Center of Excellence (COE) in Weight Loss Surgery

When looking for a bariatric or metabolic surgeon, you may hear the term Center of Excellence, or COE. This is an important designation that was first established in 2004. It indicates a high level of experience and adherence to quality standards by the center and the surgeons who operate there. Of course there is no guarantee that a procedure performed at a Center of Excellence will have a better outcome than a procedure performed elsewhere, and there are many good surgeons and surgery centers that are not COE’s. But the COE designation is a strong signal that the center and surgeons are highly committed, experienced, specialists in bariatric and/or metabolic surgery.

What is a Center of Excellence?
A Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence must meet 10 criteria (if it’s a hospital or institution) or 12 criteria (if it’s a free standing practice). Criteria include specific rules around surgeon dedication & qualified call coverage, support groups, long term follow up, and a designated medical director. Surgeons at a Center of Excellence must have a particularly high level of education and experience. All COE surgeons must be board certified. They also must complete on going training, in the form of Continuing Medical Education. In addition to this educational component, the bariatric surgeons must be highly experienced; each surgeon must complete at least 50 cases a year, although top bariatric surgeons often perform many more cases than that each year.

Who decides what surgical centers are designated as COE’s?
Center of Excellence is a designation created by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS). ASMBS is the largest society in the world for bariatric and metabolic surgeons. The Surgical Review Corporation administers COE program for the ASMBS and is directly responsible for the initial and ongoing evaluations for Centers of Excellence.

How does a surgical center become a COE?
A center must go through a thorough review process to become a Center of Excellence. Not only does the center get evaluated, but each surgeon also gets reviewed since ASMBS & SRC believe that it’s the combination of the surgeon and the hospital or surgery center, that leads to more effective and safe results.

Why is the COE designation important?
The Center of Excellence designation tells you that this is a center that is dedicated to safe, successful bariatric surgery. Unlike other surgery centers that may only do a few bariatric surgery cases a year, a Bariatric Surgery COE does many cases a year, which means you’re likely dealing with a more experienced surgeon. Several major health insurance companies now recognize the importance of the COE designation, and require you to choose a COE as the first step in reimbursement for the surgical procedures.

See the Doctors of Weight Loss Center of Excellence surgeons.