Many are familiar with the life-changing aspects of bariatric surgery. With a single procedure, weight loss suddenly becomes possible after a potentially long lifetime of trying. When you become obese, it is true that losing weight becomes infinitely more difficult than it is for someone of normal weight. Why this occurs all boils down to hormones, genetics, a slowed metabolism, and other mitigating factors. In some cases, weight loss is more difficult because of bad habits, and psychological issues such as overeating while stressed. Bariatric surgery is like flipping a switch. It will make weight loss much easier for someone who suffers from the disease of obesity.
Gastric sleeve surgery is one of the world’s most prescribed bariatric surgeries. The procedure boasts a low chance of complications and a high degree of weight loss success. Unfortunately, only 1% of qualified individuals seek out bariatric surgeries such as sleeve gastrectomy, another name for the gastric sleeve. Those that do qualify are sometimes deterred from pursuing bariatric surgery because of certain factors. One of those is that they have heard that the process is slow. That you cannot have surgery right away. You must wait a long time past the consultation stage. This post is meant to dispel this myth by showing you that it is possible to have gastric sleeve surgery quickly after the consultation stage.
But first, do you qualify for gastric sleeve surgery? To be sure, let’s look at the qualification requirements.
Are You a Suitable Candidate for Gastric Sleeve Surgery?
Bariatric specialists agree that gastric sleeve surgery (also referred to as laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy (LSG)) is one of the most reliable and effective treatments for morbid obesity. The procedure has become so popular worldwide that it has gained precedence over established medical techniques such as Lap-Band (laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding) and Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery.
To qualify for gastric sleeve surgery, a bariatric specialist will first measure your body mass index or BMI. BMI is a measurement that determines your weight in kilograms (or pounds) divided by the square of your height in meters (or feet). A high BMI indicates obesity or morbid obesity, which could qualify you for gastric sleeve surgery.
Generally speaking, you would need a BMI of 40 or higher to qualify for the gastric sleeve. To give you some idea of what this means, if you are 5 feet, 9 inches tall, you would have a body weight of 270 pounds at 40 BMI.
There is a caveat here. You can also qualify with a slightly lower BMI of 35, but only if one or more obesity comorbidities are present. Common weight-related ailments include asthma, type 2 diabetes, joint pain, hypertension, and sleep apnea.
Body mass index is not the only qualifying attribute doctors measure. During the initial consultation, the bariatric specialist will ask about your health history before performing a brief physical exam. This is meant to uncover any underlying illnesses that may be present, as well as to determine your current state of health. You must be able to handle the physical stress surgery puts on your body. If you are generally healthy with no underlying conditions, this works in your favor when determining how well you qualify for a bariatric procedure.
Psychological health is also assessed during a consultation. After undergoing gastric sleeve surgery, you will find yourself enduring a number of dramatic lifestyle changes. These modifications can be incredibly stressful and oftentimes unexpected. Your bariatric doctor wants to know that you are mentally strong enough to withstand the transformation bariatric surgery offers.
In addition to mental readiness and strength, you must convey that you have the proper attitude about food, physical fitness, and health.
It should be noted that insurance companies are also interested in your physical and psychological health. To have insurance pick up some or all of the tab associated with gastric sleeve surgery, most companies require a pre-operative evaluation process and psychological consultation. Passing these requirements conveys that you have just what it takes to succeed with bariatric surgery.
What to Expect During Your Initial Consultation
The first step to undergoing a bariatric technique such as gastric sleeve surgery is to schedule a consultation with a qualifying bariatric surgeon. This meeting is vitally important to the process. You can meet your surgeon and assess the rapport between the two of you. You can ask questions to alleviate your concerns and gain additional knowledge about the procedure you want. Most importantly, you can be approved for bariatric surgery, if you qualify.
Your surgeon also has goals that can be met during the consultation stage. By asking pertinent questions, and receiving your answers, the bariatric specialist can better understand your struggles to lose weight, as well as your weight loss goals. The consultation is your chance to get everything out, that your clothes no longer fit quite right, that your joints are hurting, and that your self-esteem has plummeted on account of the obesity you suffer from.
So that you do not blank when seated across from the surgeon, it might be helpful to bring along a weight loss journal, and detailed notes regarding your weight loss efforts. A list of questions to ask can also be helpful during this discreet, one-on-one sit-down event.
Common questions include:
- How much weight can you expect to lose and how quickly?
Gastric sleeves can result in a 50% to 60% loss of weight within one to two years.
- Will there be scarring?
Due to the minimally invasive technique used with laparoscopic gastric sleeve surgery, small incisions are used, which allows for small scars that will fade over time.
- Will anesthesia be used?
General surgery is used during gastric sleeve surgery. It means that you will be asleep during the process and will not feel a thing.
Other questions you might want to ask include what to expect during the healing process when you can return to work, and how to get insurance to cover some or all of your out-of-pocket costs.
