You probably have a lot of questions if you’re facing a weight loss surgery. Different bariatric surgeries are recommended for different overweight issues. Once a significant amount of weight is lost, many patients will follow a bariatric surgery with another type of cosmetic surgery such as a breast augmentation or tummy tuck, to help tone up the body by removing excess skin that’s left behind.
Here are some frequently asked questions—and helpful answers—for patients undergoing a weight-loss related cosmetic surgery.
How does bariatric surgery help a patient lose weight? Bariatric surgery changes the size of the patient’s stomach so that they aren’t able to eat as much. In a gastric banding procedure, an adjustable band is placed around the stomach to create a smaller stomach. In gastric bypass surgery, the stomach size is reduced and the intestinal tract is rerouted so that fewer nutrients are absorbed during the digestive process.
Am I a candidate for weight loss surgery? Patients who are morbidly obese—those who have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater—are generally candidates for a weight loss surgery. Patients may require weight loss surgery when medical conditions associated with obesity, such as diabetes and hypertension, become a serious problem for the patient.
How much weight can I expect to lose? Weight loss surgeries are effective at helping most patients lose anywhere from 50 to 100% of their excess body weight over the course of five years. Individual results depend on a number of patient-related factors that include diet and the ability to follow an exercise program.
Is the procedure reversible? Adjustable gastric bands are not permanent and are intended to be adjusted as the patient loses weight. Gastric bypass is a permanent procedure that cannot be reversed. Patients with a higher BMI are often recommended for a permanent procedure, while patients who are more likely to stabilize their weight after weight loss are good candidates for an adjustable lap band.
How long will I have to stay in the hospital? Patients who undergo adjustable gastric banding may be in the hospital for about one day, while those who have gastric bypass surgery may stay in the hospital anywhere from one to three days and/or nights.
When can I return to normal daily routines? Most patients are able to return to work and other daily activities with one week to ten days. An exercise program should be supervised and increased slowly over the course of about six weeks as your body adjusts to the surgery and taking in fewer nutrients.
What kind of follow-up care is required? Follow-up care for weight loss surgery is long term and sometimes permanent. A patient’s weight and overall health should be monitored regularly for at least five years following the procedure. Discuss this long-term relationship with your doctor before choosing a surgeon.
Which other cosmetic procedures may be recommended for me? Weight loss patients often maintain their new look with procedures designed to tighten up the loose skin left behind after significant weight loss. Your surgeon may recommend a tummy tuck, buttock lift, lower body lift, and/or breast augmentation to help better proportion your body after weight loss.