Click here to view a Glossary of Terms for additional information about weight loss 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 with 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.
Why am I required to have a psychological evaluation before I have weight loss 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.
How can I start the process to have weight loss surgery?
Before you can have an evaluation to be considered for surgery, you are required to attend a free information session. Sanford Health hosts these monthly. Call (701) 323-5300 for more information or click here to register online.
Once the Weight Loss Surgery Welcome Packet is fully completed and returned, you will receive a call to schedule an appointment with the physician to discuss your needs and questions. A referral letter from your primary care physician should be sent to Sanford Health's Weight Loss Surgery department. This will help in getting reimbursement from your insurance company for the consult charge.
During the clinic session, if you decide to proceed with the surgery, a review of your medical records will be done, a physical examination will be performed, additional tests may be ordered and a photo will be taken. Your information will then be submitted to your insurance company for preauthorization.
If and when your insurance company approves you and we have received the approval letter, the nurse will call you to set up a surgery date. The entire process usually takes several months to complete and may require three to four visits to the clinic and/or hospital. Don't get frustrated. You have the rest of your life to reap the benefits of this surgery.
How does weight loss surgery work?
Bariatric surgery is the only option today that effectively treats morbid obesity in people for whom more conservative measures such as diet, exercise, and medication have not been effective.
Bariatric surgery works in one of three ways:
- Restriction, or limiting the amount of food intake by reducing the size of the stomach
- Malabsorption, or limiting the absorption of foods in the intestinal tract by "bypassing" a portion of the small intestine to varying degrees
- Combination of both restriction and malabsorption
What types of procedures are offered?
At Sanford Health in Bismarck, Roux-en Y gastric bypass, adjustable gastric banding (Lap-Band®) and sleeve gastrectomy procedures are offered by experienced and caring physicians who are there for you in your journey to weight loss. click here to learn more about each procedure.
How long should I expect for recovery?
Patients are walking within a few hours of surgery. Physical activity can be resumed as tolerated and most patient are back to normal activity or have improved mobility within 1-2 weeks of surgery.
If you have a non-strenuous job, you can go back to work within two weeks with the clinic's approval. With a more strenuous job full activity may take an additional 2 weeks.
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 4 times per day while hospitalized. Our team 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.
How quickly will medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep apnea improve?
Within weeks to months following surgery, many patients see medical conditions related to obesity improve or completely resolve or, 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.
Can I drink alcohol after surgery?
After gastric bypass alcohol is absorbed very quickly and ½ of a glass of wine, beer or alcoholic beverage will cause you to be legally drunk in 5-10 minutes. Studies have shown and increased risk of alcoholism after bariatric surgery. Occasional use a few months after surgery is reasonable.
Can I smoke after surgery?
No! Patients who smoke have a high risk of developing ulcer or strictures in their small stomach. Our goal for surgery is to improve your health, smoking itself will result in complication and increased medical problems.
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.
What is the follow-up routine for post-surgery patients?
Usually patients are scheduled for a follow-up office visit 2 weeks and six weeks after surgery. If patients are doing well at the 6 week visit, follow up will then be at 6, 12, and 18 months after surgery, then annually for a total of 5 years. If needed, more frequent visits will be scheduled. At follow up team will review appropriate eating patterns, make sure you are getting the right vitamins and provide you with individual counseling to help you achieve long term success.
Do I have to take vitamins for the rest of my life?
Yes. Surgery reroutes your food's pathway, decreasing nutrient absorption from ingested food; therefore, it is highly recommended.
What vitamins should I take and why?
You should take a multivitamin, Vitamin B12, calcium citrate and some patients will need Iron. Bypass of the upper small intestine decreases absorption of these vitamins.
Can I get pregnant and have children after this surgery?
Yes, barring other fertility problems. It is recommended that patients wait at least one year after the operation to get pregnant.
For more information call (701) 323-5300 or (800) 932-8758 ext. 5300 to learn more or click here to register online for a free information session.