Bariatric Surgery Considerations
Here are a few important things to consider when deciding if weight loss surgery is right for you.
Are you considering surgery for the right reasons?
Bariatric surgery is NOT done to help you look better. It is always done to improve failing health. Feeling better is the goal; looking better is a “side effect”. Also note that losing a large amount of weight often leads to excess skin.
Can you comply with the follow-up required after surgery?
You must follow your surgeon's directions, especially regarding diet, exercise, labs and office follow up. The surgery is just a tool. Results are only as good as your use of this tool. Surgery alone will not take care of your weight or health issues. You are making a life-long commitment to follow the guidelines regarding diet, exercise and follow-up.
After surgery your stomach can only hold two tablespoons to three ounces of food/liquid. The post-surgery diet is very restrictive, starting at only 500 to 600 calories a day. The diet is very low in fat, low in sugar, and high in lean protein. You must stick with a strict diet and exercise plan. We require follow-up visits at one week, six weeks, three months, six months, nine months, one year, and 18 months after your surgery. Then, you will be required to complete follow-ups every year – for life.
Can you afford the out-of-pocket costs?
Each patient is required to undergo several pre-operative consultations and evaluations. An out-of-pocket charge will be necessary if your insurance company does not cover one or more of the required pre-operative consultations or if they do not cover our required providers for these evaluations. Don’t forget to consider that even if your insurance covers the surgery, you should check into what your co-pays and deductible will be both for the inpatient hospital stay as well as follow-up visits.
If your insurance policy includes a specific exclusion for the surgical treatment of obesity, you will not be covered for surgery no matter your current health issues. Should you decide that you would like to pay for the surgery yourself, you would be required to make payment up front.
Most insurance companies do not pay for protein and vitamin supplements. The expense of the foods on the diet and the supplements are absolutely something to consider. You will want to purchase several types or flavors of protein supplements to provide some variety in your diet. The vitamin supplements are a life-long requirement in order to prevent vitamin deficiencies.
Do you have the emotional support you need?
It is crucial that you have a strong support network of family and friends that will be there to help you through the decision-making process, especially as you recover after surgery. We suggest that not only the patient, but also their close friends and family become educated about the risks and benefits of weight loss surgery.
Surgery is a stressful experience. This is a major life change. Should you currently have any other significant stressors, for example a pending divorce or a death of a loved one, you may want to wait until you feel you are on more solid ground before proceeding with surgery. It is important for patients to maintain realistic expectations before and after surgery.
If you’re thinking about gastric banding surgery in the near future, start looking at your insurance benefits today. Some insurance plans cover all, or part of, the cost.