Who is a candidate for weight loss (bariatric) surgery?
The primary reason for bariatric surgery is morbid obesity. A person is considered morbidly obese if he/she:
- Is more than 100 pounds over the ideal body weight for a given height
- Has a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 40
- Has a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 35 and is experiencing a negative impact on his or her health due to obesity, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, severe or chronic back pain, sleep apnea and acid reflux.
- Is unable to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, even through medically supervised dieting.
How do I know what type of bariatric surgery is right for me?
You’re already on the right track by understanding that there are many different options to accommodate different patient situations. We encourage you to peruse the treatment options section of this website to learn more about the various options. Beyond that, we highly recommend attending one of our information sessions. When you are ready to get very specific questions answered in privacy, we recommend scheduling a private consultation session.
What are the benefits of this program?
The goal for our patients is to lose at least two-thirds of their excess weight within the first year after surgery. During the first year after gastric bypass surgery, patients lose an average of 10–15 pounds per month, after which weight loss tapers off, depending on diet and activity. Many patients who suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and other weight-related problems see a significant improvement in their health as they lose weight.
Certain medications may be discontinued as a result of weight loss. Success after surgery is measured not only by weight loss, but also by the improvement in the patient’s overall health and well-being. There may be less weight loss after gastric banding than after gastric bypass.
What dietary changes should be made?
All weight loss surgery procedures reduce the functional stomach capacity to just a few ounces. Patients are restricted in the amount and kind of food and fluid that can be consumed at one time. Most patients report feeling full and satisfied after consuming a small amount of food.
To prevent nutritional deficiencies, vitamin and mineral supplements and a high protein intake are required on a daily basis. Successful eating habits for all procedures include taking three small, well-balanced meals each day, with non-caloric beverages between meals. Many patients find that ongoing participation in our Bariatric Surgery Support Groups provides helpful emotional support along with pragmatic ideas.
What kind of lifestyle changes should be made?
For optimal results, it is necessary to make and adhere to major, permanent lifestyle changes. We counsel patients to adopt a new approach to nutrition and exercise so they can lose weight and keep it off.
Exercise is an important part of any weight loss and maintenance plan. Bariatric weight loss surgery is a tool to aid in these changes, but exercise and diet are key to lifelong weight control.
Your surgeon may refer you to to our Cardiovascular Pulmonary Wellness Center. There, you can work with an exercise physiologist who is trained to work with bariatric patients.
What are the risks of weight loss (bariatric) surgery?
In general, the rate of surgical complications is 2 to 5 percent. Some complications require additional surgery to repair. Surgical complications can include bleeding, abdominal abscess, blood clots, wound infection and healing problems. Leaks or bleeding can occur at the site where the stomach or intestine has been divided and reconnected.
Food blockages can also cause unpleasant symptoms. You can prevent food blockages by cutting foods into small pieces, chewing your food very well, and avoiding high-sugar and high-starch foods.
What is the success rate?
Research on patient progress after surgery shows positive results:
- About 75 percent of patients lose 60 to 70 percent of their excess weight.
- Adult onset diabetes is resolved or improved in 98 percent of patients.
- Approximately 80 percent of patients see improvements in sleep apnea, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol issues.
Will insurance cover weight loss (bariatric) surgery?
Many health plans cover weight loss surgery, if you meet their criteria. It is your responsibility to contact your insurance company first and make certain that weight loss surgery is a covered benefit within your specific plan. If you have an HMO plan, you will need to obtain prior authorization for surgical consultation from your primary care physician. Please note that health plans vary widely in the specific services they cover, the amount you will be reimbursed for services, and the out-of-pocket expenses you will have for weight loss surgery. If the surgeon accepts you as a surgical candidate, a letter will be submitted to your health plan stating why weight loss surgery is medically necessary for you. Once your health plan provides pre-authorization, you may be scheduled for a surgery date. For patients not covered by insurance, there are self-pay options.
What should be done in preparation for weight loss surgery?
When you become a candidate for weight loss surgery, you will be assigned a medical team, which consists of your surgeon, a registered dietitian and a bariatric nurse specialist. They give you detailed nutrition counseling and information regarding hospitalization. Your health history is reviewed in detail. Typically, there are a series of visits to help in the preparation for surgery. To be considered for weight loss surgery, you also need a psychological evaluation. The medical care team is there to support you and assist in making the pre-op process as easy as possible.
The experts at El Camino Hospital can provide you with in-depth information about our bariatric surgery program both in person at an information session or private consultation session. and through one of our detailed brochures.
What happens after the surgery?
Laparoscopic weight loss surgery typically requires a hospital stay of one to three days. Most patients can resume normal work activities within two to three weeks after surgery. In some cases, it is not possible to complete the surgery laparoscopically, and a larger incision must be made to complete the surgery. This will extend the hospital stay and recovery time. During the hospital stay, patients continue working with their health care team.
Monthly Bariatric Surgery Support Groups and exercise programs are available to offer patients extra encouragement and support after leaving the hospital. Weight loss surgery is a tool to help people lose weight. Success requires commitment and dedication to making diet and lifestyle changes.