Weight loss surgery - frequently asked questions

What is Obesity?

Obesity is a progressive and life-threatening disease that results from the abnormal storage of fat. Obesity is the leading cause of preventable death. Morbid obesity is a severe form of obesity that occurs when a person’s body mass index (BMI) is equal to or greater than 40 or is between 35 and 40 with certain health conditions. Factors that contribute to obesity include those that are:

  • Genetic
  • Metabolic
  • Environmental

Obesity-related diseases include:

  • Arthritis
  • Acid reflux (GERD)
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Sleep apnea
  • Stress urinary incontinence
  • Venous stasis disease

What is my Body Mass Index (BMI)?

The chart below provides a guideline for determining your BMI or use the BMI calculator available from the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.

Who is a candidate for weight loss surgery?

Candidates for weight loss surgery include those who:

  • Meet National Institute of Health criteria for bariatric surgery
  • Has a BMI of equal to or greater than 40 or a BMI equal to or greater than 35 with certain medical problems that have been complicated by obesity
  • Has a documented history of weight loss attempts including dieting (Weight Watcher’s, Atkins, Slim Fast, etc.) and exercise
  • Has a history of physician-supervised weight loss with or without medications
  • Has no psychiatric contraindications
  • Commits to stopping smoking or tobacco usage
  • Is dedicated to the necessary lifestyle changes and follow-up

What long-term lifestyle changes may result from weight loss surgery?

Dietary changes that result from weight loss surgery include:

  • Increased accountability for nutrition and diet
  • Food journals and follow-up appointments
  • Protein with every meal and snack including chicken, fish, lean beef, Greek yogurt and cheese
  • Limit the intake of fats and complex carbohydrates
  • Avoid fried foods and sweets
  • Eat slowly, chew food well and do not drink with meals
  • Adequate fluids between meals, avoiding carbonation and sugar
  • Taking appropriate, quality vitamins and minerals
  • Limit or avoid alcohol

Changes to physical activity/exercise following surgery may increase primary weight loss and help maintain weight loss. Personal training and exercise consultations can help patients to:

  • Set attainable and realistic exercise goals
  • Learn proper form and tailored suggestions for personal workouts
  • Remain encouraged and motivated

What are the steps that lead to weight loss surgery?

  • Attend an informational session
  • Referral from a primary care physician
  • Meet with a surgeon for a consultation
  • Attend one-on-one nutrition evaluations with a registered dietitian
  • Attend an exercise consultation
  • Adhere to a 2 to 3 week pre-operative diet
  • Surgery
  • Follow-up for the rest of your journey

How soon can I return to work following surgery?

Each patient is different; however it is recommended that patients take a minimum of one month off work after weight loss surgery. This allows your body time to physically recover from the surgery and also adjust to a completely new routine and the associated dietary restrictions. There is a lifting restriction for about two weeks after surgery.

How will my medications be affected?

Fortunately, weight loss surgery can have a positive impact on many health conditions. This often results in the ability to reduce the dosage of some medications such as those related to insulin and blood pressure. Weight loss surgery can also affect the way the body absorbs medications. There are some medications that can no longer be taken or must be taken in a different form following weight loss surgery. Those considering weight loss surgery should discuss their current medications with the surgeon to determine what impact, if any, may result.

What dietary supplements will I need to take after surgery?

It is recommended that all patients take a daily multi-vitamin, along with Vitamin B and calcium supplements for the rest of his or her life. Other supplements may also be recommended depending upon the individual patient’s needs. Your dietary plan will be formed in consultation with a registered dietitian.

Can I get pregnant after surgery?

Patients who have undergone weight loss surgery are encouraged to wait at least two years after surgery before becoming pregnant. This allows a patient to be more aware of their own dietary needs and limitations prior to pregnancy.

What support is offered to those who have had surgery?

A monthly surgical weight loss support group meets at Maury Regional Medical Center. This group includes those who have had weight loss surgery and those who are considering surgery. Programs provide information to help patients on every stage of their journey. In addition, patients are able to receive support from members of the program’s team, including the surgeon, registered dietitians, physical therapists and others.

Is additional information available?

Additional information about weight loss surgery is available from the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.