Key Questions to Ask If You Are Considering Weight-loss Surgery
Weight-loss surgery is not only about having a procedure, it’s also about making lifestyle changes to lose weight and maintain your weight loss for the rest of your life, so this is a decision to take very seriously.
The goal of having this surgery is to achieve your desired weight loss, improve your health, and, most important, maintain the weight loss. This is not just for quick weight loss, although that will happen.
To achieve and maintain these goals, you must learn what and how to eat a proper diet, find time for a regular exercise regimen, and, lastly, you must make these commitments for the rest of your life.
It won’t be easy, but the rewards will make your hard work worthwhile. Here are some questions to consider when deciding if weight-loss surgery is right for you.
1. Am I a candidate?
First, consider whether you’ve really tried to lose weight the old-fashioned way with a healthy diet and regular exercise.
The qualifications for bariatric surgery are based on your body mass index (BMI). If you don’t know what your BMI is, you can find out with a BMI calculator. (They’re easy to find online.) If your BMI is greater than 40, you qualify on that alone. If your BMI is between 35 and 40, you may only qualify if you have medical problems associated with obesity. Common conditions are: high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, arthritis, and some forms of cancer. There are many more conditions, so it’s best to ask your physician.
2. Which surgery is best for me?
Deciding which surgery to have is up to you. Your surgeon will provide you with extensive information about the different procedures, but it’s up to you to pick the one you feel most comfortable with.
The most common procedures are the sleeve gastrectomy and gastric bypass. Both have been proven to result in weight loss that can be maintained. Again, your surgeon will discuss the fine points.
3. What are the risks with weight-loss surgery?
Your surgeon will go into detail about the risks, but know that the risk for a major complication is about 3 percent or less. These complications, which are the same for most major surgeries on the abdomen, include bleeding, infection, blood clots in the legs or lungs, leakage from stomach or bowel, heart attack, and death. Weight-loss surgery is common and very safe.
4. What can I expect after surgery?
Generally, plan on spending one to two days in the hospital and, usually, walking within four hours of surgery, and bathing the following day. You’ll be on a strict diet for the first 30 days: primarily liquid based for a couple of weeks and then returning to solid foods after about a month.
Avoid strenuous activity or lifting for about 30 days. It is common for most people to drive and return to work within two weeks.
5. How much weight can I expect to lose?
It is common to lose between 50 and 80 percent of excess body weight over a year or so, depending on the procedure you choose.
6. Can I still get pregnant?
Yes, you can still get pregnant, but it’s recommended waiting about 18 months after your surgery before trying.
7. What will my life be like after surgery?
You will return to a relatively normal life after the first month. Your weight will be dropping, and your medical problems will seem to be easier to control. As the weight falls off, you’ll be able to do more and not feel as tired afterward. You can go back to eating regular foods, just smaller portions. Exercise will get easier and you’ll get excited to step on that dreaded scale to witness your progress.
8. I’d like to have the surgery. What should I do next?
There’s no time like the present to start eating healthy, practice portion control, and start exercising. This is a lifelong commitment so why not start now. Consult with your physician and surgeon to make sure all your health issues are under control and your health maintenance is up to date. Talk to your doctor, ask for more information, and talk to your insurance provider to see if the procedure is covered.