Catawba Valley Medical Center



The following are some of the most common questions about weight-loss surgery. Catawba Valley Medical Center Surgical Weight Management Center hosts informative bimonthly seminars to answer your questions and introduce you to people who have undergone weight-loss surgery. Click here to view our upcoming information seminars and to register.  

What health issues can weight loss surgery help to resolve?

Health issues that often improve following weight loss include diabetes, heart disease, gastro esophageal reflux disease, sleep apnea, respiratory insufficiency, high cholesterol and weight-induced arthritis. 

Will insurance cover surgery?

Coverage depends on your individual insurance plan. You can learn more about working with your insurance company at our information session. If you do not have insurance coverage, you can learn more about your options as a self-pay patient.     

How soon will I start to lose weight?

You will start losing weight immediately after surgery but you may not notice any loss until the 2nd week. Weight loss after the band is more gradual and constant, approximately 1-2 lbs per week. The weight loss after gastric bypass and the sleeve gastrectomy is initially rapid, with a slowing about 9 months after surgery. At the 6 week follow-up visit, we typically see around a 20 pound weight loss. This depends on how much the starting weight was. The heavier the starting weight, the more weight that is lost.

How much weight can I expect to lose?

Results depend on your motivation and cooperation with the program, but generally, most patients will lose 50 to 70 percent of their excess body weight; some patients can lose more. 

Can I regain weight?

The gastric band provides a constant restriction, however you have more control of your weight loss. If you resort to taking in soft sweets such as chocolate, ice cream or drinks with high calorie liquids, you will regain the weight.

With the gastric bypass and the sleeve gastrectomy, weight-loss continues up to 18 months and then plateaus. Depending on the size of the stomach pouch and the type of food eaten, some patients can experience a 20 to 30 pound weight regain after 2 years. That is why it is very important that you use the stomach pouch as a tool, and follow the instructions given to you by the dietitian on how and what to eat.

Is it possible for me to get to thin?

It is unusual for a person to become too thin after bariatric surgery. These operations still allow you to ingest and absorb a sufficient amount of calories (about 1000-1500) so that you do not become too thin. With time, you will be able to eat more than you were able to immediately after surgery.

With the band, once you reach your target weight you will not need further adjustments.

How long will I be in the hospital?

Although each individual is different, most gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy patients remain in the hospital for 1 to 2 days after surgery. Gastric banding patients may go home the same day or the following day.  

When can I drive?

You may resume driving in one week following surgery as long as your have been off your narcotic pain medication for 24 hours. The first week or so after surgery, you may still feel pretty sore across the abdomen and that may impede your ability to brake quickly or suddenly.    

How long before I can return to work?

The answer to this question is, it depends. It depends on the procedure you have and the type of work that you do. If you have a relatively sedentary job and do not do a lot of heavy lifting (greater than thirty pounds), you are usually able to return to work within one to two weeks of surgery. If you have a more physical job, then you may need to be off as long as 4-6 weeks.  

Will I require vitamin supplements after weight loss surgery?

Patients undergoing bariatric surgery will require a daily vitamin supplement for the rest of their lives.

What is “dumping syndrome?”

Eating simple sugars (such as sugar, honey, and corn syrup) or high-fat foods can cause dumping syndrome in patients who have had gastric bypass surgery. This occurs when these products are “dumped” from the stomach into the intestine at a rapid rate. Water is pulled into the intestine from the blood stream to dilute the sugar load. This flush of water causes symptoms that can include diarrhea, rapid heart rate, hot flashes or sweating and clammy skin, and dizziness.   

Can I get pregnant after bariatric surgery?

Most doctors recommend that women wait at least 18 months after the surgery before a pregnancy. Approximately 18 months post-operation, your body should be fairly stable (from a weight and nutrition standpoint), and you should be able to carry a normally nourished fetus. Consult your surgeon as you plan for pregnancy.

If you have the gastric band, all that needs to be done is have some or all of the fluid removed to allow you to take in enough nutrition during your pregnancy. After delivery, the band can be tightened accordingly.

Will I need plastic surgery after my weight loss surgery?

After a large amount of weight loss, you may find yourself with excess skin in various places. Some people find the excess skin a nuisance or cosmetically unappealing, others do not. ?Weight loss after surgery continues for about 18-24 months. After that time, plastic surgery may be an option. This is typically performed by a plastic surgeon experienced in this field. The plastic surgeon will evaluate you and decide with you what areas need “tightening” up. Unfortunately, this is cosmetic surgery and not covered by insurance, however, there are many plastic surgeons that are flexible and may offer a discount or work out a payment schedule with you.

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