Surgery / General Surgery - Minimally Invasive Surgery: Commonly Asked Questions about Bariatric Surgery
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What about pregnancy and birth control after surgery?
It is strongly advised that women of childbearing age use the most effective forms of birth control during the first 16 to 24 months after bariatric surgery. The added demands pregnancy places on your body and the potential for fetal damage make this a most important requirement.
Studies have shown that pregnancy after weight-loss surgery should have minimal adverse effects with close medical supervision and proper vitamin and mineral supplementation. The stomach is essential for production of hydrochloric acid necessary for proper iron absorption and intrinsic factor – a requirement for vitamin B12 absorption. In addition, the duodenum is the major site of iron absorption.
Is bariatric surgery appropriate for adolescents?
In adolescents, careful consideration must be given to potential adverse psychological and emotional consequences of weight loss programs, such as social stigmatization and risk of eating disorders. It is important to ensure that weight loss in adolescents does not impair linear growth and normal development.
Because pediatric weight management is a relatively young field of medicine, there are no long-term studies on the effects of bariatric surgery in adolescents. Special considerations are necessary because this group has not reached physical maturity.
Does health insurance cover weight loss surgery?
In most cases, the cost of surgery is covered by insurance companies and Medicare. However, despite meeting some or all of the necessary conditions, the criteria of insurance carriers and programs may vary from region to region and state to state. It is recommended that patients obtain specific guidelines from their insurance company prior to referral for bariatric surgery.
Who is not a surgical candidate?
The following are reasons an individual may be turned down for bariatric surgery:
• Untreated major depression/psychosis
• Certain personality disorders
• Active alcohol or drug abuse
• Noncompliance with preoperative medical, nutritional and psychological management
For individuals over 65, age is not an automatic reason for denial of surgery. However, for patients 70 years of age and older, the risk may outweigh the benefits.
How much weight can I expect to lose?
A recent analysis showed sustained weight loss through all surgical procedures was 61.2 percent of excess weight. This means if someone is 150 pounds overweight, he or she could expect to lose about 91.8 pounds. A comprehensive clinical review of 22,094 individuals who underwent bariatric surgery showed complete resolution or improvement of their co-morbid conditions. These include diabetes, hyperlipidemia, hypertension and obstructive sleep apnea.
How soon can I return to work?
The ability to resume pre-surgery levels of work and activity will vary according to your physical condition, the nature of the activity, and the type of bariatric surgery you had. Many individuals return to full pre-surgery levels of activity within six weeks of their procedure. Patients who have had a minimally invasive laparoscopic procedure may be able to return to these activities within a few weeks.
Are support groups necessary?
Most surgeons have support groups in place to assist with short-term and long-term questions and needs. These groups provide an excellent opportunity to discuss various personal and professional issues. Bariatric surgeons will tell you that ongoing postsurgical support helps produce the greatest level of success for their patients. For example, most individuals learn that bariatric surgery will not immediately resolve existing emotional issues or heal the years of damage that morbid obesity might have inflicted on their emotional well-being.