Obesity & Bariatric Surgery Frequently Asked Questions
Whether you’ve been considering weight loss (bariatric) surgery for years or just started looking into it, you probably have questions. The dedicated bariatric experts at Baptist Health help you learn more about what to expect and whether weight loss surgery is right for you.
Weight loss surgery can help you achieve a healthy lifestyle. In addition to preparing for the procedure itself, successful treatment means changing the way you look at food and live your life. Learning as much as you can about surgery and lifestyle changes can help you make good treatment decisions so you can achieve your health and wellness goals.
If you are considering bariatric surgery, here are answers to some frequently asked questions about obesity.
What causes obesity?
Obesity is a chronic medical condition that happens when the body stores higher than normal levels of fat. This extra fat makes the body work harder than it should to support your daily needs.
Many factors can lead to obesity, including:
- Family history: If other members of your family are obese, you face a higher risk of becoming obese during your lifetime.
- An unhealthy diet: Eating foods high in fat and not getting the right vitamins and nutrients increases your chances of becoming obese.
- Lack of exercise: If your lifestyle does not include regular physical activity, you face a higher risk for obesity. Even small changes in your daily activity level can help lower this risk.
What is body mass index?
Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on your height and weight. We use BMI to understand how your current weight compares to what is considered a healthy weight.
If your BMI is higher than normal, losing weight can reduce your risk of health complications, such as high cholesterol and sleep apnea. BMI is also one factor we use to determine which treatments will best meet your needs.
What is morbid obesity?
Morbid obesity is a more serious form of obesity because it increases your risk for other health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease.
Morbid obesity happens when you:
- Are a man and 100 pounds or more overweight
- Are a woman and 80 pounds or more overweight
- Have a BMI of 35 or more
You may qualify for weight loss surgery if you are severely or morbidly overweight. To qualify for surgery, you must have a BMI of 40 or greater or a BMI between 35 and 39.9 with a treated co-morbid condition that is considered life threatening, such as diabetes, high blood pressure or sleep apnea.
What is the best treatment for morbid obesity?
There are many treatments for morbid obesity, including physician-supervised diets as well as surgical and non-surgical procedures. The treatment that is best for you depends on your current weight, health history and previous attempts to lose weight.
Is it true that obesity increases my chances for a heart attack or stroke?
Yes. If you have a BMI of 30 or higher, you face higher risks for heart disease or stroke than people with a BMI of less than 30. In addition to increased health risks, you may also face unexpected costs in terms of lost wages and increased healthcare spending.
What other diseases are caused by obesity?
Diseases caused by obesity are called co-morbidities. Bariatric treatments from Baptist Health not only help you lose weight, but can also help you overcome comorbidities that often accompany obesity. Find out more about the conditions we treat.
Co-morbidities of obesity include:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Sleep apnea
- High cholesterol
Bariatric Surgery FAQs
What is bariatric surgery and how does it work?
Bariatric surgery, including gastric-bypass and other procedures, is any medical operation that alters a person’s gastrointestinal system with the goal of assisting in weight loss. Bariatric surgeries are only performed if other, less invasive methods, such as changes in diet and increased exercise, fail to achieve weight reduction. Procedures of this type limit the amount of food a person can eat, decrease the body’s capacity for nutrient absorption, or both. Bariatric surgery has a proven track record in managing obesity but comes with medical risks and side effects. Even when bariatric surgery is successful, a lifetime commitment to dietary change and exercise is critical to maintaining healthy weight loss.
What does a bariatric surgeon do?
Bariatric surgeons are physicians with special training in helping patients fight obesity. Care may include surgical or non-surgical treatments that are personalized to meet your unique needs.
Our surgeons are with you through all phases of your weight loss journey:
- In the early stages, they help you decide whether surgery is right for you and recommend the treatments that best meet your needs.
- They expertly deliver a range of treatments, including complex treatments like Lap-Band® revision surgery, with a focus on your safety and exceptional outcomes.
