Bariatric Surgery - Frequently Asked Questions
If you are looking into bariatric (weight loss) surgery, you probably have many questions. The following information provides answers to some of the most frequently asked questions by patients about bariatric surgery.
How do I know if I am eligible for bariatric (weight loss) surgery?
- Most bariatric surgeons and insurance companies, including the Medicare and Medicaid programs, follow guidelines set by the National Institutes of Health to determine a patient's eligibility for bariatric surgery. Individuals are candidates for surgery if their Body Mass Index (BMI) is 40 or higher (morbid obesity), or if their BMI is 35 or higher with obesity-related medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and severe sleep apnea. Individuals will need to be examined by a bariatric surgeon and psychologist for a full evaluation to determine eligibility for surgery.
How do I know if bariatric surgery is the right weight loss treatment for me?
- Bariatric surgery is not the right weight loss solution for everyone, even if the person qualifies based on Body Mass Index (BMI is a measurement based on weight and height). Some individuals may not be suitable candidates because of a disqualifying medical condition; some individuals may not be suitable for bariatric surgery because they are not ready psychologically to live with the lifestyle changes required for a successful procedure. Overweight individuals who are concerned about their health should visit their doctor for a complete evaluation to determine whether bariatric surgery is right for them.
What are my weight loss surgery options?
- The four primary types of bariatric surgery are Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery, gastric banding (LAP-BAND System or REALIZE Band), sleeve gastrectomy (gastric sleeve), and the duodenal switch. Each method has its own set of risks and benefits, so it is important to discuss the options with your doctor to determine the best surgical option for your weight loss needs.
How much weight will I lose following bariatric surgery?
- The amount and rate of weight loss is affected by many variables, including which weight loss surgery you have, your dietary intake, and your level of physical activity. Patients who have restrictive types of bariatric surgery (gastric banding and gastric sleeve) usually lose weight more slowly the first year than patients who have malabsorptive procedures (gastric bypass and duodenal switch), but total long-term weight loss is fairly comparable with each procedure. On average, bariatric patients can expect to achieve and maintain 50% to 60% loss of excess weight.
How does bariatric surgery help me lose weight?
- Bariatric surgery is a tool to help you lose weight, but it will not lead to weight loss unless you adopt a healthier diet and more active lifestyle. Restrictive types of bariatric surgery will aid with weight loss by restricting food intake and reducing hunger sensations. Malabsorptive types of bariatric surgery will limit food consumption, reduce hunger sensations, and limit calorie absorption to promote weight loss. Patients who strictly adhere to bariatric diet guidelines will find that surgery can help them realize their weight loss goals.
How much does bariatric surgery cost?
- The cost of bariatric surgery in the United States typically ranges anywhere from $15,000 to $35,000. The four primary factors determining how much you will have to pay for bariatric surgery are: the type of surgical procedure, bariatric surgeon fee, geographic location, and level of care.
What factors should I consider when choosing a bariatric surgeon?
- A qualified bariatric surgeon is one who has been adequately trained and gone on to achieve a high level of skill through plenty of experience. The experience should not just be measured in years of practice but in the actual number of surgeries performed. Ask prospective surgeons how many years of experience they have in bariatric surgery, how many different types of operations they have performed (shows range of expertise), how many times they have performed the specific procedure you will be having (depth of expertise), if board-certified in bariatric surgery, and if a member of any medical organizations, such as the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS). In addition to finding a qualified bariatric surgeon, it is important to find a doctor that you feel is genuinely interested in your health and will be someone you can honestly and comfortably work with in regards to your weight loss efforts.
How will my diet change after bariatric surgery?
- Specific diet guidelines will vary between procedures, patients, and doctors, but in general the amount and types of foods you will be able to eat will change significantly. All types of bariatric surgery will restrict food consumption to some degree, thus reducing daily caloric intake. Since meals will be small, food choices must focus on high-protein and nutrient-rich foods. Some foods may need to be avoided, either because they are not well tolerated by the body after surgery or because they provide too many empty calories. On average, a bariatric surgery diet plan consists of 1,000 to 1,200 calories a day and provides 50 to 70 grams of protein.