When you have gained a significant amount of weight over a period of many years, the pressure to take it off becomes enormous. You didn’t choose to become obese. Obesity is not a choice, but you can choose to be healthy. In an effort to lose a significant amount of weight, you may have considered turning to bariatrics. Or, more specifically, weight loss surgery.
Bariatrics is the science of helping people lose weight through medical means. Bariatric surgery encompasses procedures like the gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, and lap band. There are also non-surgical techniques like the gastric balloon. All of these procedures are designed to help you shed the excess pounds quickly and healthily.
While it sounds like bariatrics is a quick fix for obesity, these procedures are anything but. You must work hard to make them pay off for you, even if you turn to permanent surgeries like the gastric sleeve or gastric bypass.
You will be required to make healthy food choices and eat nutritious meals. You’ll need to exercise regularly and drink lots of fluids. Leading a healthier lifestyle is what weight loss surgery success is all about. To get there, you need to choose a surgery that might be right for you.
But before you start marking the calendar, you’ll need to consult with a bariatric surgeon. Only a sit-down meeting with a qualified weight loss doctor can help you determine if weight loss surgery is right for you. Here are the other things you’re likely to learn by meeting with a bariatric surgeon in the hopes of reaching your health and weight goals.
What is the Purpose of a Weight Loss Surgery Consultation?
A Weight Loss Consultation Benefits Doctor and Patient
A weight loss consultation solves a number of issues for both doctor and patient. A doctor knows nothing about you when you call on the phone and schedule the meeting. During the quick phone call with the receptionist, the doctor can learn some things about you, such as the reason for your call. The sit-down meeting with the surgeon is the most important part. Only by meeting face-to-face can the doctor start asking questions to learn more about your goals and the status of your health.
The Surgeon Can Ask About Your Weight Loss Surgery Goals
Your doctor wants to know about the things that happened that caused you to seek out bariatrics in the first place. How long has it been since you began gaining weight? Have you tried to lose weight through conventional means? If so, and the weight has not come off after considerable effort, you may find that weight loss surgery is indeed for you.
The Doctor Can Make a Diagnosis and Surgery Recommendation
Only after asking questions and receiving answers can a bariatric surgeon correctly diagnose your level of obesity and recommend surgery as treatment.
The Doctor Can Learn About Your Health Status and History
Your doctor may ask about the status of your health aside from the excess weight. Do you have any weight-related ailments, or obesity comorbidities, for example? Many patients report during their consultations that they experience type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and osteoarthritis. In some cases, weight loss surgeries like the gastric sleeve can diminish or eliminate these ailments altogether. That’s in addition to helping you lose 50% to 80% of your excess weight.
You Can Learn More About the Safety of the Procedure and Risks
The consultation also solves a number of issues for you. For one, you get to ask important questions about the procedure in question. You can ask if weight loss surgery is right for the level of obesity that you suffer from. You can ask about the safety of the procedures. Gastric sleeve, for instance, is very safe and carries the same level of risk as a standard procedure like laparoscopic gallbladder surgery.
You Can Inquire About the Surgeon’s Experience and Training
You can ask to read weight loss surgery testimonials from the doctor and view before and after photos from previous patients. Also, you can ask about the surgeon’s schooling and qualifications, and about the surgeon’s track record for performing your type of surgery.
Most importantly, you can assess if you have a rapport with the surgeon, which is very important. Only when you feel comfortable with your bariatric doctor can you hope to have a successful surgery.
To make for a memorable weight loss consultation, it’s recommended that you take some questions into the meeting with you. Keep them on your phone or on a notecard. You may find that you draw a blank once seated across from the bariatric surgeon. Knowing what you want to ask ahead of time can save time and help you yield the most value from the conversation.
Questions to Ask Your Bariatric Surgeon
Why Do You Recommend the Gastric Sleeve (or Other Procedure)?
The gastric sleeve is quickly becoming the most common bariatric procedure performed today. The procedure has been shown to treat weight loss and comorbidities like type 2 diabetes. Regardless of which procedure your doctor recommends, ask why your surgery was recommended in particular. This important question will give you a clear understanding of the benefits surrounding the gastric sleeve, bypass, or lap band.
For the gastric sleeve, the benefits you may learn from your doctor include less joint pain, alleviation of type 2 diabetes symptoms, and – the big one – a resolution of a life-threatening condition. Bariatric patients who successfully go on to lose weight tend to live longer lives. And happier ones, too, so a better quality of life may be another benefit your doctor hails.
Even if all the benefits sound terrific, to become the most informed patient, ask if there are alternative means, like non-surgical treatments. And don’t be afraid to get a second opinion, if you think you need one.
Are There Any Risks to This Surgery?
All surgeries come with risks, like infection, excess bleeding, blood clots, and anesthesia-related problems. Your doctor will take into account your health and age when determining the safety of the procedure being recommended. The more unhealthy you are and the older you are, the higher the risks.
Bariatric surgeons lower the potential risks by performing the surgeries laparoscopically. This means only tiny incisions are used and a serpentine camera and other tools are implemented, which reduces dangers and downtime. Instead of cutting you open like open-heart surgery, all the action happens inside your abdomen while your surgeon controls the tools via a monitor positioned nearby.
Even after having the risks explained to you, become as informed as you can about your health and the specifics of the procedure before making a decision about your healthcare.
What is Your Experience with This Procedure?
The more experience your bariatric surgeon has performing the surgery in question, the higher your chances of a good patient outcome. Ask your doctor how many of these specific procedures he or she has performed. Ask about fellowship training and the use of new surgical technology. The more experienced your surgeon, the more likely you are to be happy with your results.
How Much Does the Surgery Cost?
Bariatric surgery can cost upward of $20,000 or more but that’s not the whole story. The reason surgery costs so much is because you have to factor in the healthcare facility, surgeon’s fees, anesthesiologist’s fees, medicines and technology, and other costs associated with the procedure.
Then there is health insurance. More health insurance companies are coming around to the fact that weight loss surgery saves lives. It’s medically necessary, not a cosmetic fad. Therefore, more policies than ever before now cover some or all of the costs of various bariatric procedures. You may find that, after insurance picks up the tab, you only have to pay $3,500 or nothing at all!
If insurance doesn’t cover the procedure, advocate on your own behalf to your employer’s HR department to see if they will consider adding weight loss surgery as one of your health coverage benefits.
There is also medical financing through companies like CareCredit and Prosper Healthcare Lending. Talk to your bariatric surgeon during the weight loss consultation to ask about the costs and whether insurance will help. Most offices will help you with any necessary paperwork, increasing the chances your surgery will be covered under your current policy.
A consultation with a weight loss surgeon can be informative and helpful. Find out if you are a good candidate for weight loss surgery by contacting Dr. Babak Moeinolmolki of Healthy Life Bariatrics. Dr. Moeinolmolki has been helping patients achieve a healthier weight for over twenty years. He offers telemedicine consultations during the pandemic for your convenience and safety. Choose a time that works best for you by calling (310)694-4486.