Q: Why should someone consider bariatric surgery?
A: Current research suggests that one in three Americans is obese. In this country alone, about 300,000 deaths per year can be linked to obesity. Obesity is associated with serious health conditions, including high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep apnea (serious sleep disorder), heartburn or reflux, cerebral artery disease (stroke), diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes), asthma, osteoarthritis, infertility, and cancer of the breast, colon, prostate and uterus. Usually within the first six months after weight-loss surgery, patients will no longer need to take medications for these conditions.
Q: Who is eligible for weight-loss surgery?
A: A person may be a candidate for bariatric surgery if he or she is at least 100 pounds overweight and traditional weight-loss methods have failed.
Q: What is involved in a Roux-en-Y gastric bypass procedure?
A: Roux-en-Y gastric bypass is the most commonly performed bariatric procedure. This method makes the stomach smaller and alters digestion. It is referred to as a combined restrictive and malabsorptive procedure because less food can be eaten and fewer calories can be absorbed.
Q: What is the recovery time following Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery?
A: Most patients recover from surgery without complications. Patients are encouraged to get out of bed and start walking by the next day. The hospital stay for patients who undergo the Roux-en-Y procedure is usually two to four days. Most individuals return to work in two to three weeks.
Q. When is bariatric surgery considered successful?
A. Weight-loss surgery is considered successful when a person loses 50 percent of his or her excess weight. Although few people lose all of their excess weight, they do gain numerous health benefits, which may be lifesaving. Itís important to remember that there are no guarantees with any method of weight loss, even surgery. Success hinges on your ability to become part of the plan to support the surgical tool you've chosen and make lifestyle changes with exercise and dietary adjustments.
Q. Are there activity restrictions following bariatric surgery?
A. Yes, strenuous activity should be avoided until you are healed. Walking, however, is a required activity at this stage of recovery. You are advised not to drive if you are taking pain medication other than Tylenol. At your first follow-up visit, your doctor will determine when you can return to work, but most people return to work three to six weeks after surgery.
Q. Do insurance companies cover bariatric surgery procedures?
A. Many insurance companies now recognize obesity as a substantial health risk and are paying for bariatric surgery.
Q: What are the dietary restrictions following weight loss surgery?
A: Following surgery, you will need to follow specific eating guidelines. Registered dietitians work directly with bariatric surgery patients to provide dietary education before and after surgery.
Q. What about exercise after surgery?
A. Light exercise, such as walking, should begin immediately after surgery. Vigorous exercise will be gradually introduced in six to eight weeks. Exercise will not only keep you feeling well and energized, but it also helps burn fat and calories. For many people, returning to physical exercise is an important step toward feeling better.
Q: How long will it take to lose excess weight after weight-loss surgery?
A: Excess weight loss begins right after surgery and continues for 18-24 months after surgery.
Q: Is it possible to gain the weight back after bariatric surgery?
A: Bariatric surgery has an excellent long-term track record for helping morbidly obese individuals maintain weight loss. If you are committed to making permanent dietary and lifestyle changes, your chance of weight re-gain is minimized.
Q: What are the risks of bariatric surgery?
A: All surgical procedures have risks, particularly when the patient is morbidly obese. Depending upon your individual circumstances, your risks may be higher or lower than average. Itís also important to know that surgeons with more experience performing bariatric surgery techniques have fewer complications. Potential risks of surgery should be discussed with your surgeon so you can make an informed choice.
Q. Can Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery be reversed?
A. Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery is considered a permanent weight-loss measure. However, it is potentially reversible. Reversal requires another operation of the same, or greater, magnitude with the same, or greater, risks. Reversal of this operation is very uncommon and rarely occurs beyond six weeks from the time of surgery.
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This has been provided courtesy of the Cleveland Clinic Bariatric and Metabolic Institute. Please visit the Cleveland Clinic Bariatric and Metabolic Institute.