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Frequently asked questions

How much weight will I lose with gastric bypass?

The average patient loses 65 to 70 percent of their excess weight. Initially in the first two years they lose more, but later they regain some weight. Here are two examples.

A 300-pound person, with ideal of 150, will lose weight to about 180 pounds, but regain to 200, for a permanent weight loss of 100 pounds.

A 400-pound person, with an ideal weight of 180, will lose weight to 235 pounds, but regain to 260, for a permanent weight loss of 140 pounds.

These examples are not guarantees — they are averages. Patients with better eating habits and better exercise habits will lose more weight.

How much weight will I lose with the lap band?

The average weight loss is approximately 36 to38 percent of excess weight in two to three years after surgery.

Will I suffer from constipation after gastric bypass surgery?

Many patients have noticed constipation when they go on a diet. But after gastric bypass surgery, the bowel movements tend to be looser, not more constipated.

How quickly will medical conditions such as high blood pressure and sleep apnea improve?

Within weeks to months following surgery, many patients see medical conditions related to obesity resolve or improve, including high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic heartburn and sleep apnea. Diabetes tends to improve the fastest and most diabetics end up off their insulin and medications following surgery.

What kind of follow-up is required after gastric bypass surgery? After lap banding?

Gastric bypass surgery requires life-long monitoring. Patients are seen at various intervals during the first year following surgery and periodically thereafter. For lap banding, patients should be seen monthly for the first year after surgery.

What exactly happens to the bypassed stomach after gastric bypass surgery?

The bypassed stomach continues to work by secreting digestive juices. These juices go downstream and start digesting the food after the lower-sutured connection.

Many programs have a long waiting period to get started with the surgery process. What is the waiting period for Sanford's program?

This will greatly depend on your insurance requirements. Please contact your insurance provider to learn more.

I know that many people from out of town come to Sanford for this procedure. I live out of town and was wondering how long I'll need to stay close to Sanford following surgery?

For people who live more than 150 miles away from Sanford in Fargo, we recommend staying in the area for one day after being released from the hospital.

Can I have children after having weight-loss surgery?

While there is no increased problem with pregnancy and birth after obesity surgery, we recommend that you wait at least a year to 18 months after surgery to allow your body to get over the first phase of rapid weight loss. When you do become pregnant, we advise that you increase your protein intake and double your vitamins and iron supplements. We would like to discuss your bypass with your obstetrician so please let us know when you become pregnant.

Will my skin sag?

Yes, you will experience some sagging skin, depending on your age. If you're younger than 35, you have more elasticity in your skin and this will be less of a problem. Frequently a "tummy tuck" may be beneficial, but keep in mind insurance may not pay for this. You'll want to call your insurance provider to be sure.

Will I lose my hair?

You may notice you're losing more hair than usual during the first four to six months after bariatric surgery. This is common, and there's no need to worry. Patients typically regain the lost hair in the months that follow. Reasons for the temporary partial hair loss include rapid weight loss, the stress of undergoing major surgery and inadequate protein intake.

Will I become more sensitive to the cold?

Yes, you will find you are more sensitive to the cold. That's because the extra weight you once carried served as an insulating layer. We recommend you dress in more layers until you get used to your new body.

How big are the stomach staples? Can they rupture?

The staples we use are many in number, but very small. They are not picked up by airport metal detectors. With the technique we use, the staples do not rupture.

I understand it will take a while before I experience hunger again after I've had gastric bypass surgery. What can I expect?

This is correct. In the first three to six months after your surgery, you will not experience hunger. We call this the "honeymoon period" because life seems so easy and the pounds melt away. At some point, you will begin to feel hunger once again. We will help you deal with your new hunger urge in a healthful way.

When can I start exercising?

A walking program should be in place before surgery to increase your strength and endurance. We encourage you to get out of bed the first post-operative day and increase your activity level each day while you're in the hospital. Our nursing staff will help you. By the time you are discharged from the hospital, you should be able to walk short distances without difficulty.

Why am I required to see a psychologist before I can have the surgery?

Weight-loss surgery is often more stressful than people expect and requires major life changes. After surgery, problems related to depression, anxiety and relationships may come to the surface. People who are feeling emotionally strong and psychologically prepared for the lifestyle change they're about to make tend to be at lower risk for these problems. We want people to be well-prepared, both physically and emotionally.

Will I be able to feel the lap band port?

Yes, but it should not interfere with daily activity or sports participation.

Can the lap band leak? Is it harmful?

A leak in your lap band may occur, but is unlikely. If a leak does occur, it is not harmful because the lap band is filled with a safe saline solution.

Can I drink alcohol?

You will become about three times more sensitive to alcohol. You'll need to permanently limit your alcohol consumption to a light level.