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Inside Bariatric Surgery: Answers to Your Questions

If you’re considering bariatric surgery, you probably have a lot of questions. Since weight loss surgery is typically considered a major procedure, it’s important to get the answers you need to make an informed decision. All risks, potential side effects, and lifestyle issues should be given careful consideration. Knowing what to expect can also help improve your own success after the procedure.

Is Bariatric Surgery Right for Me?

If you are someone who has tried multiple diets and who has tried to lose weight over and over and over again without success, it is something you should take into consideration as an option.

How Do I Know if I Am Eligible?

Requirements or qualifications needed to be eligible for bariatric surgery are determined by your bariatric surgery program in combination with your specific insurance company. What type of surgery is best for you is determined in your initial evaluation with your surgeon and/or bariatric nurse practitioner.

Insurance companies have different requirements, but most offer the benefit if you have BMI of 40 or greater, or a BMI of 35-40 with at least one or two obesity-related comorbidities. Check your insurance benefits first. Ask if you have the "bariatric surgery benefit" or the benefit for "surgical treatment of morbid obesity."

What is the Surgery and Recovery Like?

The actual surgery usually takes one hour for the gastric sleeve surgery and about two hours for the gastric bypass surgery. This varies with many factors, such as history of abdominal surgeries.

Your hospital stay after bariatric surgery is typically one to two nights, depending on your procedure and individual recovery. How much pain you experience depends on your own pain tolerance. Multimodal pain management is offered, which means different types of medications are used to decrease pain in different ways. Everything possible is done to treat pain after surgery.

You should begin walking while still in the hospital, unless instructed otherwise. As you heal, you will begin to increase your exercise time and intensity. Your surgeon will release you to increase your activity based on your progress. You can typically go back to work two weeks after surgery.

After surgery, exercises such as weights, sit-ups, pull-ups, or any abdominal straining should wait until you get the go-ahead from your doctor.

Will I Have to Diet After the Surgery For the Rest of My Life?

Diet? Definitely not!  But you will be expected to make permanent lifestyle changes in your dietary intake and physical activity regimen.  These expected lifestyle changes will prevent acute and chronic post-operative bariatric surgery complications and re-hospitalizations.

You will also need to take a bariatric specific vitamin the rest of your life to prevent acute and chronic vitamin deficiencies. It’s important to know that some hair loss is common between three and six months following surgery but it is almost always temporary. Even if you take all recommended supplements, hair loss will be noticed until the follicles come back. Adequate intake of protein, vitamins and minerals will help to ensure hair re-growth, and avoid longer term thinning.

Are There Certain Foods That I Can’t Eat Ever Again?

Everyone has choices and there is no set list of foods that can’t ever be eaten again. It is essential for long-term safety that every post-op patient know they should eat at least 60-90 grams of protein daily and eat foods in this order:

  1. Protein
  2. Vegetables
  3. Fruits

It’s important to know that not everyone will tolerate all foods the same as they did pre-operatively. That said, each individual going through this process has choices. We tell patients "you do what you need to do to be where you want to be.”

What Will My New Weight Be?

That’s a great question. Weight loss is not necessarily the goal. Body fat loss is the goal!  Our program focuses on body composition for overall health.  Each individual going through the program has the opportunity to have their body composition analyzed by our "InBody" machine.  This will calculate the amount of body fat that is realistic and attainable if a patient chooses the lifestyle interventions to meet their specific goal. You do not necessarily need to have plastic surgery after significant weight loss. This decision is based on patient preference and/or potential skin rash complications.

Learn more about CHI Health's Bariatric Surgery Program, request more information or check FAQs.

Cora Villagomez, APRN, FNP-C
Cora Villagomez, APRN, FNP-C

Cora Villagomez, APRN, FNP-C is a Nurse Practitioner Coordinator at CHI Health.

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