The Gastric Sleeve Surgery Approval Process
Measuring at a 40 or higher BMI (or 35 with obesity comorbidities) and demonstrating that you are of sound physical and mental health are the first steps toward qualifying for gastric sleeve surgery. Next comes the insurance approval process if you want help covering your bariatric surgical bills.
The insurance approval process for gastric sleeve surgery varies depending on your insurance policy. This process could be fast or slow, depending on how overwhelmed your insurance company is. If the company has a load of pre-approvals to go through, you may have to wait for some time before you are approved. This is one hurdle you may have to overcome if you want to have surgery quickly.
Another frustrating hurdle you may face is the medical necessity clause. Insurance providers want to know that the bariatric surgery you want is absolutely necessary for health reasons. Unfortunately, they will not take your word for it.
To fulfill the medical necessity clause, the insurance company will mandate a series of tests, which can include blood, urine, and imaging examinations. Some providers also want you to participate in a three-to-six-month-long medical weight loss program. Only by completing these tests and a weight loss program can the insurance company know whether gastric sleeve surgery is necessary or not.
Of course, if you have the money to pay for the surgery out of pocket, this stage may not be necessary. Gastric sleeve surgery costs $14,900 on average. If you can’t cover the costs out of pocket and do not qualify for insurance, or have no insurance at all, other ways to pay include medical financing, a personal loan, crowdfunding, and borrowing the funds from friends and family.
Read our article: Gastric Sleeve Surgery: How Do You Know It’s Time?
Why Can’t You Have Gastric Sleeve Surgery Right Away?
The insurance qualification stage may delay gastric sleeve surgery. Other factors that can delay surgery include the steps bariatric specialists require before scheduling you for the procedure you want. These steps are meant to educate you on the process and what to expect, as well as provide you with the tools necessary to succeed with long-term weight loss.
Before scheduling you for surgery, your bariatric specialist may organize an educational seminar. This class is meant to educate you on everything you need to know about the laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy procedure. The seminar typically involves video presentations that teach you about the benefits of gastric sleeve surgery, the risks you can face, and possible complications that can occur during and after the surgery.
Nutritional and Behavioral Modification Class
The next step in the approval process will see you experiencing a class that educates you on the habits to adopt and drop if you hope to succeed with long-term weight loss. Nutritional habits may include foods to eat and which ones to avoid. Behavioral modifications might include the avoidance of binge eating and the drinking of alcohol as well as the adoption of a regular physical exercise routine.
Read our article: 5 Habits to Adopt for Bariatric Surgery Success!
Preliminary Tests and Health Screenings
The staff will run conclusive tests and screenings to determine the presence of underlying health issues. These include blood exams, urinalysis, nicotine screenings, blood type tests, and HCG for menstruating women. These tests and screenings can also delay your time to undergo surgery. That is because they can take six weeks or longer to get results.
When the Day of Surgery Occurs
As you can imagine, the time that passes between your initial consultation and the day of surgery can vary. In general, you can expect to wait six to eight weeks before you are actually prepped and wheeled into the operating room.
If your insurance carrier demands that you take a weight loss program, you may have to wait for up to six months. Not having to wait for insurance approval, which means paying for the procedure out-of-pocket or through other means, can hasten the process.
But what if you don’t want to wait? Is there another way to have surgery quickly following your initial consultation?
Is There a Fast-Track Program for Gastric Sleeve Surgery?
Certain bariatric surgeons offer a fast-track program that allows you to undergo gastric sleeve surgery in a matter of days or weeks following that first consultation. These surgeons allow for a comprehensive consultation, testing, and surgery that is conducted in-house with no referrals, clearances, or pre-surgery testing required.
In many cases, these fast-track to bariatric surgical programs involve hotel and black car service. This is ideal for patients who travel to the surgeon’s office from out of town. They will assign you to a surgical coordinator who works as your guide before, during, and after gastric sleeve surgery.
General guidelines for qualifying for these fast-track programs include being healthy and having an elevated BMI. You should also be able to answer ‘yes’ when asked if this will be your first bariatric surgery.
Schedule a Gastric Sleeve Consultation in & Near Los Angeles for an Improved Quality of Life
By now you know the answer to how long you have to wait between the consultation and gastric sleeve surgery. The basic answer is that it depends. If you need to wait on insurance qualification, you may have to wait up to six months or more. When you take advantage of medical financing and other funding means such as obtaining a personal loan, you might only be delayed for a period of weeks.
Unless, of course, the bariatric surgeon offers a fast-track program, which can see you undergoing surgery in a matter of days or weeks following the first in-person meeting with a qualified bariatric professional.
If you live in & near Los Angeles, California, you will be pleased to know that Doctor Babak Moeinolmolki specializes in bariatric procedures such as gastric sleeve surgery. Doctor Moeinolmolki also offers a fast-track program, letting you to have the surgery you need sooner instead of later.