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Frequently Asked Questions

To view a list of glossary terms concerning weight loss surgery, click here.

How much weight will I lose with Roux-en Y gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy?

The average patient loses 60 to 80 percent of his or her excess body weight after gastric bypass and 50 to 70 percent of excess body weight after sleeve gastrecotmy. You will lose weight actively for 12 to 18 months after surgery. After that, most patients regain a little (10 to 20 pounds) and that is their new ‘normal' weight.

For example, if you weigh 300 pounds and your ideal body weight is 150 pounds, your "expected result" would be as follows:

  • For 80 percent of excess weight loss, you would lose 120 pounds, ending at approximately 180 pounds.
  • For 60 percent of excess weight loss, you would lose 90 pounds, ending at approximately 240 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 40 to 60 percent of excess weight in two to three years after surgery.

Will my insurance company cover weight loss surgery?

Your insurance company has established criteria that would qualify you for weight loss surgery. Below are some steps and examples of guidelines your insurance company may require before approving your surgery. 

  • Start by asking if your policy has benefits for weight loss surgery. Click here for an insurance worksheet as a guide to use when speaking with your insurance company.
  • Most insurance companies require a body mass index (BMI), a calculated number based on your height and weight, of 40 or greater. In some instances, they may allow surgery if you have a BMI greater than 35 and have related medical conditions. Click here to see a BMI chart.
  • You may need to show your previous weight loss efforts. This usually means your primary care physician has documented that you have received weight loss counseling. You will need to provide the last three to five years of your medical records.
  • Before your information is submitted to an insurance company for preauthorization, you will be required to a have psychological evaluation. This will assess whether or not you can comply with the necessary steps involved with this surgery and the lifelong changes you will need to make. This does not need to be completed before you attend an information session. 

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

Within weeks to months after surgery, many patients see medical conditions related to obesity improve or completely resolve, 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, depending on the surgical procedure.

What kind of follow-up is required after gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy surgery? After Lap-Band®?

All bariatric surgical procedures require lifelong follow-up with the bariatric team. Gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy patients are seen regularly the first year following surgery and annually thereafter.

Lap-Band® patients should be seen every four to six weeks for the first year after surgery for adjustments and then annually as needed.

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?

The program does not have a waiting period, however the time patients typically wait to get to surgery depends on their pre-op insurance requirements, which varies widely. Typically, it takes four to six months to work on insurance requirements before surgery is able to take place. Please contact your insurance provider or arrange a consultation to learn more.

How long will I be in the hospital after surgery?

For all usual laparoscopic bariatric surgeries, the average hospital stay is one night. If you have an adjustable gastric band (Lap-Band®) and live locally, you may be able to go home the same day. Discuss your situation with your surgeon to get a better idea of how long you will be hospitalized.

How long will I need to take off work?

For laparoscopic bariatric surgery, the average amount of time away from work is one to two weeks. Your surgeon will discuss your individual recommendations at your consultation.

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. If you do become pregnant, inform your bariatric surgeon and the physician caring for you during your pregnancy regarding your history of bariatric surgery. We will also advise you to increase your protein intake and adjust your vitamins and iron supplements.

Will my skin sag?

Yes, you will experience some sagging skin, depending on your age and the amount of weight loss. If you're younger than 35, you have more elasticity in your skin and this may be less of a problem. Cosmetic (plastic) surgery may be beneficial, but keep in mind insurance may not pay for this. If you would like a referral to a plastic surgeon to discuss your options, contact your surgeon.

Will I lose my hair?

You may notice hair loss between months three and six after bariatric surgery. This is common, and there's no need to worry. Patients typically regain the lost hair in the months that follow. Hair is lost due to your body's rapid weight loss and the stress of undergoing bariatric surgery. Sticking to a healthy diet, adhering to your prescribed supplement regimen and getting at least 60 grams of protein per day will help hair regrowth.

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 does “full” feel after surgery?
Many patients report that the full feeling is different after surgery, and is felt much higher in the abdomen. Typically patients feel this new sensation at the lower end of their breastbone or in the mid-chest area. Learning to eat the right foods with the correct timing will help you get used to your new body and its fullness cues. It's important you eat very slowly to achieve this satisfied feeling after surgery while making a conscious effort to not overeat.

When can I start exercising?
A walking program should be in place before surgery to increase your strength and endurance. We will help you get out of bed the same day as surgery and increase your activity level each day while you're in the hospital. We will ask you to walk a minimum of four times per day while hospitalized. Our nursing staff will help you until we deem you steady on your feet. By the time you are discharged from the hospital, you should be able to walk short distances and take stairs without difficulty.

Why am I required to see a psychologist before I can have 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 our patients to be well prepared, both physically and emotionally.

Will I be able to feel the Lap-Band® port? Will people be able to see the Lap-Band® port?
You will be able to feel the port but it should not interfere with daily activity or sports participation. Others will not be able to see the port, no matter how much weight you lose.

Can the Lap-Band® leak? Is it harmful?

A leak in your Lap-Band® may occur, but it is highly unlikely. If a leak does occur the solution will not harm you as the Lap-Band® is filled with a safe saline solution. If you happen to experience a leak, you may need an additional same day procedure to correct the problem.

Can I drink alcohol?

We ask that you do not drink alcohol for eight weeks after your surgery. You will become about three times more sensitive to alcohol. You'll need to permanently limit your alcohol consumption to a light level.