Frequently Asked Questions

Bariatric surgery: one way to weigh less

Bariatric surgery has received a lot of attention in the media recently, thanks to the dramatic weight loss in some celebrities. Is this the latest craze? Is it for everyone?

Bariatric surgery has been around for more than 25 years. New advances have improved its success rate and offer real hope for severely obese patients who have failed with diet, exercise and behavior modification.

Many people have questions about bariatric surgery and if it may be right for them. Gundersen experts offer answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

What are the criteria for having the surgery?

A typical patient must be 100 pounds or more over their ideal body weight which roughly translates into a Body Mass Index of 40. Patients can sometimes weigh less but must have other obesity-related conditions. Patients need to show documentation that they have failed at other conventional treatment options within the last two years.

What are the preparations involved before surgery?

Since many factors can contribute to obesity, a multidisciplinary bariatric team evaluates and counsels potential candidates. A team approach ensures the best care and results. The team includes a surgeon, physician assistant, nutritionist, nurse and psychologist.

Does insurance cover it?

Many insurance companies recognize the health risks associated with obesity and cover bariatric surgery in qualified patients.

How will my eating habits have to change?

After surgery, patients can only eat a few ounces at a time without getting sick. In addition, many patients experience dumping syndrome (cramping, nausea, diarrhea) when they consume sweets and are advised to avoid them. Patients must learn to maximize nutrition from a small amount of food. Long-term success depends on the patient making lifelong behavior changes, including exercise and food choices.

How will surgery impact other physical conditions?

Patients see improvement or resolution of other conditions such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, joint pain, urinary incontinence, acid reflux, sleep apnea, depression and even the risk of some cancers.

How much weight can I expect to lose?

Depending on the type of bariatric surgery, you can expect to lose:

  • Bypass - 2/3 excess weight in the first year
  • Band - 42% average excess weight in the first year; 55% over first 5 years
  • Sleeve - 46-83% excess weight in the first year

What is the next step?

Gundersen offers free informational seminars to teach people about bariatric surgery. During the one-hour seminar, they discuss the goals and benefits of the surgery, lifestyle changes and potential risks.

For more information, or to register for a free seminar, call (608) 775-LOSE (5673).

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