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Frequently Asked Questions

    The National Institutes of Health have studied morbid obesity and determined that bariatric surgery is considered medically necessary in patients who have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 kg/m2. This is the equivalent of being about 100 pounds above your ideal body weight.  Patients are also considered a candidate if they  have a BMI between 35 and 40 kg/m2 if they suffer from a serious medical condition such as Type 2 diabetes, hypertension or sleep apnea. 

    If you are considering bariatric surgery you should also be aware of and willing to make the necessary lifestyle changes. 

    At this time patients with a BMI of less than 35 kg/m2 are generally not considered candidates for bariatric surgery. There is ongoing research looking at offering bariatric surgery to patients with a BMI of between 35 and 40 kg/m2. 

    There may be certain medical conditions that may prevent you from having bariatric surgery. Our surgeons evaluate each patient to determine if bariatric surgery is an option.

    Bariatric surgery serves as a tool to assist you in weight loss. Many of the benefits of bariatric surgery are related to improvement in other medical conditions as a result of the weight loss. Conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, and high cholesterol may be resolved or improved after surgery.

    Our patients also describe to us an improved quality of life and the ability to participate in activities that were too difficult prior to their weight loss.

    There are risks and potential complications, including death, associated with all surgical procedures. Morbid obesity may increase your surgical risks. It is important that your surgeon have as much information as possible about your medical and surgical history so that he can discuss your risks, benefits and alternative treatments with you, and thus allow you to make an informed decision about bariatric surgery.

    Risks include but are not limited to bleeding, infection, blood clots in the legs or lungs (for gastric bypass), band slippage (for adjustable gastric banding), and injury to surrounding organs.

    The surgeon will discuss the benefits and risks of surgery at the educational seminars and again at your office consultation.

    It is important that you are as healthy as possible prior to surgery. Please discuss your plans for bariatric surgery with your primary care physician to determine if you are medically stable. Having optimal control of conditions such as diabetes and hypertension may decrease your risk.

    You will be asked to begin a diet prior to surgery. Your surgeon and our registered dietitian will discuss the length and type of diet with you. The rationale for this diet is to shrink the liver, which lies in close proximity to the stomach. The liver stores fat so pre-operative weight loss and shrinkage of the liver may make it easier for the surgeon to perform the surgery.

    Stop smoking! Cigarette smoking or other tobacco usage increases your immediate post-operative risks for blood clots, bleeding, poor healing, and respiratory complications. It can also increase your long–term risk for ulcers.

    Begin an exercise program prior to surgery. Exercise may improve your cardiopulmonary status. Be sure to discuss an exercise program with your doctor before you begin to determine if the program is appropriate for your medical situation.

    Surgery done by an experienced bariatric surgeon in a facility that is experienced in the care of the bariatric surgery patient may decrease your risks. Our team of surgeons have done hundreds of bariatric surgical procedures. Hahnemann University Hospital has an experienced team of nurses, medical consultants and ancillary staff to care for you before, during and after your hospital stay.

    Many insurance plans do cover bariatric surgery. We will verify your specific benefits.

    If it is determined that you do have benefits, we still must generally submit a pre-determination letter and documentation to prove medical necessity. Once we submit the letter it may take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to receive a response.

    Generally, patients who have the laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding will spend the night in the hospital and be discharged the next day. Patients who have the Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass will generally spend two nights in the hospital.

    Most patients who have the Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Banding can return to work after 1 week. For patients who have the Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass, the average return to work is 2 weeks. Time off from work may vary depending on the type of work you do. Your bariatric surgeon will discuss your individual situation with you.

    A multivitamin is recommended for all patients who have had bariatric surgery. Additional supplementation of Vitamins B-12, D-3, calcium, and iron may be necessary depending on the surgical procedure. Your surgeon and the dietitian will discuss this with you prior to surgery.

    Your surgeon will see you back approximately 2 weeks after surgery. For patients who have had LAGB, your first adjustment will generally be 4-6 weeks after surgery. You will need to be seen frequently to determine the need for further adjustments.

    Patients who have the Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass are usually seen 2 weeks, 4 weeks, 8 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, and one-year post-operatively, and then annually.

    It is imperative that you continue to follow-up with your bariatric surgeon and/or the support staff including the nurses and dietitian. Bariatric surgery requires a long-term commitment between the patient, the surgeon and the program!

    Weight loss will vary from patient to patient. There are a number of factors that can influence your weight loss including age, pre-operative weight, gender, and compliance with follow-up, dietary guidelines and lifestyle changes (such as exercise).

    Generally, patients who have laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding will lose about 50% of their excess body weight. The majority of the weight is lost in the first year but continues over a period of 2-3 years. Patients must have regularly scheduled follow-up with the surgeon for adjustments in order to achieve maximum success.

    Patients who have the Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass average a weight loss of 60- 80% of excess body weight. Most patients will lose most of their weight in the first year. Some patients may experience about a 20% weight regain but will generally maintain a 60-70% loss of excess body weight.

    Please keep in mind that bariatric surgery is only a tool. Patients must learn to utilize that tool effectively. We are here to help you by providing ongoing educational classes with our registered dietitian and support groups to assist you with making the necessary lifestyle changes.

    Significant weight loss may lead to excessive skin in areas such as the neck, abdomen, arms, and thighs. For some patients the excessive skin may cause problems with skin irritation and rashes. For others it may be bothersome from a cosmetic perspective. A plastic surgeon will be able to determine the type of procedure that is needed and if there is medical necessity. It is recommended that you wait until you have lost most of your weight before considering plastic surgery.

    Morbidly obese women may often have problems with fertility and the ability to become pregnant. Obesity may also increase the risk of complications during pregnancy.

    Pregnancy is not advised during the first 2 years when the most rapid weight loss is occurring as it may deprive the fetus of essential nutrients that it needs to grow. Because weight loss may improve fertility, it is imperative that a reliable form of birth control be used following surgery. Women who are contemplating bariatric surgery and future pregnancy should discuss this with their obstetrician/gynecologist.

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