Why should I consider bariatric surgery?
Bariatric surgery is done to help you lose excess weight and reduce your risk of potentially life-threatening, weight related health problems, including:
Bariatric surgery and other weight loss surgeries are typically done only after you've tried to lose weight by improving your diet and exercise habits.
How do I know if I qualify for surgery?
If your body mass index (BMI) is greater than 40, or if your BMI is between 35 and 40 and you have health conditions related to your weight, such as high blood pressure, sleep apnea or diabetes, your insurance may cover bariatric surgery. We will work with you to find out what your insurance requirements are. To determine your BMI, see the BMI calculator.
What are the risks?
As with any major surgery, bariatric surgery and other weight loss surgeries pose potential health risks, both in the short term and long term.
Risks associated with the surgical procedure can include:
- Excessive bleeding
- Adverse reactions to anesthesia
- Blood clots
- Lung or breathing problems
- Leaks in your gastrointestinal system
- Death (rare)
Longer-term risks and complications of weight loss surgery vary depending on the type of surgery. They can include:
- Bowel obstruction
- Dumping syndrome, causing diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
- Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
- Stomach perforation
- Death (rare)
How long will I have to wait before surgery?
Preparing for surgery can take anywhere from four months to a year or more. There are several things that need to happen before we can schedule surgery. You will need to meet with our registered dietitian at least three times, although some insurance companies require six visits over a six month period of time. You will also see one of our behavioral health professionals who will help make sure you are ready for the lifestyle changes necessary for long-term success. You may need to spend a night at the sleep medicine center to be tested for sleep apnea. We also need to make sure you meet all of the requirements from your insurance company.
How long will I have to stay in the hospital?
Most people will spend two nights in the hospital. If you have your surgery on a Monday, you would probably go home on Wednesday.
How long will I be out of work?
Some people are able to go back to work within two weeks after surgery. You may have to take more time off if there are other health concerns or if your job requires heavy lifting.
When can I eat regular foods?
If you have the gastric sleeve procedure, you will need to stick to full liquids such as protein shakes, creamed soup and cream of wheat for three weeks. If you have Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, you will need to eat a blended or pureed diet for several weeks. These foods do not have to be bland. You will work closely with our registered dietitian to find soft foods you like that provide the amount of protein you need. Gradually you’ll go back to eating a regular diet of healthful foods. It is important to know there may be some foods your body may not tolerate after surgery, such as red meat, some breads and starchy foods.
Is the surgery reversible?
You should consider bariatric surgery for weight loss an irreversible procedure. Technically, the surgery can be reversed, but it brings potential complications. If you don’t make necessary lifestyle changes, it is possible to regain the weight you lose.
Will I need cosmetic surgery?
Most patients do not choose to have cosmetic surgery. Patients are encouraged to exercise and maintain a healthful diet to minimize the need for cosmetic surgery. If you choose to have cosmetic surgery, we can refer you to a skilled plastic surgeon. Most insurance companies will not pay for cosmetic surgery unless it is medically necessary.
How much weight can I expect to lose?
Bariatric surgery can provide long-term weight loss. The amount of weight you lose depends on your type of surgery and your change in lifestyle habits. It may be possible to lose half, or even more, of your excess weight within two years. In addition to weight loss, bariatric surgery may improve or resolve conditions often related to being overweight, including:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Severe sleep apnea
- Type 2 diabetes
Bariatric surgery can also improve your ability to perform routine daily activities, which could help improve your quality of life.