How Do I Prepare for Bariatric Surgery and What are Reasonable Expectations?

The HealthGal Health Guide
  • Patients who investigate bariatric surgery will be screened to see if it is a good treatment option for you, from a physical and health perspective, as well as from a mental health/psychological perspective.  Not everyone is a good candidate.  The health team will help you decide which bariatric weight loss approach is a good match for you.  The bottom line assessment you need to make is to recognize whether your weight and current health state will benefit from the surgery, outweighing any risks that the particular surgery poses for you.  You will receive recommendations prior to surgery and how you respond and act with regards to those recommendations may also help to determine if you are a good candidate for the surgery.  You may be given dietary restrictions and modifications, and even be asked to begin an exercise program.  Your reticence to follow these recommendations may indicate your inability to engage with the lifestyle modification post surgery, making you a poor candidate for the surgery risks and post surgery diet and exercise commitments.  If you are a smoker, your surgeon may be unwilling to operate unless you quit.  Smokers have significantly higher risks of negative outcomes. 

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    In terms of the surgical options, some weight loss surgeries are done as open surgeries, with an incision made in your abdomen, while other weight loss surgeries can be done with a laparoscopic technique and much smaller abdominal "cuts," which may mean a shorter hospital stay.  In both cases you will probably be able to begin to eat small amounts of very specific liquids on the third or fourth day, followed by the introduction of small amounts of specific foods for about 12 weeks.  You will need to continue to eat very small meals, with a very slow pace, so as not to cause some of the unpleasant side effects mentioned in my earlier post.    Initials weight loss is typically profound and then weight loss will slow.  Adhering to the diet and maintaining daily exercise can ensure continued weight loss.


    The goal of weight loss surgery is to lose around 30- 50% of your weight, depending on your starting BMI.  End point weight loss typically occurs between 18 and 24 months post surgery.  Many patients who developed diabetes type 2 related to their excess weight, experience remission and better blood sugar response after the surgery, with even minimal weight loss.  The key to maintaining the weight loss is an ongoing determination to monitor dietary habits closely and to stay engaged with a fitness program.


    Will insurance cover my surgery?


    Each insurance plan has its own criteria and guidelines for determining possible payment by insurers for the procedure.  You need to check with your doctor to see if you are a good candidate for the surgery and then check with your insurance to see if your BMI and health status warrant coverage for the surgery, or if weight loss surgery is even an option on your particular policy.  Remember that a good support system involving health professionals and family members, friends or a group that specifically involves patients who have had this surgery can be invaluable to your long term success


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    Future blogs: Are you drinking the right milk?

                       Doctor's share their thoughts on shedding pounds

                       Why a walking program can be a huge step to better health

Published On: February 04, 2011