10 Questions About Weight-Loss Surgery

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Here are 10 common questions that HealthCentral visitors have asked about weight-loss surgery, and my answers to those questions.

How to qualify

Q: What is the age limit for the gastric bypass?

A: A team of health professionals - usually including a doctor, dietitian, psychologist and surgeon - will evaluate whether gastric bypass surgery is appropriate for you. Although there's no specific age limit for gastric bypass surgery, the risks increase if you're over age 65. The surgery remains controversial in people under age 18.

Choosing the right surgery

Q: Which obesity surgery procedure should I have?

A: There are several options for obesity surgery. Finding the right one for you is a combination of personal preference and specific health factors, as well as the opinion of your surgeon. Surgeries to research include gastric bypass, gastric sleeve, and gastric banding. I suggest you begin with this article: Is Weight-Loss Surgery Right for Me?

Surgery mortality

Q: Can you die having a gastric bypass surgery?

A: Gastric bypass is a major surgery. For many people, it is a life saver. But it is not without risk and even the possibility of death. A study by the University of Washington found if a patient survived more than a year after the surgery, the benefits to her/his long-term health far outweigh the risks of the procedure.

Finding a bariatric surgeon

**Q: How do I find a physician to do my weight-loss surgery? **

A: The American Society for Bariatric Surgery (ASBS) has a searchable online database to help patients find quality doctors and hospitals. These surgeons and hospitals must meet certain criteria and stringent guidelines setup by the ASBS to be labeled "a Center of Excellence" and be on this list. Visit the ASBS website at http://asmbs.org/.

Free surgery

Q: Are there any doctors who will perform gastric bypass surgery for reduced or no fee?

A: The Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of American offers full and partial grants every year and they are now accepting applications. Learn all about it in my sharepost: Apply for WLSFA Weight Loss Surgery Grant.

Medicare coverage

Q: Does Medicare cover gastric bypass surgery?

A: Medicare qualified patients are Medicare beneficiaries who have a BMI greater than 35, have at least one co-morbidity related to obesity, have been unsuccessful in other weight-loss treatments, and surgery is considered a medical necessity. Approval for weight loss surgery is reviewed on a patient by patient basis.

Craving junk food

Q: I had weight loss surgery a while ago. Sometimes I get cravings for junk food. What should I do?

A: Find a makeover recipe for the food craving that is bariatric-friendly. I often post recipes on HealthCentral or recommendations for blogs or cook books for grain-free cooking. Just use the search tool at the top right of the page and search on the term "bariatric recipe."

Weight regain

Q: Can I have my gastric bypass surgery redone? I regained all of my weight.

A: There are five options for revision surgery: band over bypass (LAP-BAND or Realize Band), conversion to distal gastric bypass (if your previous surgery was proximal gastric bypass), conversion to duodenal switch, stoma plication (StomaphyX and ROSE procedures), and sclerotherapy. Learn more in Desperate to Lose Weight.

Online support groups

Q: Are there online support groups for people who are having/have had gastric-bypass surgery?

A: ObesityHelp.com is one of the most widely used online support groups for weight-loss surgery patients. The community is very active, and there are dedicated groups for each of the weight-loss surgery procedures. You can learn more by visiting www.obesityhelp.com.

Insurance denial

**Q: I have been denied surgery by my insurance. What can I do? **

A: If you are denied, you have the right to appeal. First, get the reason for your denial in writing. Your insurance company will have appeal guidelines. Contact them for the information and follow the protocol. Learn more: Writing an Appeal Letter.