Getting Started with Bariatric Surgery

North Memorial Better Health Blog Author Logo
August 24, 2023

The path to bariatric weight loss surgery is paved with essential steps that lay the foundation for success. From understanding the preparatory measures to embracing the numerous goals and benefits of weight loss surgery, we’re here to guide you along this path and help you feel confident about what’s ahead.

Guidelines as you start your journey

  • View our informational video and do some research on weight loss surgery to decide if it might be right for you.
  • Find a support person, one who will help you through your journey into a healthier life.
  • Attend a support group meeting. Speak with patients who are in various stages of the journey, and ask questions!
  • Talk with your Primary Care Provider.
  • Write down all your questions. Be sure to get each one answered. Have family members and friends write their questions down too.
  • Stop smoking. Our program requires you to be nicotine free and free from inhalant use for at least 8 weeks prior to surgery. Do not use nicotine gum, patches, or electronic cigarettes. Our team may check nicotine levels if we feel it is needed. Your surgery may be delayed if we find nicotine in your system.
  • Check with your insurance company.
  • Decide which procedure is right for you. Our team can assist you with this decision, answering questions, and providing information to make this easier for you. Insurance coverage and your health may influence the final plan. Don’t feel pressure to make a choice before you discuss all the facts with our team.
  • Meet with a dietitian before surgery and one or more times after surgery. The number of visits required may vary based on your insurance coverage as well as our requirements.
  • Complete your Health and Behavior Assessment. Anyone considering weight loss surgery needs to have had an evaluation by a behavioral health provider within the last 12 months. Your surgical team will be able to provide a list of providers who can administer this preoperative evaluation.
  • Other psychological testing or treatment. The weight loss surgery team may ask for other psychological testing or treatment. The goal is to prepare you for the many life changes that can be challenging after surgery. We are NOT looking for a reason to deny surgery!

Goals and benefits of weight loss surgery

Weight loss improves the quality of your life. It can also lengthen a person’s life by improving your health in many ways. Besides weight loss and being able to keep a healthy body weight, an additional benefit of weight loss surgery is the ability to control one’s appetite. Weight loss surgery gives an increased sense of fullness after eating a small amount of food. This feeling can last several hours.

Improving (and sometimes eliminating) weight-related health problems:

  • Diabetes. Most people are able to decrease or some completely stop their diabetes medications.
  • High blood pressure. People who take several blood pressure medicines may be able to control their blood pressure with little or no medication.
  • Sleep apnea. Symptoms of sleep apnea and the need for a CPAP machine usually decrease after weight loss. Many people are able to get rid of their CPAP altogether, although this may take several months and a repeat sleep study.
  • Asthma. Patients may need their inhalers less often. Many people with asthma find that they have fewer attacks or sometimes none at all. Attacks are likely to be less severe if they do happen.
  • Reflux (GERD or heartburn). Most times this gets better. Very few cases end up with symptoms that are worse. Some people who have had the sleeve gastrectomy find that their reflux gets worse. Preoperative upper endoscopy helps determine who is at risk.
  • Heart disease. Because weight loss improves factors like diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, it also helps reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Reproductive complications. Women with infertility problems before weight loss may find it easier to get pregnant after losing weight. Losing weight makes pregnancy lower risk and is safer for both mother and baby.
  • Arthritis. Less weight on the joints helps to alleviate arthritis pain. Losing weight also allows one to be more physically active, and this can help painful joints.
  • Urinary stress incontinence. Usually, this problem improves with weight loss.
  • Depression may improve, but it does not “go away.” Those with depression or other psychiatric illnesses will still need lifelong follow-up. It is important that you remain on antidepressants as directed.

Measures of success

In general, weight loss surgery is considered a success when you lose and keep off at least 50% of your excess body weight for five years or more.

Weight loss success is different for each person. For some, it is the actual number of pounds lost, while for others it means gaining control of their diabetes, and for yet others, it means playing and running with their children or grandchildren.

Get started

Begin your weight loss surgery journey at North Memorial Health by watching our 30-minute informational video. The video will give you a clear understanding of our Bariatric and Metabolic weight loss surgery program, including the types of procedures available, the process leading up to the surgery and the lifestyle changes after the surgery.

To move to the next step in your weight loss surgery journey, you must view the video in its entirety. Once the video is complete, you will be asked to fill out a brief form notifying our care team to contact you to discuss next steps.

WATCH VIDEO

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