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Frequently Asked Bariatric Surgery Questions

Will my procedure be covered by my insurance?

Many health plans will cover this surgery if the patient meets all requirements. For example, you must be able to document that you have seriously tried to lose weight multiple times through conventional methods without lasting results. Patients are encouraged to call their provider and familiarize themselves with their respective plan. Patients should also prepare for a lengthy approval process. Insurance coverage differs among the various types of weight-loss surgical procedures. Your physician will help you with the appropriate steps in the approval process. Click here for more information on insurance eligibility.

What is the youngest age for which weight loss surgery is recommended?
Generally accepted guidelines from the American Society for Bariatric Surgery and the National Institutes of Health indicate surgery only for those 18 years of age and older. Surgery has been performed on patients 16 and younger. There is a real concern that young patients may not have reached full developmental or emotional maturity to make this type of decision. It is important that young weight loss surgery patients have a full understanding of the lifelong commitment to the altered eating and lifestyle changes necessary for success.

What is the oldest patient for whom weight loss surgery is recommended?
Patients over 65 require very strong indications for surgery and must also meet stringent Medicare criteria. The risk of surgery in this age group is increased, and the benefits, in terms of reduced risk of mortality, are reduced.

How much weight can I expect to lose?
Weight loss after surgery depends on how successful you are in making significant dietary and lifestyle changes. Saint Clare's program is designed to support you in making those changes. Most patients lose 10 pounds a month or more during the first year and continue to lose weight, usually at a slower rate for another year. Lap band patients who are not losing weight at a desired rate have the option of adjusting their band periodically.

Successful habits include eating three small, well-balanced meals, and a maximum of two low-fat snacks each day. Avoid carbonated or sugary beverages and alcohol. Carbonated bubbles overfill the stomach pouch. Sugar and alcohol add empty calories.

A program of regular exercise is very important for promoting and maintaining weight loss. Patients tend to gain weight if they start eating larger portions, consume high fat or "junk" foods, or drink high-calorie beverages. In about 6 percent of cases, surgery cannot produce the physical changes required to achieve the expected weight loss.

Can weight loss surgery prolong my life?
There is good evidence from scientific research that if you have Type 2 diabetes (or other serious obesity-related health conditions), are at least 100 pounds over ideal body weight, and are able to comply with lifestyle changes (daily exercise and lowfat diet), then weight loss surgery may significantly prolong your life.

Can I get pregnant after weight loss surgery?
It is strongly recommended that women wait at least one year after the surgery before a pregnancy. Approximately one year post-operatively, your body will be fairly stable (from a weight and nutrition standpoint) and you should be able to carry a normally nourished fetus. You should consult your surgeon as you plan for pregnancy.

Is there a difference in the outcome of surgery between men and women?
Both men and women generally respond well to this surgery. In general, men lose weight slightly faster than women do.

Will I be asked to stop smoking?
Patients are encouraged to stop smoking at least one month before surgery.  To find out about a smoking cessation program, please inquire through the Center for Weight Loss Surgery or your Baratric Surgeon.

If I continue to smoke, what happens?
Smoking increases the risk of lung problems after surgery, can reduce the rate of healing, increases the rates of infection, and interferes with blood supply to the healing tissues.

Will I be miserably hungry after weight loss surgery since I'm not eating much?
Most patients say no. In fact, for the first 4-6 weeks patients have almost no appetite. Over the next several months the appetite returns, but it tends not to be a ravenous, "eat everything in the cupboard" type of hunger.

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