Frequently Asked Questions About Weight Loss Surgery

Who is a candidate for bariatric surgery? 

  • Individuals with a body mass index, or BMI, greater than 40
  • Men who are 100 pounds over their ideal body weight or women who are 80 pounds over their ideal body weight
  • Individuals with a BMI between 35 and 40 who have another condition such as obesity-related type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, heart disease, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol 
  • Individuals who have made serious weight loss attempts with diet and exercise and have failed 

Is weight loss surgery a guarantee for permanent weight loss?

No. Your success will depend on your willingness to follow dietary and exercise guidelines in the months and years following the procedure. Patients with the banding procedure will need frequent adjustment of their bands in order to maximize their weight loss potential. Most gastric bypass patients have rapid weight loss for the first year, then hit a plateau. Patients may regain some of their lost weight if they are not compliant with their diet and exercise program.

Must I be in good health to qualify for the surgery?

Many obese patients are in poor health because of diseases caused by their obesity. These diseases include diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, lung problems and kidney difficulties. Beaumont's team of experts is trained to deal with these conditions before, during and after surgery. Your physician will carefully screen you to be sure you are medically able to undergo general anesthesia and will recover well from surgery.

Will I need any preoperative tests?

All patients are required to take:

  • blood tests
  • an electrocardiogram, or EKG
  • a cardiac stress test
  • a test for the a bacteria known as H. pylori that causes ulcers 

Some patients may require a test for sleep apnea. 

How long does the operation take?

Lap-Band® surgery generally takes approximately 60 minutes, while laparoscopic gastric bypass and gastric sleeve generally take approximately 90 minutes.

How long can I expect to stay in the hospital?

Because 99 percent of surgeries are performed laparoscopically, nearly all of the patients at Beaumont go home within 24 to 48 hours.

When can I expect to return to work and resume a normal lifestyle?

After a laparoscopic procedure, most patients return to work and all levels of pre-surgery activity within six weeks. Some patients are able to return to many normal activities, including work, within a week. It is important to avoid lifting and other activities that stress the abdominal region until cleared by a physician.

Will my insurance cover bariatric surgery?

Most insurance companies cover weight loss surgery providing you meet certain medical criteria. For example, you may be required to provide documentation from your physician of six to 12 months of medically supervised weight loss. Our patient coordinators are experienced in working with insurance companies and will assist you in determining your individual coverage.

What is Beaumont's complication rate?

Our complication rates and mortality rates are well below the national averages. Through 2010,  Beaumont's mortality rate was less than one in 750 patients or 0.14 percent, compared to a national standard of 0.2 percent in expert centers with the lowest mortality rates. Studies have demonstrated that the mortality rate from hospitals with less experience produce higher complication rates than expert centers.

Patients should remember that all surgeries have complication and mortality rates. Also, surgery on obese individuals is inherently high risk. Many of the complications that cause postoperative death are not related specifically to bariatric surgery; rather, they are a function of obesity. 

Research is showing that one year after surgery patients experience significantly improved health benefits. Recent studies are finding a reduced long-term mortality rate among those who have had surgery, indicating that this surgery may be life saving for some in the long run.

What do I do about excess skin after weight loss?

Toning and strength-building exercises may improve cosmetic appearance, but do not guarantee that there will not be excess skin after weight loss is achieved. Plastic surgery consultations are available for those who need to remove excess skin.

Can weight loss surgery be reversed?

Two gastric restrictive operations are potentially reversible. Lap-Band procedures are more easily reversed. Reversal of the gastric bypass procedure is rarely needed and is considered another major procedure. It is important to keep in mind that if you decide to reverse the surgery, you likely will regain the weight you have already lost.

Gastric sleeve surgery is not reversible.

How long should I wait to get pregnant after surgery?

It is strongly recommended that patients wait until weight loss has completely stabilized before getting pregnant. Rapid weight loss is not healthy for a developing fetus.  Women should consult with their physician about their readiness for supporting a healthy pregnancy.

What will I be able to eat?

After surgery, gastric bypass and gastric sleeve patients will be on a clear liquid diet for one day and then transition to full liquids for two weeks. Then they will progress to a pureed food diet for two weeks, then soft foods for two weeks, and then they are ready for a regular diet by week six.

Lap-Band patients will also start on clear liquids for one day, but transition to full liquids for one week. Then they will progress to a pureed food diet for one week, then soft foods for one week and begin regular foods by week four.

Most patients are put on a special diet before surgery to help with weight loss.

With both types of surgery, a patient will be on a lifetime regimen of restricted portion sizes of regular foods, due to the reduced size of the stomach.  Patients are advised to eat four to six smaller meals or snacks spread throughout the day.

With gastric bypass, after one year most patients are able to eat nearly any type of food, but must eat smaller portions.

With Lap-Band, patients must always avoid doughy breads, fibrous foods such as steaks and uncooked vegetables, and sticky foods such as rice.

How do I get more information?

Attend a free seminar on Beaumont's comprehensive bariatric surgery program. For dates and times, please call 888-899-4600 or visit our bariatric surgery seminar page.  Programs are held at:

Weight Control Center
Beaumont Health Center
4949 Coolidge Highway
Royal Oak, between 14 Mile and Maple roads.