Frequently Asked Questions about Bariatric Surgery
Q. Am I a Candidate for Bariatric Surgery?
Obesity is a spectrum. Some patients need to lose a lot of weight and some patients need to lose just a few pounds. Bariatric surgery is meant for the person who needs to lose a lot of weight, and that depends on the body mass index (BMI). Surgery is generally considered when a patient has a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher.
Bariatric surgery is not just for weight loss or cosmetic reasons alone. Surgery may also be an option for a BMI of 35 or higher if the patient has obesity-related medical conditions such as diabetes, high-blood pressure, heart disease, sleep apnea, etc. Obesity can have a direct relationship with those medical conditions and bariatric surgery can help relieve and/or minimize them.
Q. Will I ever regain my weight?
The operation is a tool, which helps you control your weight by requiring modification in your dietary intake. If you do not use it correctly, you can regain the weight you have lost.
Three common culprits to poor weight loss or weight regain.
- Not exercising
- Drinking high-calorie liquids
- Grazing (eating little bits throughout the day without realizing it)
Q. After I lose weight, will my skin sag?
Everyone is different. This depends on your particular skin elasticity. Exercise can certainly help. However, if you lose an excessive amount of weight, more than likely you will have some excess skin. Some patients opt for plastic surgery to correct this problem, but it is truly a personal decision.
Most plastic surgeons require that your weight loss be complete, and your weight be stable for 3-6 months prior to plastic surgery.
Q. Are there medications I should avoid after surgery?
Any medication that irritates the stomach should be avoided. This includes aspirin, ibuprofen, and NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).
Any physicians who treat you in the future should be made aware of your surgery, and aware of avoiding these drugs. However, there may be situations where there drugs are necessary for a short time. If you have any questions, please call Dr. Malladi’s office for guidance.
Q. When can I take a bath or go swimming?
The skin incisions need to be sealed prior to going swimming or soaking in a tub. This is usually 3 weeks after surgery. Showering is fine.
Q. How soon can I have sex after surgery?
You may resume sexual activity when you’re comfortable. This is usually about 3 weeks after surgery.
Q. Is hair loss common?
Yes. Any time you go through rapid weight loss, you can experience hair loss. This is generally a problem noticed from around 3 months to 9 months or longer after surgery. This is temporary and varies from person to person. The most important thing you can do to minimize hair loss is to follow the prescribed requirements of the program.
Q. What diet will I follow after surgery?
You will be on a progressive diet starting with full liquids, then soft proteins, and finally regular foods around week 8. Your diet will always need to be low in fat and sugar.
Remember, when you begin to think about solid foods, you will want to avoid breads, pasta, potatoes, and rice, at least initially. Most patients are able to tolerate a bite or two of these items by 6 months or so post-op.
When you eat any meals, think PROTEIN FIRST.
You will always have access to a nurse and a dietitian to answer any questions you have concerning food choices and good nutrition.
Q. How much weight will I lose?
Weight loss varies depending on your pre-operative weight and your commitment to following the diet/exercise recommendations after surgery.
On average, you lose approximately 40-75% of your excess body weight depending upon which procedure you select.
Q. Will this surgery automatically cause me to lose weight while I eat anything and avoid exercise?
No! Bariatric surgery is only a tool and the beginning of a new process and new life. After surgery, you will need to follow a progressive diet that is low in fat and sugar.
Diet and exercise is still how weight loss and weight control are accomplished. You must commit to a change in your dietary habits and an exercise regimen for maximum success.
Q. Why do you recommend giving up alcohol, aspirin, ibuprofen and carbonated beverages?
Once you have weight loss surgery you are at an increased risk for ulcers and the substances listed in these items are known to contribute to stomach ulcers. Carbonation can also cause unpleasant gas and/or bloating.
Q. How soon after bariatric surgery can I get pregnant?
The minimum recommended time is 12 months after you reach your goal weight. Ideally, patients should wait 18 to 24 months after surgery before conceiving.
Q. How do I get rid of this gas after surgery?
The more you move around the faster the gas will dissipate. Also avoiding the use of straws early on after surgery will help reduce the build up of additional gas. You may take over the counter Gas-X or drink (sip) warm tea or broth for relief.
Q. When can I drive after surgery?
After you are sent home from the hospital, patients will need to wait at least 24 hours after taking narcotic pain medication.
Q. When can I go back to work?
When you return to work will depend on the type of work you do, your personal energy level and any restrictions your employer places on you. Patients have returned to work as soon as the next 4-7 days but the majority of patients take off 2-3 weeks.
During the first few months after surgery, you will find that your body uses a great deal of energy for the healing process. This means that there is not a lot of energy “left over” for other activities. You will have days when you seem to have more energy, and others when you seem to tire easily. When you feel tired, take time to rest. However, the more you can do the better. Be sure to listen to your body and use common sense.
Q. How long will I have to stay in the hospital after surgery?
Typically Gastric Bypass and Sleeve patients remain in the hospital 1-2 days after surgery. If needed, patients may stay longer. Lap Band surgery is usually a day surgery procedure.
Q. What are some of the co-morbidities of morbid obesity?
Diseases or conditions associated with obesity such as: Type 2 diabetes, High blood pressure/Heart disease, Osteoarthritis of weight bearing joints, Sleep apnea/Respiratory problems, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), Gallbladder disease, Depression, Infertility and/or menstrual irregularities, Skin breakdown, Swollen legs/Skin ulcers, Urinary stress incontinence & Pancreatitis.
Q. How do I determine my Body Mass Index?
The manual formula is:
BMI = (Weight in lbs X 703) / (Height in inches X Height in inches)
Q. What is morbid obesity?
Obesity that is related to significant health risk and is often associated with a variety of co-morbidities. It is usually defined as being 100 pounds of more above ideal weight and a BMI of 40 or higher.