Having weight loss surgery is a big decision, and one that will affect you for the rest of your life.
If you think you’re a candidate for weight loss surgery, read on for 10 questions that Arnold Salzberg, M.D., a bariatric surgeon at the Carilion Clinic Weight Loss Center, often hears from people who are considering weight loss surgery.
His answers may help you with your decision!
- Is the surgery painful?
It’s not nearly as painful as some other surgeries. "Because it is a laproscopic surgery, there are only small incisions, and you will be up and moving right away after surgery," said Dr. Salzberg. "Most patients don’t even need to take narcotic pain medication."
- What are the risks?
The risks are very low—less than one percent—and are mostly the same as risks associated with general surgery: bleeding, infection, blood clots and pneumonia.
- How long is recovery?
Surgery takes about two hours and you’ll be up and walking within four hours of surgery. "After just two days in the hospital, you’ll be back to doing cardio when you get home," said Dr. Salzberg.
- What happens to loose skin after surgery?
Plastic surgeons, such as the team at Carilion Clinic Cosmetic Center, are the experts at handling loose skin. Once you get close to your ideal weight after weight loss surgery, your bariatric surgeon can refer you to a plastic surgeon who can talk to you about body contouring.
- Will my appetite change?
The purpose of weight loss surgery is to make you feel full faster. "Some things you craved before—fried foods, chocolate, candy—you may no longer crave as you start to lean toward more vegetables and proteins," says Dr. Salzberg.
- How will my life change after surgery?
Weight loss surgery does not work on its own. It requires significant lifestyle change, including diet and exercise. "You’ll find that over several months after surgery, your weight loss will be astounding," says Dr. Salzberg. "After a few years, you’ll look in the mirror and find a new person staring back at you."
- How will bariatric surgery affect my health?
After surgery, weight-related issues that you dealt with before, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea and diabetes, could be gone.
- How will surgery affect my life?
Weight loss surgery is for patients who want to invest in their future and in their health. "You’ll see a more healthy, more effective you," says Dr. Salzberg. "You’ll be more mobile, you won’t have to go to the doctor as much, you’ll have fewer medications, your diet will be more rewarding and your time with your family will be much more rewarding."
- How soon will I see weight loss?
It’s different for everyone but on average you’ll lose five to seven pounds a week after surgery.
- Who will pay for surgery?
In most cases, insurance will pay for your surgery. They may require a period of medical weight loss prior to surgery that will help you get used to the diet you’ll be following after surgery.
Talk to your primary care provider about the different types of bariatric surgery and what may be most appropriate for you.