Do I qualify for Bariatric Surgery?

Every case is different since our bodies and medical histories are different. There is no way to safely guarantee that you qualify for bariatric surgery without a proper exam from a bariatric surgeon. There are, however, guidelines and clues that can aid in determining whether you should seek an exam. They are as follows:

  • Established effort to lose weight with proper diet and exercise has been unsuccessful.
  • A Body Mass Index, (or BMI) of 40 or higher.
  • A BMI of 35 to 40 associated with a medical condition, or comorbidity such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or sleep apnea or a family history of obesity.

What is Laparoscopic Surgery?

Laparoscopic or “minimally invasive” surgery is a specialized technique for performing surgery. Rather than opening a large portion of the abdomen, a Laparoscopic surgeon makes several very small incisions in the abdominal wall, usually ½-1cm in length. Thin hollow tubes are then inserted into the incisions and carbon dioxide is used to expand the belly from the inside. A tiny camera is also inserted into one of the tubes and projects a picture of the inside of the abdomen to a television monitor. The surgeon uses that camera image to perform the surgery without needing to be physically inside the abdomen.

The smaller incisions means the procedure is less invasive to patients. It allows for a faster recovery, less scar tissue, less pain, quicker return to normal activities, fewer organ complications, and a better operative experience.

How does the Sleeve Gastrectomy work?

The sleeve gastrectomy involves removing about 80% of the stomach and reshaping the remaining 20% into something that looks like a shirt sleeve. What remains of the stomach is a narrow tube or sleeve, which connects to the intestines.

While most people look at the sleeve gastrectomy as a surgery that works primarily by reducing your ability to eat large portions, its primary effectiveness is through hormonal changes.  Those hormonal changes are the driving force of weight loss.

Because the stomach is removed completely, this surgery is irreversible. Many patients have downplayed the sleeve as a minor surgery, but the removal of 80% of your stomach should not be taken lightly. Even though a sleeve gastrectomy can be performed extremely safely with only a 1-2% serious complication rate, it is not a minor surgery.

How does the Gastric Bypass work?

The gastric bypass operation divides the stomach into two parts and reroutes the intestines from a straight line into a “Y” shape. Of the two upper limbs of the “Y,” one contains the food that you eat while the other houses the digestive enzymes.  

The first part of the stomach, (referred to as the pouch) is approximately the size of a thumb and connects to the top part of one limb of the “Y.”  The second part, (referred to as the gastric remnant) connects to the other limb of the “Y” and sits inside your abdomen continuing to make acid and digestive hormones. At the crotch of the “Y,” the two limbs come together and the food mixes with the enzymes.

This delay in mixing the food with enzymes changes the way food is broken down in your intestines and induces a very favorable change in your body’s hormonal state that triggers your brain into burning off your fat stores.

How does the Gastric Balloon work?

Gastric balloons are an alternative to bariatric surgery for people with a lower BMI. The gastric balloon is inserted endoscopically while the patient is under anesthesia. The balloon is then filled with saline to enlarge the balloon inside the stomach. It is kept in the stomach for 6 months and then removed endoscopically. On average, patients who receive the balloon procedure lose 20-50 pounds. 

What are the complications and complication rates associated with bariatric surgery?

Serious surgical complications is very uncommon and is only a major concern for patients who are at high risk for surgery due to advanced age, a heart condition, severe diabetes or limited mobility. The risk of serious complications runs between 1-3% for most patients. These complications are typically straightforward problems that can be very frightening, but is rarely life threatening. Complications can include:

  • Heartburn/ Gerd
  • Vomiting
  • Iron Deficiency
  • Bowel Obstruction/ Internal Hernia
  • Marginal Ulcers
  • Hair Loss
  • Taste Changes
  • Gallstones
  • Alcoholism

How long is the hospital stay?

The vast majority of patients undergoing bariatric surgery will spend one night in the hospital.

Is there pain after surgery?

Most patients undergoing bariatric surgery will experience minor pain but not enough to require them to take pain medication. Those who require medication say they use it for an average of 3-4 days.

How long before I can return to work after surgery?

Most patients feel ready to return to normal activities, including work, within one week.

How long is the process from my initial consultation to completed surgery?

Depending on insurance coverage, the process typically takes between 3-6 months.

How will my diet change after Bariatric Surgery?

Your diet will change before bariatric surgery and continue to change after the surgery. Before the surgery you will be required to participate in a pre-op diet that will help prepare your body and organs for surgery. Immediately after surgery you will be placed on a liquid diet. That is followed by soft foods and eventually you will transition to regular whole foods again.

Do you offer nutritional counseling?

Definitely! We consider nutrition to be one of the most important components of weight loss success.

Do you accept patients who have had surgery elsewhere?

Absolutely! Whether you are interested in revision or our non-surgical weight loss program, we welcome you.

Can I get pregnant following Bariatric Surgery?

Yes! In fact, your fertility can increase due to the weight loss after surgery.

Do I need to take vitamins following Bariatric Surgery?

Yes! Which vitamins you take and for how long you take them is determined by the surgery you elect to have and your nutritional progress after surgery. At Tucson Weight Loss Surgery, we recommend Bariatric Advantage to our patients. Shop Now

Do you offer any other surgeries?

Yes! In addition to the sleeve gastrectomy, gastric bypass, and gastric balloon, our practice also offers the following surgeries:

  • Gallbladder
  • Hernia (ventral, inguinal, hiatal, and umbilical) 
  • Nissen Fundoplication