The decision to have bariatric surgery can be a difficult one. Find answers to the most common questions our patients ask us when it comes to bariatric surgery.
What is obesity?
Obesity is a medical condition in which a person carries excess fat. It is usually measured by body mass index (BMI), which is a calculation of weight in kilograms divided by height squared in meters. A BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.
Why consider surgery for obesity?
Bariatric surgery is a safe and effective way to shed excess weight and improve the adverse health effects of obesity. According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, weight loss surgery “results in significant weight loss and helps prevent, improve or resolve more than 40 obesity-related diseases or conditions including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obstructive sleep apnea and certain cancers.”
How do I know if I am eligible for bariatric surgery?
Patients must meet specific criteria before they will be considered for bariatric and metabolic surgery:
- Have a BMI of greater than 40, or a BMI of >35 accompanied by other issues related to health (comorbidities) such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or kidney disease.
- Have a stable psychological status with adequate social support system to help them through the course of surgery and the postoperative period.
How long will I stay in the hospital after bariatric surgery?
The average surgical time for gastric bypass is about two hours and sleeve gastrectomy is about one hour. Almost all our patients can walk a few hours after surgery. The majority (more than 95 percent) of patients only stay in the hospital for one or two nights.
How bad is the pain after surgery?
Most patients have some pain after surgery. However, the pain is usually just a little bit more than laparoscopic gallbladder surgery. Most patients just need to take oral pain medications for a few days after surgery. The majority of our patients felt that pain was not a major issue during their recovery.
How long after metabolic and bariatric surgery will I have to be out from work?
After surgery, most patients return to work in one or two weeks. A lot depends on what your work entails. Because of the significantly reduced calorie intake, many patients have low energy for one to two weeks after surgery. However, most patients gain their energy back once they start to have soft food. You will feel tired for a while after surgery and may need to have some half days, for your first week back. We will give you clear instructions.
When can I start exercising again after surgery?
You can take short walks right away, even while you are in the hospital. If you lift weights or do sports, stay “low impact” for the first four to six weeks. No heavy lifting (anything greater than 10 lbs) for the first four to six weeks.
Can I have laparoscopic/robotic surgery if I have had other abdominal surgery procedures in the past, or have a hernia?
Yes. Make sure to tell us about all your previous surgeries.
Does type 2 diabetes or heart disease make surgery riskier?
It can. Almost everyone with type 2 diabetes sees big improvement or even complete remission after surgery. If you have heart disease you may need clearance from your cardiologist. Bariatric surgery leads to improvement in most problems related to heart disease.
When is it safe to get pregnant after metabolic and bariatric surgery? Will the baby be healthy?
We recommend waiting one to two years after surgery before getting pregnant. The good news is that, after weight loss, there is much less risk of experiencing problems during pregnancy (gestational diabetes, eclampsia, macrosomia) and during childbirth.
Will I need to have plastic surgery? Does insurance pay for plastic surgery?
Most patients have some loose or sagging skin, but it is often more temporary than expected. The way your skin responds depends upon several things, including how much weight you lose, your age, your genetics and whether you exercise or smoke. Some patients will choose to have plastic surgery to remove excess skin but this is usually a very small percentage, less than 5 percent. We recommend waiting at least 18 months, but you can be evaluated before that. Plastic surgery for removal of excess skin is usually not covered by insurance unless there is a medical reason.
Will I lose my hair after bariatric surgery?
Some hair loss is common between three and six months following surgery. Hair loss is temporary. Adequate intake of protein, vitamins and minerals will help to ensure hair re-growth and avoid longer term thinning.
Will I have to take vitamins after surgery?
You will need to take a multivitamin for life. You may need higher doses of certain vitamins or minerals, especially iron, calcium and vitamin D. You will also need to have at least yearly lab checks.
Will I have to go on a diet before I have surgery?
Usually no. We may put select patients who are over a certain BMI on a special pre-operative diet, usually two or three weeks just before surgery. The reason for the pre-operative diet is to shrink the liver and reduce fat in the abdomen to help make the procedure safer and easier.
Some insurance companies require a physician-monitored diet three to six months prior to surgery as part of their coverage requirement. This is different than a short-term diet and focuses on behavioral modification and healthy food choices. We have nutritionist available to help you with this process.
Can I go off some of my medications after surgery?
As you lose weight, you may be able to reduce or eliminate the need for many of the medications you take for high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis, cholesterol, and diabetes.
Will bariatric surgery last?
Many patients (up to 50 percent) may regain a small amount of weight (approximately 5 percent) two years or more following their surgery.
However, studies find that most bariatric surgery patients maintain successful weight loss long-term. Such significant and sustained weight loss after surgery is in sharp contrast to medical management
If my insurance company will not pay for the surgery, can I pay the surgery myself?
We do offer bariatric surgery for patients who want to pay cash. Most Hospitals will have payment plan options to help you pay for surgery.