Bariatric Surgery Questions
What is bariatric surgery and how does it help me lose weight?
Bariatric surgery is recognized by the National Institutes of Health as the only proven method of achieving long-term weight control for the morbidly obese, when all other approaches have failed. There are several approaches to bariatric surgery, but all procedures are either restrictive (limit food intake), malabsorptive (limit calories absorbed) or a combination of the two.
Weight loss surgery seems like a big decision. How do I know if it is right for me?
We encourage you to explore all options open to you. A good place to start is attending one of our weight loss informational seminars. As you continue your research, you should also consult with an experienced bariatric surgeon who will make recommendations and outline a personal plan that would be best for you.
Candidates for surgery must have:
- A Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or more OR
- Life threatening obesity-related health problem(s) such as diabetes, severe sleep apnea, or heart disease and a BMI of 35 or more
What are the types of weight loss surgery performed at DeKalb Medical?
The Surgical Weight Loss Center at DeKalb Medical offers several surgical weight loss options, providing patients with a choice in their approach to weight loss. Surgical options include:
The surgical procedure that you will undergo is carefully determined through a one-on-one consultation with your surgeon. This determination is based on specific health and safety criteria, including body mass index (BMI), associated medical conditions, prior history of abdominal surgery and other variables that determine the best outcome for each individual patient.
Is there a guarantee that I will lose weight after the surgery?
There are no guarantees that you will lose weight with any method, including surgery. Successful weight loss is possible only with complete cooperation and commitment to behavioral change and medical follow-up. This requires a lifelong commitment to a healthy lifestyle – one that includes counseling, support groups, fitness and nutrition programs for achieving successful weight loss goals.
What are the risks to these surgeries?
As with any surgery, there are a number of risks involved with weight loss surgery. Like any abdominal operation, this is a major procedure. The body sometimes responds adversely to operations, especially in the obese patient. Known complications include heart attack, stroke, wound infection, internal bleeding, gallstone formation, bowel leakage, hernias, injury to the spleen, serious infections, ulcers, strictures and malnutrition.
You should research and consult with your doctor to discuss which type of procedure is appropriate for you. It is important to discuss with your surgeon the specific risks for someone with your conditions and undergoing your specific procedure.
Have people died from these surgeries?
Yes. There have been people who have died as a direct result of having weight loss surgery. This is unusual, but there is the risk of this happening.
Why do I have to have a psychological evaluation?
A psychological evaluation is helpful in determining which patients might not be mentally and emotionally capable of handling these operations. In addition, most insurance companies require an evaluation prior to being considered for bariatric surgery. Even if your insurance company does not require an evaluation, the Surgical Weight Loss Center at DeKalb Medical does.
How long does the surgery take?
On average the surgeries take one to four hours of operating time. This depends largely on your anatomy and whether you have adhesions (scar tissue) inside the abdomen or have had previous surgery.
How long will I be in the hospital?
Most patients remain in the hospital one to three days. Some may stay longer, but it’s not an indication of how well the recovery may be going. Minimally invasive (laparoscopic) surgery usually requires a hospital stay of one to two days, if there are no complications.
When can I go back to work?
This depends on exactly what type of surgery you will have done, but in general it will be one to four weeks after your surgery. With the Lap Gastric Banding, the time off from work can be significantly shorter, as little as one week in some cases.
What is life like after the surgery?
The decision to have weight loss surgery requires a permanent, lifelong commitment to a healthy lifestyle – one that includes fitness, nutrition, counseling and support. You must follow your doctor’s orders and stick to strict dietary guidelines for several weeks following surgery. Post-surgery guidelines vary by surgeon. You may hear of patients who have different guidelines from your own. Be sure to follow closely the program outlined by your physician since it has been designed for your unique needs. It is strongly encouraged that you join a support group to discuss and learn from people who have had similar experiences with obesity and, later, weight loss surgery. Ask your physician about recommending a support group that will meet your needs.
How much does a weight loss procedure cost?
Costs vary for these surgeries and will depend primarily on your individual needs and the type of surgery you pursue. A range of $20,000 to $23,000 is probably realistic. Medicare and some insurance providers may cover a portion of the cost. If you do not have bariatric insurance coverage, it is still possible to have one of these procedures done on a self-pay basis. With the self-pay option, you won’t be delayed by having to wait for insurance approval. DeKalb Medical offers competitive self-pay package rates.
For more information, please call the DeKalb Medical Surgical Weight Loss Center at 404.501.7081.