Frequently Asked Questions
Am I a candidate for bariatric surgery?
There are several different types of bariatric weight loss surgery, often with different eligibility requirements. Your Palm Beach Health Network Physician Group doctor will work with you to decide which surgery meets your needs.
For the most part, people who are 100 or more pounds overweight or have a (body mass index) BMI of 35 to 40 or greater, or those with a serious weight-related health issue like diabetes or cardiovascular disease are eligible for one of the weight loss surgeries offered. Gastric banding has recently been approved for those with a BMI of 30 under special circumstances.
Another important part of eligibility is the commitment to follow careful post-operative instructions on how to eat with this new stomach.
Some other health risks may prevent a candidate from being eligible for gastric bypass.
How will I pay for the procedure?
During your consultation with Palm Beach Health Network Physician Group, you will receive a summary of estimated costs. Most insurance plans do not cover weight loss surgery, but payment plans are available. Medicare and Medicaid may cover part of the surgery.
What are the benefits of surgery?
As with any surgery, complications can arise. Your morbid obesity may contribute to the risks. Possible, yet rare, complications can include:
- Pulmonary embolism
- Gastrointestinal leak (associated with gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy)
- Band slippage (for gastric bypass)
There are also risks associated with any surgery, like reactions to anesthesia. The team at Palm Beach Health Network Physician Group will explain all the risks during your consultation.
Is there anything that can be done to decrease the risks?
At Palm Beach Health Network Physician Groups, we believe it’s important that you are as healthy as possible prior to bariatric surgery. Please discuss your plans for bariatric surgery with your primary care physician to determine if you are medically stable. Having optimal control of conditions such as diabetes and hypertension may decrease your risk.
You will be asked to begin a diet prior to surgery. One of our team members will discuss the length and type of diet with you. The rationale for this diet is to shrink the liver that lies in close proximity to the stomach. The liver stores fat so pre-operative weight loss and shrinkage of the liver may make it easier for the surgeon to perform the surgery.
Surgery performed by an experienced bariatric surgeon in a facility that specializes in the care of the bariatric surgery patient may decrease your risks. At Palm Beach Health Network Physician Groups, our team of medical specialists has performed hundreds of bariatric surgical procedures. Plus, our nurses, medical consultants and ancillary staff are ready to care for you before, during and after your hospital stay.
How long will I be in the hospital?
Generally, patients who have the laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding will spend the night in the hospital and be discharged the next day. Patients who have gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy will generally spend two nights in the hospital.
How soon will I be able to return to work?
Most patients who have the laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding can return to work after one week. For patients who have gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy, the average return to work is two weeks. Time off of work may vary depending on the type of work you do. Your bariatric surgeon will discuss your individual situation with you.
Will I need to take vitamin supplements after surgery?
At Palm Beach Health Network Physician Groups, we recommend a multivitamin for all patients who have had bariatric surgery. Additional supplements, including Vitamin B12, calcium, iron and thiamine, may be necessary depending on the surgical procedure. Your bariatric surgeon and the dietitian will discuss this with you prior to surgery.
What about follow-up?
Your surgeon will see you back approximately one week after surgery. For patients who have had gastric banding, your first adjustment will generally be four to six weeks after surgery. You will need to be seen frequently to determine the need for further adjustments. Patients who have gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy are generally seen at one week, one month, three months, six months and one year post-operatively and then annually.
At Palm Beach Health Network Physician Groups, we believe that it’s imperative that you continue to follow-up with your bariatric surgeon and/or the support staff including the nurses and dietitian. Bariatric surgery requires a long-term commitment between the patient, the surgeon and the program!
How much weight will I lose?
Weight loss will vary from patient to patient. There are a number of factors that can influence your weight loss including age, pre-operative weight, gender, and compliance with follow-up, dietary guidelines and lifestyle changes including exercise.
Generally, patients who have laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding will lose about 50 percent of their excess body weight. The majority of the weight is lost in the first year but continues over a period of two to three years. At Palm Beach Health Network Physician Groups, we require our patients to have regularly scheduled follow-ups with the surgeon for adjustments in order to achieve maximum success.
Patients who have gastric bypass average a weight loss of 60 percent to 80 percent of excess body weight. Most patients will lose most of their weight in the first year. Some patients may experience about a 20 percent weight regain but will generally maintain a 60 percent to 70 percent loss of excess body weight.
Sleeve gastrectomy patients average 50 percent to 60 percent of excess body weight lost. As with gastric bypass, most of the weight is lost within the first year. Because we do not yet have long-term data on the sleeve gastrectomy, weight regain may be a possibility and a conversion to another bariatric procedure may be necessary.
Please keep in mind that bariatric surgery is only a tool. Patients must learn to utilize that tool effectively. The bariatric team at Palm Beach Health Network Physician Groups is here to help you by providing ongoing educational classes with our registered dietitian and support groups to assist you with making the necessary lifestyle changes.
What life changes will I need to make?
After gastric bypass surgery, you must make significant lifestyle changes for the surgery to have the greatest effect. Most patients find these changes fairly easy. They include:
- Eating smaller meals
- Eating more slowly
- Eating highly nutritious food
- Exercising regularly
Making these changes after having weight loss surgery has been shown to cause dramatic weight loss. Research confirms that having bariatric surgery and committing to this new way of eating can resolve type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, sleep apnea and GERD.
Will I need plastic surgery because of excess skin?
Significant weight loss may lead to excessive skin in areas such as the neck, abdomen, arms and thighs. For some patients the excessive skin may cause problems with skin irritation and rashes. For others it may be bothersome from a cosmetic perspective. One of the plastic surgeons at Palm Beach Health Network Physician Groups will be able to determine the type of procedure that is needed and if there is medical necessity. It is recommended that you wait until you have lost most of your weight before considering plastic surgery.
What about pregnancy after bariatric surgery?
Morbidly obese women may often have problems with fertility and the ability to become pregnant. Obesity may also increase the risk of complications during pregnancy. At Palm Beach Health Network Physician Groups, we advise against pregnancy during the first year when the most rapid weight loss is occurring as it may deprive the fetus of essential nutrients that it needs to grow. Because weight loss may improve fertility, it is imperative that a reliable form of birth control be used following surgery. Women who are contemplating bariatric surgery and future pregnancy should discuss this with their obstetrician/gynecologist.
Do I need a referral from my physician?
Many patients feel comfortable talking first to their primary care physician about surgical weight loss options. Palm Beach Health Network Physician Group works closely with you and your primary care office to select a weight loss surgery that is right for you.
If your insurance covers part or all of the surgery, your insurer may require a referral, approval, or other specific process. Be sure to call your insurer or your human resources contact at your employer for more information.
You can also make an appointment directly with us by calling 1.866.654.2362.
How do I learn more about what procedure is right for me?
You can learn more about the bariatric procedures Palm Beach Health Network Physician Groups offers by clicking on the following links. As always, your physician will guide you in determining the procedure that’s right for you.
- Gastric Bypass
- Gastric Sleeve (vertical sleeve gastrectomy)
- Gastric Banding
- Intragastric Balloon
How do I schedule an appointment?
You can make an appointment directly with us by calling 1.866.654.2362. Or, tell your primary doctor you would like to have a referral to a bariatric surgeon at Palm Beach Health Network Physician Group.