bariatric, weight loss surgery, surgical weight loss, bariatric surgery, vertical sleeve gastrectomy, weight loss 101

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Frequently Asked Questions

The following are some of the most frequently asked questions about bariatric surgery and our program.

Q. How soon can I get my initial consultation?

A. The first step is to complete the Bariatric Surgery Educational Seminar session. Before or after completing this seminar, you can attend the Weight Loss Support Group meetings as discussed previously in this guide.

Q. Why do I have to attend these meetings?

A. The Bariatric Surgery Educational Seminar will help you decide if this surgery is right for you. The Weight Loss Support Group meeting is under the direction of the Bariatric Program Coordinator and run by the Bariatric Center staff, of which a few have personally had bariatric surgery. Attending this meeting gives you the opportunity to talk personally with people who have "been there and done that". They know firsthand the ups and downs of bariatric surgery and will be able to share their experiences with you.

Q. What if I have already attended meetings like this somewhere else?

A. Every program is different; therefore, the best way to decide if our program is right for you is to complete our Bariatric Surgery Educational Seminar and attend Weight Loss Support Group meetings.

Q. Does it cost anything to attend these meetings? Who should attend these meetings with me?

A. There is no fee to complete the Bariatric Surgery Educational Seminar or attend Weight Loss Support Group meetings. Parking is free. We encourage you to bring your spouse, significant other or an adult family member to these meetings. Some of the material discussed at the meetings may not be appropriate for children, so we ask that they not accompany you.

Q. Will my insurance pay for the bariatric surgery? If I don't have insurance, how much does weight loss surgery cost?

A. Insurance will pay on bariatric surgery, as long as it is a covered benefit on the policy and we prove that it is medically necessary. For individuals who do not have insurance or whose insurance does not cover weight loss surgery, we offer special pricing.

Q. Is the bariatric surgery done laparoscopically?

A. Yes. When you meet with our surgical team, they will discuss with you if you are a candidate for laparoscopic surgery.

Q. How long will I be in the hospital?

A. Your hospital length of stay is estimated to be two to three days for gastric bypass and vertical sleeve gastectomy, and one to two days after adjustable gastric band surgery. Longer hospitalization may be necessary for treatment of complications.

Q. How long will I be out of work?

A. One to two weeks is the typical time of recovery from laparoscopic abdominal surgery. If your surgery has to be converted to an open procedure, your recovery time will be four to six weeks. Your type of work will also influence how soon you may return.

Q. What is the risk of surgery?

A. Bariatric surgery is major surgery that can result in major complications, including death. You should discuss these complications with the surgeon.

Q. How successful is the surgery?

A. The goal of bariatric surgery is to bring you down to a healthier weight and treat medical conditions associated with obesity. Following the dietary and exercise guidelines ensure the best chances for success.

Q. Is it true that I will have to take vitamins for the rest of my life?

A. Yes, you will need to take a daily vitamin with iron, extra calcium and vitamin B-12. Our dietitians will discuss this with you during the evaluation. The NMMC Employee Pharmacy has a list behind the counter of the bariatric recommended vitamis that they sell. The Walgreens at the corner of South Gloster Street and Crossover Road (near our clinic) has a shelf with vitamins and protein supplements labeled "Dr. Pinson and Dr. Cauthen recommend these vitamins" to make it easy for patients.

Q. What about hair loss after surgery?

A. Some patients experience thinning and/or hair loss after surgery. The dietitians have found several dietary supplements that may be effective in minimizing this condition. Adequate protein intake is key. This is normally a temporary problem that usually resolves over time as your body adjusts to the new diet.

Q. When will I have to see the doctor after surgery?

A. You will see the surgeon two weeks after your surgery. During that visit a post-surgery plan will be given to you.

Q. Who can do a tummy tuck or remove excess skin after weight loss?

A. Once your weight loss has stabilized (one to two years after surgery), we will refer you to a plastic surgeon to discuss the removal of excess skin if requested.

Q. Can I get pregnant after surgery?

A. Yes, you can. It is very important to wait at least two years after your surgery to become pregnant. You will need this time to adjust physically and emotionally to your weight loss and diet before becoming pregnant.

Q. After I have completed all of the required evaluations, how long does it take to get my pre-surgery appointment with the surgeon and how long after that appointment can my surgery be scheduled?

A. Once you have completed all of your evaluations your records will be forwarded to the Bariatric Clinic. Generally, it will take one to two weeks for you to be seen by your surgeon and the surgical team. Once that appointment has been completed, a surgery date will be scheduled. We will file a request for authorization with your insurance company. It will take from two to six weeks to hear from your insurance company. A surgery date will be scheduled when we receive written authorization from your insurance company.

Q. Is the NMMC program accredited in bariatric surgery?

A. Yes. The Bariatric Center is accredited by the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program as a Comprehensive Center and is recognized in the Optum Centers of Excellence Network. Weight loss surgery at NMMC is covered by many health plans, including those for teachers, state employees and many offered by employers. So, check your health plan benefits, talk to your doctor and weigh your options.