When it comes to making a life-changing decision such as undergoing bariatric surgery, you may feel overwhelmed with all of the information, requirements or next steps ahead of you. We want to help you be as informed as possible no matter where you are in this journey.

Here are some common questions we receive from patients who participate in our program:

How do I know if I am a candidate for surgery?

Candidates for surgery are those men and women who have tried unsuccessfully to lose weight with diet and exercise, are about 100 pounds overweight and have deteriorating health problems due to the excess weight. The National Institutes of Health states the criteria for surgical intervention is a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above. Individuals with a BMI between 35-40 with a pre-existing health condition such as diabetes or heart diseases are also eligible candidates.

Will my insurance cover my surgery?

Most insurance companies will cover weight-loss surgery, however, you must check with your company to determine if you have the benefit for obesity in your policy. Most insurance companies have specific guidelines and criteria for your surgery to be approved.

What is the difference between open surgery and laparoscopic surgery?

The open procedure requires one large incision on the abdomen. This technique allows the surgeon to perform the surgery without the use of video monitors.

The laparoscopic procedure, also known as minimally invasive surgery, allows the surgeon to operate through a number of small incisions rather than one large one. With the use of video monitors, the surgeon views the internal organs and performs the procedure. Your surgeon  will discuss which procedure is right for you.

How big will my stomach be after surgery?

The size of your stomach will vary depending on the surgeon. All surgeons use a tube to guide them when stapling the stomach. In general, approximately 85% of your stomach will be removed.

What are the potential risks of surgery?

As with any surgery, there are risks involved. These risks are relatively low in most patients. The surgeon will discuss the potential risks with you, and you will be educated in recognizing symptoms of these complications.

How long will I be in the hospital?

The average length of stay is one night. Allow two weeks for recovery before returning to work.

Why do I need to lose weight before surgery?

The purpose of preoperative weight loss is to help decrease your risk of blood clots and to shrink the size of your liver before surgery. Decreasing the size of your liver allows the surgeon to better see your internal organs during laparoscopic surgery. If your liver is too large, you may need to be converted to an open procedure or postpone the surgery.

Is it possible to regain weight?

Yes. It is very important that you follow your surgeon’s and dietitian’s recommendations and guidelines regarding food consumption.

Why should I follow a special diet?

It is important to follow this diet to prevent nutritional deficiencies and maximize weight loss in a healthy, appropriate way.

Why do I have to separate my liquids and solids?

For vertical sleeve surgeries, your pouch is too small to allow both liquids and solids. If you drink with your meals, you are at risk for nausea and vomiting because it fills up the pouch too fast. Also, if you drink with your meals or too soon after eating, you will flush the food from your pouch faster, which will cause you to be hungry sooner. This may cause excessive snacking and an intake of more calories.

Why do I have to drink so much clear liquid?

When losing weight, there is a heavy load of waste products to eliminate, mostly in the urine. These waste products can cause formation of kidney stones. Drinking water helps the body efficiently remove these waste products. Also, dehydration can rapidly occur if there is a lack of sufficient water consumption.

Why should I avoid carbonated beverages?

Carbonated beverages contain carbon dioxide. When carbon dioxide enters the pouch, it warms up releasing gases. This can cause discomfort and stretching.

Can I continue to drink carbonated beverages?

No. Caffeine can increase blood pressure and heart rate. It is also a stimulant and can increase hunger. Tannic acid found in coffee and tea increases your risk of developing ulcers.

Why can’t I use straws to drink after surgery?

Vertical sleeve gastrectomy and Roux-en-Y gastric bypass procedures leave you with a very small stomach, so you must limit your portion sizes. When you drink using a straw, you ingest the air before you ingest the liquid. And when you get air in your stomach, it’s like putting air into a balloon. Your stomach won’t stay collapsed and small. It will stretch.

Using a straw can create two other potential irritations after weight-loss surgery. It may cause a big air bubble to form that will prevent you from digesting your food or drink properly (and may even cause regurgitation or vomiting). Excess air intake also may make you feel bloated, miserable or uncomfortable. The safest approach for bariatric surgery patients is to limit the amount of air intake solely to what you get from swallowing.

Can I drink alcohol?

No. Alcoholic beverages should be avoided for the following reasons:

  • Alcohol is high in calories. Excess calories can easily be consumed when drinking them without thinking.
  • Many alcoholic beverages are carbonated and carbonation should be avoided.
  • Alcohol will be absorbed differently after surgery. You will feel the effects of the alcohol with less intake.

Can I smoke?

No. if you smoke, you are required to quit smoking at least four weeks before your surgery. Smoking increases your risk of pneumonia and other respiratory complications after surgery. Smoking also constricts the blood vessels, which can slow down the healing process.

Are there any medications that I need to avoid after surgery?

Yes. Any medication that can increase your risk of developing ulcers in your stomach should be avoided. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) should be avoided lifelong. You should also try to avoid large pills greater than 7mm or the size of an M&M®.

Will I need to take vitamins?

Yes. Our program recommends patients take a multivitamin, calcium with vitamin D and possible B12 after surgery.

Can I get pregnant immediately after surgery?

No. It is important to avoid getting pregnant in the first 12 months after surgery. Getting pregnant during this time of rapid weight loss can cause severe birth defects or miscarriage. Rapid weight loss can increase your fertility, so you need to use additional precautions in the first 18 months.