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Weight Loss Surgery FAQ

1. Should I consider having weight loss surgery?

It is not for everyone.  Doctors will recommend it for people who:

  • Have body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more-about 100 lbs overweight in males or 80 lbs overweight in females.
  • Have a lower BMI (35-39.9), but have serious health problems related to obesity (heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes, high cholesterol or severe sleep apnea).
  • Have tried and failed to lose weight by non-surgical means; diet or exercise.
  • Fully understand the risks associated with weight loss surgery and are motivated.

2. How do I know if I am eligible?

Patients must meet specific criteria to be considered for evaluation at the Center for Surgical Weight Loss at Riverside Community Hospital:

  • BMI of 40 or greater or BMI of 35-39.9 with one co-morbid condition (diabetes, hypertension, increase cholesterol, sleep apnea, polycystic ovarian disease, etc.)
  • Have a stable psychological evaluation with adequate social support to help them through the course of surgery and the postoperative period.
  • Be cleared by your primary doctor of all medical conditions.
  • Be 18 years of age or older.

3. Does Type 2 Diabetes make surgery riskier?

It is possible, but follow the instructions from your surgeon about managing your diabetes before the surgery.  Many people see big improvements in Type 2 Diabetes or even remission after surgery.  There have been some studies, which report improvement of Type 1 Diabetes after bariatric surgery.

4. When can I start exercising again after surgery?

Right away! You will begin walking in the hospital.  The key is to start SLOW.  If you lift weights or do sports, do “low impact” for the first month (avoid completion.)  Build slowly over several weeks.  Do not swim until wounds have healed.

5. When can I go back to work after surgery?

Most patients return to work after 2-4 weeks.  Some people are able to work from home as early as one week after surgery.  Many patients may have low energy due to the reduced calorie intake from 1-2 weeks.  Most patients gain their energy back after they start eating soft food.

6. How bad is the pain after surgery?

Most people will have some pain. The pain is usually a little more than laparoscopic gallbladder surgery.  Most people just need to take an oral pain medication for a few days after surgery.  Most patients did not feel the pain was the major issue during recovery.

7. Do I need to take vitamins and minerals after surgery?

You need to take a multivitamin for life.  In addition, you may need higher doses of certain vitamins or minerals; especially, iron, Calcium, and Vitamin D.  Be sure to have your labs drawn each year.  Most insurance companies do not pay for the vitamin and mineral supplements, but will pay for the labs.  The supplements may be covered out of a flex medical account.

8. How do I find a Bariatric Surgeon?

Collect a list of names; ask friend, relatives and co-workers.  Check into centers or hospitals offering support groups or educational seminars.  You can learn more about the actual procedure, the benefits and the risks.  Go to these seminars and ask questions.

Questions to consider when choosing a bariatric surgeon:

  1. Is the specialist board certified by the American Board of Surgery?
  2. Is the specialist a member of the American Society of Bariatric Surgeons?
  3. How many weight loss surgeries has the surgeon performed? (100 or more is ideal.)
  4. How many of the surgeon’s patients have died from weight loss surgery? (Less than 1% is the average.)
  5. How often do patients have complications?
  6. What side effects are most common?
  7. What is the surgeon’s success rate

9. How will weight loss surgery help me lose weight?

There are two types of weight loss surgery procedures—restrictive and malabsorptive surgeries.  Each helps with weight loss in a different way.

  1. Restrictive Surgery (Sleeve Gastrectomy) – physically restricting the size of the stomach, thus limiting the amount of solid food one can eat. A normal stomach can hold approximately 3 pints of food.  After restrictive surgery, a stomach may only hold 4 oz of food; however, over time it may be able to hold more.
  2. Malabsorptive Surgery (Gastric Bypass) – changes the way one digests food. This surgery is more complicated.  Parts of the intestine are removed, creating a shortcut for the food to be digested.  Therefore, fewer calories are absorbed into the body.  The combined malabsorptive/restrictive surgery creates a smaller stomach pouch, which restricts the amount of food one can eat.