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5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Surgeon

One of the most critical decisions before undergoing surgery is the decision to choose the right surgeon. Surgeons differ by outcomes, qualifications and training, experience level, customer service, and the healthcare system in which they practice. It is critical to research these elements, as they will greatly influence your overall experience with surgery.


The most important attribute of a surgeon is his/her ability to produce consistently superior outcomes. To find out about your surgeon's outcomes, you should be prepared to ask some hard questions: How often do complications such as infection or bleeding occur after surgery? What is the typical length of stay? How often are patients re-admitted after discharge? How often do patients return to the operating room to remedy a complication? Does the surgeon keep long-term data after surgery? Ideally, your surgeon should be able to readily provide you this information. With good outcomes, you are assured you are in good hands.

The following are some of our outcomes:

  • Since the inception of our bariatric surgery program in 2002, our mortality rate remains zero (the national average is 0.1-0.2%), our laparoscopic completion rate (completion of a procedure laparoscopically without the need to convert to open approach) is 100%, and our overall staple line leak rate is 0.06% (the national average is 2%).  In September 2022, we celebrated completion of 1200 consecutive laparoscopic vertical sleeve gastrectomies without a staple line leak over a ten year period. Our Sleeve Gastrectomy operative time averages 55 minutes, and length of stay is 1.5 days.
  • In our series of laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair, our recurrence rate is 1.3% (the national average is 1-10%). To date there has been zero occurrence of major bleeding, mesh-related complications, or need to remove mesh after surgery. Average recovery is 1-2 days.
  • In our series of robotic colon resections, our average hospital length of stay is 3.1 days. Having championed an evidence-based protocol to reduce surgical site infection at Good Samaritan Hospital, our surgical site infection rate remains below 3%.
  • In our series of laparoscopic and robotic repair of hiatal hernia and fundoplication, we have had no occurrence of intra-operative or post-operative complications such as tight wrap, bleeding, infection, or injuries. Our hospital length of stay is 1-2 days.
Qualifications and Training

When deciding to undergo a minimally invasive procedure, you need to know whether your surgeon received fellowship training in minimally invasive surgery at an accredited fellowship program after completion of residency training. Is your surgeon current on his/her specialty board certification? Is he/she a fellow of the American College of Surgeons? Is he/she affiliated with a professional specialty organization? Has your provider maintained current knowledge by receiving continuing medical education? The following are some information about Dr. Zaré's qualifications and training:

  • Dr. Zaré received his residency training in General Surgery at Georgetown University, Washington, DC. After residency, he completed additional two years of fellowship training in Advanced Laparoscopic Gastrointestinal and Bariatric Surgery at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  • Dr. Zaré is certified by the American Board of Surgery and is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons.
  • He is a member of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.
  • Dr. Zaré continually maintains his medical education by keeping abreast of research publications and technologic advancements. Additionally, he is active in teaching other surgeons and medical professionals via educational talks and workshops.

It is important l to know how long your surgeon has been in practice and how many of the specific procedures you will be undergoing he/she has performed. Studies have shown direct correlation between surgeon experience and incidence of postoperative complications.

  • Dr. Zaré has been in practice since 2002. He performs approximately 500 advanced laparoscopic and robotic procedures each year. These include bariatric weight-loss surgery such as Sleeve Gastrectomy, digestive surgery such as gallbladder or colon surgery, and abdominal wall hernia repair. Since 2002, the top procedures in our practice include Laparoscopic Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy, Laparoscopic Inguinal Hernia Repair, Robotic Repair of Hiatal Hernia and Fundoplication, Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy, Repair of Ventral or Umbilical Hernia, and Robotic Colon Resection.
Customer Service

The treatment you receive starts well in advance of surgery and continues afterwards. Before surgery, you may need to obtain past medical records, perform new tests, and receive evaluation by medical specialists. Following surgery, you will need follow-up care with your surgeon and you may require additional assistance of medical specialties. In order to coordinate all of these, your surgeon should have staff members who are compassionate about their job and available to their patients. Our staff include:

  • Evelyn Mercado, Receptionist. Evelyn is your first point of contact in our office. She will ensure you will receive timely consultation, reminders, or appropriate follow-up visits. She will assist you in obtaining paperwork or filling forms.
  • Megan Silva, Scheduler, and Medical Assistant. Megan is instrumental in facilitating the back office care of our patients. She helps with rooming, obtaining vital signs, retrieving medical work-up, calculating your financial estimate, applying for insurance pre-authorization, and scheduling surgery.
  • Amelia Acosta, Bariatric Specialist and Program Manager. Always eager to help, Amelia is our experienced bariatric specialist who oversees the care of patients in pursuit of bariatric surgery. Her responsibilities include educating patients about their options, setting up necessary pre-operative visits, ordering tests, obtaining insurance pre-authorization and scheduling surgery.  Amelia also oversees the technical and logistical aspects of our practice.
  • Kathryn Beck, Billing Manager. Kathryn is our resourceful biller who can answer all your questions regarding billing and statements.
  • Dana Schroeder, the Bariatric Coordinator and Certified Bariatric Nurse at Good Samaritan Hospital. Dana is a great resource for bariatric surgery patients at Good Samaritan Hospital. She has over 3 decades of experience and oversees the hospital bariatric program. She teaches classes, coordinates support groups, and answers questions that may arise after surgery.
  • Karen Thomas RN BSN CBN, Bariatric Program Coordinator at El Camino Hospital and Certified Bariatric Nurse. Karen plays a similar role as Dana. She has over two decades of experience in healthcare and education and will help with pre-op education and preparation for bariatric patients. She is always present to assist patients at bedside during hospital stay, and at monthly follow-up group meetings.
Healthcare system

The popular idiom “It takes a village” holds true for surgery. To have great overall results, you need high quality comprehensive care throughout your experience. The need is not just for a good surgeon and a responsive support staff, but includes qualified nurses at the hospital, skilled operating room staff, and a hospital equipped with the latest technology and awarded with necessary accreditations. Obtaining the highest seals of approval from the accreditation bodies involves a rigorous process that includes on-site inspection, and reporting of data and to confirms the highest standards of patient care.

  • We have carefully selected our affiliate hospitals and surgery centers with your well-being at the heart of this decision, to ensure you will receive the highest level of care.
  • As the Medical Director for Bariatric Surgery at Good Samaritan Hospital, Dr. Zaré has successfully led the hospital through several rounds of accreditation in the past decade.