- After surgery, our surgeons provide regular monitoring during your recovery. They also meet with you periodically to make sure your weight loss stays on track.
Does Medicaid or Medicare cover weight loss surgery?
We work with most major insurance plans including government programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid. We work with your insurance plan to determine whether your treatment is covered and then take all necessary steps to get it approved.
Insurance plans often require tests, such as heart and lung screenings, to make sure you are healthy enough for surgery and motivated to maintain a healthy lifestyle after surgery. You can get all of these tests at Baptist Health. If you live far away, you may be able to get some of these tests at a hospital in your community.
Do I qualify for weight loss surgery?
Many patients ask, "Can anyone get weight loss surgery?", and the answer is no - patients must qualify for the procedure. You may be a candidate for bariatric surgery if you fit into one of two categories:
- You have a height-to-weight ratio or body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher.
- You have a BMI between 35 and 39.9, plus one or more health conditions related to obesity. These conditions include diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and sleep apnea.
You can learn more about whether you are a candidate for weight loss surgery by attending one of our free information seminars.
What will I eat after weight loss surgery?
Achieving the best results from weight loss surgery requires a lifelong commitment to healthy eating. Baptist Health will help you learn which foods best meet your nutritional needs and provide tips for eating them in healthy portions.
We help you get the nutrition you need and make steady progress toward goals through all phases of your weight loss journey. Here’s what to expect:
- Your pre-surgery care includes meetings with our registered dietitian to learn about healthy eating and how to break old habits.
- Immediately after weight loss surgery, diet progression may differ per facility. Your intestines have to do less work so they can heal.
- As you recover, we gradually bring regular foods back into your diet. You can consume soft foods, like yogurt, as well as vegetables and proteins that are easy for your stomach to digest.
- After a few weeks, you can expect to eat normal foods in small portions.
How much weight will I lose and how soon will it come off?
Each person’s weight loss journey is unique. Baptist Health uses a personalized approach to help maximize your weight loss and improve your overall health.
The amount of weight you lose and how quickly you lose it depends on:
- The type of treatment you receive: Treatments, such as gastric bypass surgery, can help you lose weight quickly. With other treatments, such as the new ORBERA balloon, you lose weight slowly, but patients are often able to keep it off longer.
- Your commitment to a healthy lifestyle: Consistently eating small portions of healthy foods and staying physically active play key roles in determining how much weight you lose. Setting realistic goals and knowing where to go for help when you have challenges can help you maintain steady weight loss.
Will I gain weight after the surgery?
Even when you’re working hard to live a healthy lifestyle, it is possible to gain weight after weight loss surgery.
Some of the reasons people gain weight include:
- Difficulty making good food choices and eating small portions
- Not getting enough physical activity
- Natural changes in stomach tissue that allow you to consume larger quantities of food over time
- Problems with implanted devices, like the Lap Band slipping out of place.
At Baptist Health, you have access to a broad range of weight loss options. If you gain weight after surgery, we offer treatments to help get you back on track. These treatments include Lap Band revision surgery and Apollo OverStitch™ weight loss revision surgery.
Will I have to diet or exercise after my procedure?
Yes. Weight loss surgery alone is not enough to help you lose weight and achieve better health. Adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes good eating habits and regular physical activity helps you get the most out of your procedure.
We provide education, encouragement and helpful tips on what to eat and how to become more physically active. You are welcome to attend our monthly support group for additional help toward healthy lifestyle changes.
What follow-up care is provided after surgery?
At Baptist Health, your weight loss journey does not end after surgery. In addition to caring for your medical needs, we give you the information and support you need to make a lifelong commitment to healthy living.
Your follow up care may include visits with our:
- Surgeon to make sure your recovery is on track and answer any questions you may have
- Nurse practitioners and physician assistants to provide additional medical care and make sure your health is steadily improving as you lose weight
- Registered dietitian to learn about the best ways to eat healthy and make sure you are meeting your body’s nutritional needs
- Support group to help you stay motivated and learn from the challenges and successes of other patients.