10 Questions to Ask Your Bariatric SurgeonFebruary 27, 2023
10 Questions to Ask Your Bariatric Surgeon: Congratulations on taking the first steps towards becoming a healthier you! It takes a lot of courage and strength to begin your weight loss journey and you should be proud that you have now scheduled an appointment with a bariatric surgeon. Like most people, you have turned to the internet to learn more; however, the information can be overwhelming. To reduce the anxiety associated with your first appointment, here are some questions you should ask during your consultation. Staying informed with your medical care can better prepare you and make for a more productive and less-intimidating appointment.
10 questions you should ask your bariatric surgeon during the consultation.
Am I a candidate for weight loss surgery?
You may be a candidate for weight loss surgery if you meet certain requirements based on your medical history and Body Mass Index (BMI). The BMI is the ratio of your weight to your height. It is used to predict how your weight will affect your health, both now and in the future. A BMI over 30 is considered obese and a BMI over 35 is considered severely obese. Recently, the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) has lowered the criteria to increase eligibility requirements for weight loss surgery. If you have tried to lose weight using traditional methods of diet and exercise and have failed, weight loss surgery may be an option for you.
How much weight will I lose with bariatric surgery? What determines how much weight I will lose?
Depending on the type of procedure you have done, you can expect to lose 60-90% of your excess body weight. There are several factors that contribute to how much weight loss is achieved. It is important to remember that weight loss surgery is a tool and when used in conjunction with a healthy diet and regular exercise, it is possible to lose all your excess weight. However, impaired weight loss or weight regain can occur if you rely solely on the surgery itself.
Will my insurance cover the procedure?
Insurance coverage for weight loss surgery varies with insurance policies. If you meet the criteria for weight loss surgery, then your insurance may cover most of the costs associated with surgery. The best way to find out what your insurance covers is to call the phone number located on the back of your insurance card. You can ask specific questions related to the coverage of both surgery and anesthesia services for weight loss procedures.
How is the surgery done?
More than 99% of weight loss surgery procedures are done via a minimally invasive approach. Depending on your surgeon and hospital, this can be done laparoscopically or robotically. Both require several small incisions on the abdomen that allow for the passage of instruments into the abdominal cavity to perform the procedure. You will be under general anesthesia and asleep for the length of the operation.
How long is the recovery?
In general, most patients spend one night in the hospital after their surgery and go home the following day. There are also ambulatory care centers that perform weight loss procedures in select patients on an outpatient basis. You will likely need 1-2 weeks off from work depending on your job. By the first post-operative appointment, most patients are fully recovered from pain and are back to living their normal daily lives except for restrictions on heavy lifting.
Is there anything I can’t eat after having bariatric surgery?
No! However, you must remember that surgery is just one component on the road to your goal weight. Following the lifestyle that we present to you during your weight loss journey will allow you to have small portions of any food while keeping your weight off. It is important to remember - it’s all in moderation!
How much protein and fluids should I get?
It is generally important to get 60-90 grams of protein per day. Some individuals may require even higher protein goals dependent on gender, height, muscle mass, and physical activity. You should also try to get 64 oz. of non-caloric non-carbonated fluid per day. Discuss your individual protein and fluid requirements with your surgeon.
What are the different types of bariatric surgery and which one is right for me?
There are two main categories of weight loss procedures: restrictive and malabsorptive. The sleeve gastrectomy and adjustable lap-band are both classified as restrictive, meaning the stomach is made smaller so you feel full faster. The sleeve gastrectomy also has the benefit of removing the portion of the stomach that makes ghrelin, also known as the hunger hormone. This results in an overall reduction of appetite. The other two procedures, the gastric bypass and the duodenal switch, incorporate both restriction and malabsorption. The stomach is made smaller to restrict the amount of food it takes to make you feel full. Additionally, a portion of the gastrointestinal tract is bypassed giving the food bolus less time and surface area to be absorbed. Based on your BMI and comorbidities, your surgeon will help you choose what procedure is right for you.
What type of follow-up care is required?
Ideally, you should have a lifelong relationship with your bariatric surgeon. It is extremely important to have regularly scheduled appointments during the first year after surgery, as this is when you will be losing the most weight. Continued follow-up is important to ensure you remain focused on healthy eating and a regular exercise routine.
When can I start exercising?
In the first month after surgery, you shouldn’t lift anything heavier than 10-15 lbs. Once cleared by your surgeon, it’s important to start incorporating exercise into your daily routine. You should aim for 30 minutes of exercise that gets your heart rate elevated and causes you to break a sweat.
It is important to remember that weight loss surgery is a tool. Having a conversation with your bariatric surgeon will ensure that you are educated on the procedures and understand the lifestyle changes that are needed to succeed with surgery. This is one of the best gifts you can give to yourself, and I wish you the best on your weight loss journey! Here’s to becoming a healthier you!
Dr. Marissa Novack is a board-certified general and bariatric surgeon at New York Bariatric Group.
ABOUT THE AUTHORDr. Marissa Novack is a board-certified general and bariatric surgeon at New York Bariatric Group. She is a graduate of Ross University School of Medicine and went on to complete her general surgery residency at Stamford Hospital. She finished her fellowship training in minimally invasive advanced GI and bariatric surgery at the University at Buffalo. Dr. Novack has extensive experience using laparoscopic and robotic platforms and offers patients a variety of bariatric, foregut, and general surgical procedures.