According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an astounding 66 percent of all U.S. adults are overweight or obese. Faced with an elevated risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, many obese Americans are considering turning to bariatric (weight loss) surgery.

What should a consumer look for in a bariatric program? Here are five tips from Nick Nicholson, M.D., medical director of weight loss surgery program at Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano, an American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence®.

"One procedure may be more effective for you than another, so explore all options,"

Weight loss surgery requires life style changes and effective follow-up to be effective. Look for a program that will educate you about the options for weight loss surgery and the post-operative regimen — exercise and changes in diet — required for each option. Take the time to thoughtfully consider at least two programs.

Look for surgeons who perform more than one type of weight loss surgery. As a consumer, you can choose from among gastric bypass, adjustable gastric banding or the gastric sleeve procedure. "One procedure may be more effective for you than another, so explore all options," urges Dr. Nicholson.

Experience Matters
Studies have shown that complication rates from weight loss surgery vary greatly from one surgeon to another. Because previous experience is key, ask your surgeon how many of each operations he or she has performed.

The Relationship Matters
You may see your surgeon at least four or five times in the first year. Be sure that the surgeon and his staff are genuinely interested in you and committed to your success.

You Matter, Too
To succeed, weight loss surgery requires hard work from you, the patient. Ask what support you can expect post-surgery. Does the program offer support groups, psychological support, exercise or physical therapy? Are dietitians available to help you develop better eating habits and food plans? "I frequently tell our patients that 90 percent of their long-term success is in their hands, not mine," says Dr. Nicholson.