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FAQs Page 3

Coping with Concerns

How can I deal with my fear of surgery?

The fear of surgery is not irrational or abnormal; in fact, it’s perfectly natural. Bariatric surgery works by crating a smaller stomach pouch and, depending on the procedure, may shorten the digestive tract – all while the patient is under general anesthesia. If you have concerns, we recommend you:

  • Discuss any concerns or insecurities with your doctor
  • Attend a support group and speak with patients going through the same issues
  • Understand the complication and mortality rates of the surgery
  • Listen to bariatric surgery patients share their experience
  • And remember, you will have a team of healthcare professionals dedicated to your best possible care

How does bariatric surgery change my body?

For people who have spent years living with morbid obesity, bariatric surgery can transform their lives. This being said, it is important to be prepared for all aspects of the treatment. Surgery changes your body inside and out in a number of ways. Learn more about the different types of bariatric procedures to understand the implications of each option.

What is the cost of bariatric surgery?

For many people, bariatric surgery is covered by their health insurance plan. However, people who do not have insurance coverage for bariatric surgery must pay for it on their own. This is called self-pay or private-pay. Even though the financing may come out of pocket, most patients find that the surgery is worth the investment in their health and way of life. Additionally, the upfront cost is significantly smaller than the overall cost of medical treatment for diseases associated to morbid obesity. Please contact our office to learn about our current prices and third party financing options.

How will I pay for bariatric surgery?

There are two ways to pay for surgery. These include: Health insurance coverage for bariatric surgery and alternative financing options such as medical loans through third party institutuions.

What are alternative financing options?

Few people are able to pay cash up front for bariatric surgery. If you do not have health insurance coverage for bariatric surgery, there are alternative financing options available, such as medical loans through Care Credit. Many financing insitutution also allow you to include a co-applicant should you be concerned about your credit.

How long do I have to stay in the hospital?

It varies from person to person and depends on the procedures. Generally, the hospital stay (including the day of surgery) is less than one day (23 hours) for the gastric lap-band procedure.

After the surgery, what support will I receive in adjusting to new daily habits?

Our program is a comprehensive bariatric program that consists of an integrative combination including the following healthcare professionals: a program coordinator, psychiatrist, dietician, and surgeon. Each expert is dedicated to providing support for bariatric patients during both the presurgical and recovery processes. Nutritonal and behavioral support group meetings are included in your post-operative cre once a month.

Can I get pregnant after bariatric surgery?

Yes. However, it is recommended that women wait at least one year after the surgery before a pregnancy. Approximately one year postoperatively, your body should be fairly stable (from a weight and nutrition standpoint), and you should be able to carry a normally nourished fetus. Consult your surgeon as you plan for pregnancy.

What about postoperative pain and discomfort?

Many people fear that bariatric surgery will be followed by a long and painful recovery period. However, most patients experience only slight discomfort and soreness. Recovery does, however, vary from patient to patient.

How long is recovery?

As with any major surgery, there will be a recovery period. Remember that this is a necessary step, and the better care you take during recovery, the more quickly you will return to normal activity. Most patients stop taking pain medications within a week after surgery and depending on their daily tasks, can return to work at this time. Some restrictions may include avoiding heavy lifting and over exertion for the first four weeks after surgery.

What is the long-term success of bariatric surgery?

For people suffering from morbid obesity, bariatric surgery can make a remarkable change in their lives. For the surgery to be effective long term, it must be understood for what it is, a tool to support long-term weight loss. Through lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise and a healthy food plan, many patients are able to make a long-term change for better health.

Results of Five-Year Follow-up

Diet and Exercise* 2% to 5%
Medication ** 0%
Bariatric Surgery*** 50% to 70%

* Success measured as a loss of 10 percent of initial body weight ** Weight loss is not maintained once treatment ends *** Success measured as a loss of 50 percent of excess body weight (equivalent to loss of approximately 20 to 25 percent of initial body weight)

Life After Surgery

What will my life be like after the surgery?

Bariatric surgery is not a quick fix. It is the first step in a long-term journey toward transforming your health through lifestyle changes. After surgery, you will feel satisfied and fuller with less food. Positive changes in your body, your weight, and your health are to be expected, if you maintain the diet and exercise routines recommended by your bariatric program.

How often will I be able to eat?

After the initial recovery period, most patients are instructed to eat 1/4 cup, or 2 ounces, of food per meal, 3-5 times a day. As time goes on, you will be able to eat more. Most people can eat approximately 1 cup of food per meal (with 4 ounces of protein) a year or more post-surgery.

When can I go back to my normal activity level?

Your ability to resume normal levels of activity depends on a number of factors: your physical condition, the nature of the activity, and the type of bariatric surgery you had. Many patients return to normal levels of activity within three to six weeks of surgery.

How much exercise is needed after bariatric surgery?

Exercise is a keystone of success after surgery. You are encouraged to begin exercising, limited only by discomfort, soon after surgery. The type of exercise depends on your overall condition, but the long-term goal is 30 minutes of exercise three or more days each week. Lifting heavy weights is limited for 4 weeks after surgery but aerobic activity is encouraged during that time period. Swimming is also limited until incisions are fully healed.

Is there any difficulty in taking medications?

At first, your doctor may suggest that medications be taken in crushed or liquid form. Over time, most pills or capsules are small enough to pass through the new stomach pouch and you can continue this form instead. As a general rule, ask your surgeon before taking any medication.

What is “dumping syndrome?”

Eating simple sugars (such as sugar, honey, and corn syrup) or high-fat foods can cause dumping syndrome in patients who have had bariatric surgery. This occurs when these foods, which have a small particle size, are “dumped” from the stomach into the intestine very quickly. Water is pulled into the intestine from the bloodstream to dilute the sugar load. This flush of water causes symptoms such as diarrhea, hot flashes or sweating, increased heart rate, and clammy skin, and dizziness.

What is the long-term follow-up schedule?

Lap-band patients need to work with Dr Shillingford to have their band adjusted several times during the first 12 to 18 months after surgery. Patients typically see Dr Shillingford every three to six months for band adjustments.

How important is it to attend a support group?

Support groups are highly recommended as they give patients an excellent opportunity to talk about personal issues. Patients help keep each other motivated, celebrate small victories together, and provide a different perspective on the everyday successes and challenges that patients generally experience before and after surgery. Ongoing support after surgery helps to achieve the greatest level of success for patients. Nutritonal and behavioral support groups are available to Dr. Shillingford’s patients as part of their post-operative care once a month.

What are the long-term benefits of bariatric surgery?

Studies show that bariatric surgery can effectively improve and resolve many weight-related health problems. A scientific review of more that 22,000 bariatric surgery patients showed Improvement in or complete resolution of conditions including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and sleep apnea. Overall there was a 61.2% reduction of excess weight.

Results of Five-Year Follow-up

Diet and Exercise* 2% to 5%
Medication ** 0%
Bariatric Surgery*** 50% to 70%

* Success measured as a loss of 10 percent of initial body weight ** Weight loss is not maintained once treatment ends *** Success measured as a loss of 50 percent of excess body weight (equivalent to loss of approximately 20 to 25 percent of initial body weight)

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