You’ll want to talk to your primary care doctor for in-depth discussions on your options for obesity surgery. What follows are commonly asked questions and a few quick answers to get you started with your doctor discussion.
1. What is the age limit for obesity surgery?
A team of health professionals – usually including a doctor, dietitian, psychologist and surgeon – will evaluate whether obesity surgery is appropriate for you. Although there’s no specific age limit for obesity surgery, the risks increase if you’re over age 65. The surgery remains controversial in people under age 18. Two helpful articles to read are: Adolescent Bariatric Surgery for Teens and Bariatric Surgery for Seniors.
2. Can you die having obesity surgery?
Obesity surgery is major surgery. For many people, it is a life saver. But it is not without risk and even the possibility of death. A study by the University of Washington found if a patient survived more than a year after the surgery, the benefits to her/his long-term health far outweigh the risks of the procedure. For more information, read How Safe Is Bariatric Surgery?
3. Which obesity surgery should I have?
There are several options for obesity surgery. Finding the right one for you is a combination of personal preference and specific health factors, as well as the opinion of your bariatric surgeon. Surgeries to research include gastric bypass, gastric sleeve, gastric band, and duodenal switch. I suggest you begin with my article, Which is the Best Bariatric Surgery for Me? Also, a Non-Surgical Gastric Balloon recently has been approved.
4. How do I find a surgeon to do my obesity surgery?
The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) has a searchable online database to help patients find bariatric surgeons, doctors and hospitals. The ASMBS has nearly 4,000 members including general surgeons and integrated healthcare professionals practicing in the field of metabolic and bariatric surgery. I also suggest reading, Choosing the Right Bariatric Surgeon.
5. Will doctors perform obesity surgery for reduced or no fee?
The Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of American offers full and partial grants every year and they are now accepting applications. Begin the process by reading their procedures How to Apply for a Grant.
6. Does Medicare cover obesity surgery?
Medicare qualified patients are Medicare beneficiaries who have a BMI greater than 35, have at least one co-morbidity related to obesity, have been unsuccessful in other weight-loss treatments, and surgery is considered a medical necessity. Approval for weight loss surgery is reviewed on a patient by patient basis. Learn more about Weight Loss Surgery Insurance Coverage.
7. Insurance denied my obesity surgery. What can I do?
If you are denied, you have the right to appeal. First, get the reason for your denial in writing. Your insurance company will have appeal guidelines. Contact them for the information and follow the protocol. Read Bariatric Surgery Insurance Appeal to better understand the process.
8. Will I need plastic surgery if I have obesity surgery?
The consequence of sagging skin after massive weight loss from obesity surgery is the result of prolonged stretching of the skin over time from morbid obesity. Post bariatric plastic surgery is the only way to remove this excess skin. But doing so is elective, and often plastic surgery is not covered by insurance. Learn more in my article, “Why Get Plastic Surgery after Weight Loss.”
9. Can I have obesity surgery redone if I regain weight?
Your options are partly limited by the type of obesity surgery that you had to begin with, as well as other factors. There are a few options for revision surgery: band over bypass (LAP-BAND or Realize Band), revision to distal gastric bypass (if your previous surgery was proximal gastric bypass), revision to gastric sleeve, revision to duodenal switch.
10. Are there online obesity support groups for people who are having/have had surgery?
BariatricPal, ObesityHelp, and Thinner Times are a few of the most widely used online support groups for obesity surgery patients. These community are very active, and there are dedicated groups for each of the different surgical procedures.
Living larger than ever,
My Bariatric Life