If you’re considering weight-loss surgery, also called bariatric surgery, there are probably hundreds of questions spinning through your mind, and just as many websites out there offering advice.
But when surgery is on the table, you need answers you can trust. So, we went straight to an expert. Here’s how OhioHealth bariatric surgeon Nirav Rana, MD, responds when he’s asked about weight-loss surgery.
What is weight-loss (bariatric) surgery?
Bariatric surgery is a procedure that helps a person lose a significant amount of weight, and can resolve many medical problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and sleep apnea. Most people who have bariatric surgery lose about 45 pounds in the first two months after surgery, and continue to lose weight for the next 10–16 months.
There are two types of weight-loss procedures performed at most accredited Bariatric Centers of Excellence, including OhioHealth: the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and the sleeve gastrectomy. Both procedures are almost always performed using minimally invasive (small incision) techniques.
What are the requirements for weight-loss surgery?
The National Institutes of Health sets the criteria for bariatric surgery in the United States, and most insurance companies abide by the guidelines. People who have a body mass index, or BMI, of 40 or higher qualify for the surgery, as well as those with a BMI of 35–40 with associated comorbidities, such as diabetes or sleep apnea.
How much does weight-loss surgery cost?
Medicare, Medicaid and commercial insurers typically cover most of the surgery cost. How much you pay is determined by your individual insurance policy. You may have copays, or a deductible or out-of-pocket maximum you must meet before your insurance benefits kick in. Some health systems, like OhioHealth, also offer charitable funding for candidates who meet certain financial criteria.
OhioHealth’s Surgical Weight Management program staff and nurse navigators will communicate with your insurance company at the start of your weight-loss journey, so you know going in how much you may owe if you pursue surgery.
How quickly can I get weight-loss surgery?
It can take three to six months for your surgery date to be scheduled. This is because insurers require you to attend monthly education sessions to prepare mentally and emotionally for life after surgery.
At OhioHealth, these sessions include a dietitian as well as a psychologist. Scheduling and insurance coordination for these sessions are managed by staff and nurse navigators from the OhioHealth Surgical Weight Management program.
How safe is weight-loss surgery?
Bariatric surgery is the safest that it’s ever been. About 97–98% of patients have no complications. As with most major abdominal surgery, a 2–3% risk of complication is standard.
Nearly all weight-loss surgeries performed at OhioHealth are minimally invasive, which reduces risks and recovery time. Patients usually can walk six hours after surgery, spend two to three days in the hospital, and return to work within two to three weeks.
If you’re ready to learn more about your weight-loss surgery options, start with an OhioHealth Surgical Weight Management seminar! We offer them in-person and online. After the seminar, our program coordinators can answer your questions and help you with the next steps if you think surgery is right for you.