The Essential Weight Loss Surgery Q & A

If you’re tired of trying diets that don’t work and exercise that isn’t yielding the results you’d like to see, weight loss surgery may have crossed your mind. Undergoing bariatric surgery can be a truly life-changing decision. However, there are several factors that need to be considered. Each person is unique and has specific issues that should be discussed with a doctor that knows your health history.

Who is a candidate for bariatric surgery?

Generally speaking, most insurances require individuals with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 40. This includes men that are at least 100 pounds over their ideal body weight or women that are at least 80 pounds over their ideal body weight. In addition, individuals with a BMI between 35 and 40 who have another condition such as obesity-related type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, heart disease, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol, as well as those that have made serious weight loss attempts with diet and exercise and have failed can all be good candidates for this surgery.  

Is weight loss surgery a guarantee for permanent weight loss?

No. Your success will depend on your willingness to follow dietary and exercise guidelines in the months and years following the procedure. The surgery isn’t something that will magically solve all of your weight loss problems. Most bariatric patients have rapid weight loss for the first year, then hit a plateau. Patients may regain some of their lost weight if they are not dedicated to following a strict diet and exercise program. Also keep in mind that patients with the banding procedure will need frequent adjustment of their bands in order to maximize their weight loss potential.

Do I need to be in good health to qualify for the surgery?

Many obese patients are in poor health because of diseases caused by their obesity. These diseases include diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, lung problems and kidney difficulties. Your physician will carefully screen you to be sure you are medically able to undergo general anesthesia and will recover well from surgery.

Will I need any preoperative tests?

Yes. All patients are required to undergo:

  • blood tests
  • dietary counseling
  • exercise counseling
  • a test for the bacteria known as H. pylori that causes ulcers
  • a psychological evaluation
  • medical screening

Other testing is based on your medical screening and may include:

  • heart and lung testing
  • endoscopy under sedation to look in your stomach
  • a sleep study
  • further psychological testing

Also, all patients are required to quit smoking for at least one month prior to their procedure.

How long does the operation take?

Lap-Band® surgery generally takes approximately 30 minutes.  The gastric sleeve generally take approximately 30-45 minutes, while the gastric bypass takes between 60 and 90 minutes.  Of course, patient factors, such as size or previous surgeries, can impact the surgical times.

How long can I expect to stay in the hospital?

All surgeries are performed laparoscopically, and that means that most patients will be able to go home within 24 to 48 hours.

When can I expect to return to work and resume a normal lifestyle?

After a laparoscopic procedure, most patients return to work and all levels of pre-surgery activity within one month. Many patients are able to return to many normal activities, including work, within a week. It is important to avoid lifting and other activities that stress the abdominal region until cleared by a physician.

Will my insurance cover bariatric surgery?

Most insurance companies cover weight loss surgery once you meet certain medical criteria. For example, you may be required to provide documentation from your physician of six to 12 months of medically supervised weight loss. If you’re not sure what your individual coverage includes, we will help work with you and your insurance company to determine if you’re eligible for a covered procedure. If your insurance will not cover the procedure, give us a call!  We can still work with you!

Have questions about bariatric surgery? Contact Dr. Samuel Bledsoe today!

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