Bariatric FAQs

Who qualifies for bariatric surgery?

A key indicator of necessary treatment is the patient’s body mass index (BMI). We also consider the patient’s overall health, lifestyle and personal preferences. Typically, patients with a BMI of 35 or less are considered candidates for non-surgical medical treatment. Patients with a BMI of 36 or greater who have significant associated health conditions, or patients with a BMI of 40 or higher, are generally candidates for surgery.

Will my insurance cover bariatric surgery?

Because morbid obesity is considered a medical condition, insurance will cover most surgeries if a legitimate medical reason to perform the surgery is given with reasonable expectations that the patient's health will improve with weight loss. Because each insurance provider supplies a range of policies, it is necessary for each person to obtain the insurance information pertinent to his or her own policy. With a small amount of information from you, St.Vincent can contact your insurance company to obtain the specifics on your policy.

How does St.Vincent help prepare patients for the surgery?

Before the surgery, patients attend an educational class that covers detailed information on what will happen during their hospital stay and how to make crucial lifestyle and dietary changes following the surgery.

Does St.Vincent provide support to patients after the surgery is over?

Continued consultations with our registered dietitians are available indefinitely at no additional charge to St.Vincent bariatric patients. In addition to these consultations, a special support group is conducted monthly by our dietitians, focusing specifically on dietary issues. Patients also have the option of scheduling one-on-one appointments.

What dietary and lifestyle changes are recommended to bariatric patients after surgery?

Here are a few of the tips we generally give our patients:

  • Plan your meals ahead of time
  • Eat slowly
  • Chew your food very thoroughly
  • Take small bites
  • Avoid any other activity while eating, such as watching TV, driving, talking on the telephone, or reading the newspaper
  • Keep a food journal of what you eat and drink
  • Walk some every day
  • Stop smoking

Will I be able to stop worrying about weight problems after the surgery?

Surgery will not cure obesity, but it will provide the tools necessary to manage it. If you succeed in doing so, it should improve your health and possibly eliminate life-threatening medical problems.

Will I be able to eat whatever I want after surgery?

You will be limited in your food choices during the initial healing time after your surgery – usually about six weeks.

  • A few days after surgery, you will be able to eat blended foods
  • You will then be gradually guided back into eating a wide variety of healthy low-fat/low-calorie foods
  • You will even be able to have such things as cake on your birthday – you just won't be able to make every day your birthday

Is it true that the body won't tolerate certain foods afterward?

Once you begin eating a wide range of foods again, you may experience some new food intolerances. These experiences vary among individuals.

You may be intolerant to such foods as:

  • Red meats
  • Nuts
  • Bread products
  • Concentrated sweets

How much weight can I expect to lose?

To reach the optimum weight loss, you must reduce your caloric intake. By the end of the first year following surgery, you will be eating approximately the same amount of food normally prepared for a child's plate.

With the help of our dietitians, you will:

  • Learn your own requirements for weight maintenance
  • Understand the importance of exercise and food intake
  • Be able to manage your weight accordingly

Will eating less food as a result of surgery have any negative effects on my health?

The reduction in the amount of food you consume will require the addition of vitamin and mineral supplements for you to remain healthy for the rest of your life.

  • You will be asked to take a multi-vitamin daily, and possibly a calcium or B12 replacement
  • To promote healing after the surgery, you will be placed on a high-protein diet
  • Patients normally continue with a high-protein diet for the rest of their lives

Why consider weight reduction surgery if there are risks involved?

Being severely obese greatly increases risk of death from a number other causes. Many people develop severe physical problems due to obesity that become unmanageable towards the end of their 30s. Bariatric surgery, however, can provide patients with the long-term health benefits and quality of life improvement that justify the surgery.

How long is the surgery and hospital stay?

The length of time will vary. The surgical procedure used, along with your physical condition, will determine how long the process will last.

  • The average procedure length is 50 to 180 minutes
  • While all individuals have different healing speeds and medical conditions, the average hospital stay is three to five days
  • The laparoscopic procedure is typically a shorter process, having an expected hospital stay of one to three days
  • The average Laparoscopic Band patient stays only one day

When will I be able to go back to work?

Many people return to work within four weeks after surgery. Some patients may have to wait longer due to other health concerns, or if their work requires heavy lifting.

Will I have to come back in for surgery again after I lose the weight to have the surgery reversed?

No, normally patients do not need another surgery. Your body will naturally adjust to the changed lifestyle and eating habits. The surgery is intended to be permanent.

Will the surgery affect my ability to have children?

Bariatric surgery results in weight loss that frequently helps patients in becoming pregnant. In fact, many patients who have previously been told that they were unable have children successfully deliver a healthy child after bariatric surgery.

  • It is recommended to wait at least one year after your surgery before attempting to become pregnant
  • If you do become pregnant, you need to be aware that you will have special dietary needs, which you will need to discuss with your obstetrician and dietitian

Will I have to have cosmetic surgery afterward?

Most patients do not choose to have cosmetic surgery. Insurance companies rarely pay for cosmetic surgery unless it is medically required.

  • Patients are encouraged to exercise and maintain a healthy diet to minimize the need for cosmetic surgery
  • However, if you should choose this type of surgery, we can help refer you to a skilled plastic surgeon who can further assist you