Fariba Dayhim, MD/Bariatric Surgeon

After graduating from the Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Dr. Dayhim completed a surgical residency at the same school and went on to work there as an assistant professor of surgery. In 2001, she traveled to the United States for a research fellowship at the University of Michigan. She then repeated a surgical residency to be able to practice in the US. Following this, Dr. Dayhim completed a minimally invasive/bariatric surgery fellowship at Texas Medical Center/The Methodist Hospital in Houston. She chose this fellowship for its excellent minimally invasive training, but says “the bariatric part grew on me! Before my fellowship, I did not believe in the effects of bariatric surgery. But I was able to see the life-changing impact of metabolic surgery when offered to the right candidate, along with patient education, preparation, and follow up.”

Why did you pursue obesity medicine certification?

I am a bariatric surgeon. I finished my fellowship in 2009 and started practicing. While practicing, I noted a gap in treatment. While bariatric surgery was an excellent tool, it wasn’t for everyone for a variety of reasons ranging from a patient’s medical background to surgical history, to simply emotional readiness. I also had patients who needed to lose over 100 pounds to just fit on the operating room table.

Many doctors have told us about the “aha” moment that stimulated their interest in obesity medicine.  Do you have an obesity medicine “aha” moment that sticks out in your mind?

My “aha” moment was in late 2010, when a patient who was attending all our pre-weight loss surgery dietary sessions for several months failed to show any progress. We could not move forward with her surgery. She had not met the safe goal weight, and most importantly, I was not sure she had mastered the healthy behavior. What she said deeply affected me: I thought you were going to help me get there.

How do you currently incorporate your obesity medicine training into your practice?

I use both surgical and medical treatment in my practice to create personalized plans.

Why do you believe obesity medicine certification is valuable?

No two people are the same. No size fits us all! With more tools in my toolbox, I am much more effective.

What is the biggest challenge you face in your practice?

Getting people to seek help! We all know less than 1% of patients who benefit from weight loss surgery actually get it. I believe the ratio is probably true for all patients who benefit from some form of physician-supervised weight loss. Most people only seek proper help after years of trying fad diets and similar methods.

What has been your greatest achievement so far?

It is hard to pinpoint. I have been fortunate enough to serve my patients using a strong education and experience background. Yet, creating a unique program that truly puts the patient first has been a great achievement. I spend an hour or two with each patient to truly know them, way beyond what they eat, as I believe so much more goes into our weight issues.

What do you wish other physicians knew about obesity?

I believe all physicians should at least get some training in the basics. Although not all practices can or should be focused on obesity, all deal with it. Knowing the basics and incorporating some efforts in each visit will help many specialties in improving patients’ general health, or preparing and pre-habilitating their patients for their respective procedures.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience with obesity medicine?

I was one of the first bariatric surgeons in the country to get my ABOM certification. As a bariatric surgeon, obesity medicine physician and the Medical Director of a Comprehensive Bariatric Program, I find the variety in my toolbox to be the most effective tool of its own. It provides my patients a bias-free environment, where their care is not directed by what I can do, but by what fits their needs, background and lifestyle.

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