Published on November 03, 2021

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Your Weight-Loss Surgery Questions, Answered

Weight-loss surgery, also known as bariatric or metabolic surgery, can be a lifesaving option for people who have difficulty losing weight or keeping it off or those with health conditions related to obesity. Tuesday F.A. Cook, MD, a bariatric surgeon with Adventist Medical Group, answers common questions about weight-loss surgery.

Q: How do I know if I’m a candidate?

Dr. Cook: Bariatric surgery is a great option for those struggling to maintain a healthy weight. You may be a candidate if you:

  • Have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater, that is, more than 100 pounds overweight
  • Have a BMI of 35 or more with weight-related conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or sleep apnea
  • Are unable to lose weight and keep it off using diet and exercise

Q: Which surgery is best for me?

Dr. Cook: There are many bariatric surgical options available. The best one for you depends on several factors including your medical history and behavioral patterns. The most frequently performed are:

  • Sleeve gastrectomy: Approximately 80% of your stomach is removed. There are no alterations to your small intestine. This restricts the amount of food you can eat at once, making you feel full sooner. Hormonal changes also occur that assist in weight loss.
  • Roux-en-Y gastric bypass: This involves dividing the stomach and small intestine. Food will bypass a portion of the stomach and small bowel, causing metabolic changes. Your body will also absorb fewer calories from the food you eat.
  • Adjustable gastric band: A small, adjustable silicone band is placed around the upper part of the stomach, making you feel full after a small amount of food. Together, you and your surgeon will decide on the type of operation that’s best for you.

Q: What can I expect after surgery?

Dr. Cook: After the operation, you could spend one to two days in the hospital and will have minimal pain. You must follow a specific, gradually advanced diet and exercise program at home. We teach this before surgery. I form a lifelong relationship with my patients and see them regularly after surgery to ensure that they are doing well. Surgery is the first step of a lifetime journey.

Q: How much weight will I lose?

Dr. Cook: The amount of weight a person loses will vary. Your doctor can help you understand what you can expect depending on your starting weight and the type of surgery performed. It’s important to remember that the operation is only a tool, and a healthy diet and regular exercise are needed to ensure lasting success. Close follow-up with your surgeon is also key.

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