Which operation is right for me?

The American Society for Bariatric Surgery does not yet offer any guidelines that will help patients and their doctors make that decision. The choice of surgery is a deeply personal one, and every patient must weigh the risks and benefits of each operation. We encourage you to seek several medical opinions and to educate yourself fully before making a decision.

Will my insurance cover these surgeries?

Many insurance companies do cover bariatric surgery, but everyone's individual coverage will depend on their plan. You can call your insurance company (call the phone number on the back of your insurance card) to find out if bariatric surgery is a covered benefit. There is also an insurance coordinator at each surgeon's office to help you determine whether your insurance company will pay and, if so, what is required for authorization.

If my insurance company doesn't cover the cost of the procedure, how much will it cost me out-of-pocket?

Our financial office will review the fees with you before your surgery so there are no surprises. However, it's important to remember that in the event of complications, there will be additional fees for treatment and/or a hospital stay.

Are there tax benefits to having these surgeries?

Talk with your accountant. If you pay out-of-pocket for all or part of your treatment, you may be eligible for a deduction on your income tax return.

What are the risks and complications of bariatric surgery?

Please refer to this site's section on the surgical procedures themselves. Use our site as a starting point, then attend one of our informational seminars and ask the surgeons for a detailed discussion of the risks of surgery. They will not try to hide anything from you, but will respond to your questions thoroughly and honestly.

Are there any limitations to performing laparoscopic surgery?

We approach every patient as a candidate for laparoscopic surgery, however if you've had previous operations with resulting scar tissue it may be necessary to make a conventional incision. Not all patients are suitable for laparoscopic bariatric surgery, but most are. Ask your surgeon if there's any reason to believe you're not a candidate.

Will you have to remove my gallbladder during surgery?

We no longer routinely remove the gallbladder during surgery. Gastric bypass patients may need to take gallstone dissolving pills for the first three months. If you already have gallstones, it is recommended that the gallbladder be removed during surgery to avoid future problems with the stones. Lap Band patients lose weight more slowly, have fewer gallstones and do not have to take gallstone dissolving pills.

If I have the same appetite as I do now with a smaller stomach, will I be frustrated all the time?

Bariatric surgery puts the brakes on our busy, hectic lives and redefines our relationship with food. How often have you finished a meal, and realized you haven't tasted it, you've eaten too much and feel awful, so you wait a long time and then do it all over again? These surgeries help you reconnect with your body and define whether you're feeding the hunger in your head or heart or whether you're battling boredom. With the help of our team, you'll learn to distinguish between food as a source of comfort and food as a fuel source. It won't always be easy, but it's worth the effort.

I know there are concerns about vitamin deficiencies with the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. Is that true of the adjustable gastric band as well?

No. Because gastric band surgery is restrictive, not malabsorptive, patients are unlikely to experience deficiencies. Our surgeons recommend a daily multivitamin a day for post-surgical gastric band patients.

Will I lose any hair?

Some hair loss is typical with rapid weight loss. This means more hair in the brush or shower drain. You do not go bald. Watching your vitamin and protein intake certainly helps reduce this, but all patients that lose a significant amount of weight will experience some hair loss. It will grow back. Hair loss usually occurs during the first year.

Will I need plastic surgery after surgery?

About a third of our patients will have some type of plastic surgery after they lose weight. The most common operations are tummy tucks, breast surgery (reduction, augmentation, lifts) and removal of excess skin from the arms and legs. Plastic surgeons recommend that these operations be done after you complete your weight loss. This will allow them to judge how much the skin is going to retract. The degree to which the skin retracts depends upon its elasticity. The skin loses its elasticity with age and with multiple pregnancies.

What if I don't have a referral from my primary care physician or if I don't want my PCP involved?

We strongly recommend that you develop a trusting relationship with your PCP. If your PCP doesn't support your interest in weight loss surgery, find someone who does. It's essential that you are under the care of a physician for your lifetime, so choose a PCP who's on your team.