars and classes on weight loss surgery, weight loss techniques, dieting, exercise, etc.
So how do we respect the privacy wishes of an individual and also offer the very best weight loss solution?
I have spent a lot of time thinking about this question, and ultimately I have crafted what I think is the best solution for the patient who wishes to protect their privacy and not disclose their decision to have weight loss surgery.
What I have done in these cases is make special arrangements to minimize the exposure of the patient to any other patients or bystanders in the office or at the surgery center. We have gone so far as to create an alias under which people schedule their appointments and check in at the surgery center. We have also created a personalized version of the classes and study materials and utilized on-line teaching and training methods.
All of this has worked well, and for the person who wishes to keep their decision to have weight loss surgery private, we can both respect that decision, and provide the best surgical weight loss solution.
There are pros and cons to pursuing weight loss surgery in this private fashion. You may avoid unwanted judgments but miss out on some support from other people. And of course, there is no absolute guarantee to privacy!
In a future blog post, I plan to discuss more aspects of this question:
Should you keep your decision private or should you disclose it?