Weight Loss Surgery FAQ
If you are considering weight loss surgery, you likely have many questions about what to expect before, during and after your procedure. We want to make sure you feel confident and informed about your surgery and how it can improve your quality of life. On this page, you’ll find answers to frequently asked questions about weight loss surgery at The University of Kansas Health System.
To find out if weight-loss surgery is right for you, call 913-588-1227, or request your appointment online. The University of Kansas Health System offers gastric bypass surgery for patients in Kansas City, Overland Park and surrounding areas.
Deciding if weight loss surgery is right for you will depend on many factors, such as your mental readiness, your overall health, your previous weight loss strategies, your body mass index (BMI), your insurance coverage and many others. Your weight alone will not determine if you are a candidate. Instead, we rely on BMI as a criterion for surgery. You must have a BMI of 40 or greater to qualify for weight loss surgery. If you have a BMI of 35 with health conditions related to your weight (also called co-morbidities), you may also qualify.
Certain weight-related health conditions may help you qualify for weight loss surgery. According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, obesity-related conditions that may qualify you for weight loss surgery include:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Sleep apnea and other respiratory disorders
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
- Lipid abnormalities
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Heart disease
See other co-morbid conditions that may help you qualify for surgery.
Significant weight loss is just one of the benefits of weight loss surgery. Many weight-related medical conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome and others are improved or completely resolved by weight loss surgery and the metabolic changes that accompany it. Often, those who have weight loss surgery are able to decrease or eliminate the need for prescription medications for their weight-related conditions. Weight loss surgery also has a significant impact on your quality of life, allowing you to enjoy activities you once couldn’t because of your weight.
Weight loss surgery is an important decision and a major life event. The procedure is not a cure-all, and it is only successful when it is a part of a healthy lifestyle. If you decide to have weight loss surgery, you will be asked to:
- Change your lifestyle and eating habits
- Increase your daily activity through exercise
- Keep your follow-up visits and comply with your physician’s recommendations
- Participate in support groups
Being mentally ready to take on this new lifestyle is essential for maximizing and maintaining your weight loss results.
You are encouraged to watch our online seminar to understand the different types of weight loss surgery available and the benefits and drawbacks of each. If you qualify and decide to have weight loss surgery, you will need to take some additional steps to prepare for your procedure.
- Pre-operative diet. Your insurance provider may require you to meet with a dietitian before your surgery to discuss your current eating habits. The dietitian will recommend a diet to follow before your surgery, and they may supervise your diet for a period of time before your procedure is approved.
- Exercise. This key component of weight loss is part of a healthy lifestyle. Try a few different types of exercise, such as walking or swimming, before your surgery.
- Psychological evaluation. Weight loss surgery has lifelong implications and demands behavioral change that could lead to stress. You will meet with a mental health care professional for a psychological evaluation that will give you and your healthcare team the tools to help you be successful in your weight loss.
- Sleep study. A sleep study can test you for sleep apnea. Sleep apnea that goes undiagnosed or untreated may cause serious problems after weight loss surgery.
- Smoking cessation. If you smoke, you will need to quit. Smoking increases the production of stomach acid, which could lead to ulcers and perforations of the stomach and intestines. It also impairs the ability to heal after weight loss surgery.
The type of surgery you choose will influence how much weight you will lose. Weight loss surgery is considered successful when the loss is equal to or exceeds 55% of excess body weight.
Clinical studies show most people lose weight rapidly and continue to do so for approximately 18 to 24 months after surgery. It is important to take advantage of this time to learn your limits and re-establish your relationship with food.
You may experience some pain and discomfort after your surgery, and the recovery time depends on the type of procedure and your health.
You will need to follow a strict nutrition plan after weight loss surgery, starting with a liquid diet, and then transitioning to soft foods until your body can adjust to solid foods again. You will also need to pay attention to how you eat: taking small bites, thoroughly chewing your food and eating slowly. You will need to learn to identify a new feeling of fullness in your body and stop eating when you start feeling full. Overeating, eating too quickly or not chewing well may result in vomiting.
Because weight loss surgery changes the way the body absorbs nutrients, you’ll need to take vitamins and supplements to prevent nutritional deficiencies.
Some people experience hair loss after weight loss surgery. This is usually temporary, and hair begins to grow back once rapid weight loss has slowed. Consuming enough protein and taking your supplements as recommended by your physician may help alleviate hair loss.
Weight loss surgery is only successful when it is a part of a healthy lifestyle. You will need to change your eating habits and choose healthy foods that fill you up so you can maintain your new weight. It is important to pay attention to emotional eating as your appetite returns so you don’t regain weight. You will also need to slowly start integrating physical activity into your daily routine.
At times, you may experience weight loss plateaus. Use a plateau to ramp up your exercise schedule or closely look at your eating habits.
You will deal with a lot of changes after your surgery and, at times, you may miss your old lifestyle. At The University of Kansas Health System, we are committed to supporting you through your entire weight loss journey. That is why we offer weight loss surgery support groups to help you cope with these changes while sharing experiences with others who have undergone weight loss surgery. Having this support will encourage you during challenging times.
Contact your insurance provider and ask for your policy information to learn what is covered. Insurance providers often have strict requirements for weight loss surgery. One of these requirements may include meeting with a dietitian and following a supervised diet for a designated period of time before your procedure is approved. Your insurance provider may also require a psychological evaluation, a medical evaluation, a sleep study or other screenings.