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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What is laparoscopic (minimally invasive surgery) surgery?

During the surgical procedure, small incisions of up to half an inch are made and plastic tubes called ports are placed through these incisions. The camera and the instruments are then introduced through the ports which allow the surgeon to view these images and perform the surgery.

What are the benefits of laparoscopic surgery?

  • Less discomfort after surgery since the incisions are much smaller
  • Much smaller scars
  • Shorter hospital stays
  • Quicker recovery time
  • Earlier return to full activities

How soon after weight loss surgery can I eat food?

The first two weeks after surgery you will be on a liquid diet along with protein shakes.  By the third week, your diet will be progressed to a “mushies” diet which is blended and soft foods such as meatloaf, fish, cream of wheat, tuna/egg salad and other soft foods.  After that week, if you are progressing well, you will return to regular foods.

Do I need to follow a liquid diet BEFORE surgery?

Yes, you will be on a clear liquid diet for 14 days prior to your surgery. During this time you can also have unlimited amounts of non-starchy vegetables such as salads, green beans, cabbage, carrots, eggplant, broccoli and cauliflower. Your liquids will include water, crystal light, soup broth and diet beverages. You will also be drinking protein shakes during this time. This period is designed to help clean out your colon and help to lose weight before surgery.

How much weight does the typical person lose one year after bypass?

Most people lose 80-150 or more pounds, depending on your weight you started with, during the 12 months after gastric bypass surgery.

How much weight does the typical person lose one year after gastric banding?

Most people with the gastric band lose between 40-80 pounds after surgery, if they don’t cheat between meals.

How much time do I need to take off work after weight loss surgery?

It depends on what you do for a living.  If you have a physically laborious occupation you may need 4-6 weeks. If less strenuous, you may only need 2-3 weeks.

Do I need to eat or drink anything special after weight loss surgery?

Yes, you will need to drink protein shakes for at least 3 weeks after surgery.  The shakes we recommend can be purchased at Walgreen’s, GNC, Vitamin Shoppe, Wal-Mart and Target or your food store.

Does diabetes go away after weight loss surgery?

After gastric bypass surgery, many people’s diabetes will go into remission. Diabetes is resolved for as many as 83% of patients. (1)

1) http://asmbs.org (2011)

When can I start exercising after weight loss surgery?

The day of surgery patients start walking.  During the first month after surgery, most patients are walking about 20-30 minutes daily.  About 4 weeks after surgery, many patients are able to exercise vigorously.  However, we do not recommend lifting more than 10 pounds in the first couple weeks after surgery.

I heard that some people regain some of their weight a couple of years after surgery?

After weight loss surgery some patients may regain some of the weight lost. Usually, this regain is due to no longer following the rules and starting again with eating junk foods and from lack of exercise.  Weight loss surgery is a tool, not a cure for obesity.  Sustained behavioral changes are necessary for life long weight loss.

How much will it cost me to have weight loss surgery?

Your out of pocket expense is determined by the type of insurance you have.  Please call your insurance plan and find out if weight loss surgery is a covered benefit for you and what your total out of pocket expense/deductibles will be.

What kind of specialists will I need to consult prior to approval for weight loss surgery?

You will need to have consultations with a pulmonologist, psychologist, gastroenterologist and possibly a cardiologist.  You will be responsible for scheduling these visits and paying needed co-pays.

How do I know if my insurance company will approve my surgery?

Insurance plans differ.  Please call your insurance plan to determine if weight loss surgery is a covered benefit for you.  Most insurance plans will cover weight loss surgery if your BMI is greater than 40 or if your BMI is 35 or greater with co-morbid health problems, such as hypertension, diabetes and /or sleep apnea.

Can the surgery be revised?

Typically, gastric bypass surgery is not revised but if needed it can be done.  Gastric bands can also be revised if there is a presenting problem with the band.

Do I need to lose weight before surgery?

Yes, you need to lose weight prior to weight loss surgery for insurance approval.  Our team will help you lose weight.

How long do I need to stay in the hospital?

Most patients stay one night in the hospital after gastric banding and gastric bypass surgery.

How do I schedule an appointment to see the surgeon?

Please call your insurance to find out if you have weight loss surgery benefits.  If you do, please call our office to schedule an appointment at (215)710-5711. If you need a referral, please bring it with you to your appointment.

Can I drink alcohol after surgery?

We recommend not drinking alcohol after gastric bypass or gastric banding surgery.  Alcohol has a lot of calories, can irritate the stomach and can deter the weight loss process.

What is dumping syndrome?

If one consumes too much sugar or fat after weight loss surgery then “dumping syndrome” can occur. Dumping syndrome results in dizziness, sweating, nausea, possible vomiting, diarrhea and/or feelings of fainting.  Dumping results from eating the “wrong” foods.  If you don’t eat the “wrong” foods, then you won’t have this!

How long does it take before I can get approved for weight loss surgery?

It typically takes about 6 months to get the necessary tests and visits for insurance approval.

How long do I have to take vitamins for?

You will ALWAYS need to take vitamins following gastric bypass surgery and gastric banding as your intake of food is restricted.  After gastric bypass, sleeve gastrecomy and gastric banding surgery you will ALWAYS need to take a multivitamin with iron, B12 and calcium supplements.

Are there foods that I won’t be able to eat after surgery?

Many people have problems with dry and stringy foods such as tough dry meats or celery.  However, everyone is different and many people don’t have a problem.

Will I need plastic surgery after I lose weight?

With proper diet, vitamins and exercise, most people will not have excessive skin issues that require plastic surgery.  Some individuals, who were extremely heavy prior to surgery, will have skin that will need to be removed due to medical issues.

Can I still get pregnant after weight loss surgery?

Typically, most women get MORE fertile after weight loss.  We recommend that effective birth control is used for 12 months after surgery.  Pregnancy during the 12 months after weight loss surgery can be dangerous for the mother and could result in greater incidence of birth defects for the baby.  Therefore, we recommend you wait 12 months after surgery before getting pregnant.

To schedule an appointment for a consultation with a bariatric surgeon at St. Mary Medical Center, call 215-710-5711.