Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Bariatric Surgery

Who is a candidate for bariatric surgery?

You may be a candidate for bariatric surgery if you:

Benefits of bariatric surgery — what are they?

The biggest benefits of bariatric surgery include weight loss and improved health.

Risks of bariatric surgery — what are they?

Risks of bariatric surgery vary by procedure.

Some risks include:

  • Acid reflux
  • Chronic nausea and vomiting
  • Dilation of esophagus
  • Obstruction of stomach

Your bariatric surgeon will review all potential risks and complications with you prior to surgery.

How much weight can I expect to lose after surgery?

It depends on the procedure.

If you have... Then, expect to lose approximately...

laparoscopic adjustable gastric band surgery,

  • 40 to 50 percent of excess body weight over 24 or more months after surgery.
  • Weight loss is slow and gradual.

gastric bypass surgery,

  • 60 to 80 percent of excess body weight within 12 to 18 months after surgery.
  • Weight loss is rapid.

gastric sleeve surgery,

  • 60 to 70 percent of excess body weight within 12 to 18 months.
  • Weight loss is slower than gastric bypass.

Long-term weight stability depends on diet and exercise.

Do insurance companies pay for bariatric surgery?

Most insurance companies cover the costs of laparoscopic adjustable gastric band, gastric sleeve, and gastric bypass surgeries.

Review your insurance policy to see if:

  • It covers weight loss surgery
  • You must meet any additional requirements for coverage

Attend a free bariatric surgery information session to learn more about insurance coverage. Or, see Financial and Insurance Considerations for more information.

What happens during bariatric surgery?

It depends on the procedure.

If you have... Then, the surgeon...
laparoscopic adjustable gastric band surgery, places a thin, inflatable ring around the upper part of your stomach to create a new, smaller stomach pouch.
gastric bypass surgery, divides the stomach into two portions and staples the smaller portion together to make a stomach pouch.
gastric sleeve surgery, removes part of the stomach and creates a new, tube-shaped stomach or "sleeve."

Hospital stay after bariatric surgery — how long is it?

It depends on the procedure.

If you have... Then, the average hospital stay is...
laparoscopic adjustable gastric band surgery, usually one day, including one overnight stay.
gastric bypass surgery, two to three days.
gastric sleeve surgery, two to three days.

What is the recovery time for bariatric surgery?

It depends on the procedure and each individual.

If you have... Then, the average recovery time is...
laparoscopic adjustable gastric band surgery, about 10 days after surgery.
gastric bypass surgery, about two to four weeks after surgery.
gastric sleeve surgery, about two to four weeks after surgery.

Is bariatric surgery reversible?

It depends on the procedure.

If you have... Then,
laparoscopic adjustable gastric band surgery, yes. If problems or complications arise, you can have the band surgically removed.
gastric bypass surgery, in most cases, no. Only a small number of patients with significant long-term complications are considered for a surgical revision.
gastric sleeve surgery, no.

Can I still get pregnant after bariatric surgery?

Obesity can make it difficult for some women to become pregnant, so bariatric surgery can actually help with fertility.

If you want to become pregnant, you should wait until your weight stabilizes — about 18 to 24 months following surgery — because rapid weight loss and nutrition deficiencies can harm a developing fetus.

Diet following bariatric surgery — what's it like?

Will I have problems eating certain foods after surgery?

Intolerance to certain foods varies from person to person.

The most common problem-foods include:

  • Pasta
  • Red meat
  • Soft breads
  • White rice

Excess skin after losing weight — what can I do about it?

If you're concerned about excess skin on your stomach or other areas, plastic surgery is an option.

After you're at a stable weight — about 12 to 18 months following surgery — you should meet with a plastic surgeon to discuss your options and insurance coverage.

UPMC’s Life After Weight Loss program has surgical and nonsurgical options for people following significant weight loss.

Is it possible to regain the weight that I lost?

Absolutely. Bariatric surgery isn't a magic bullet. You can regain the weight you lost, as well as all of the other problems associated with it.

To be successful, you must adopt a lifelong commitment to maintaining a healthy weight through good nutrition and exercise.

UPMC's Bariatric Surgery Program offers post-surgery support and resources to help you adjust to life after weight loss.

How does bariatric surgery work?

A variety of bariatric surgery procedures are available to help patients achieve significant, long-term weight loss. These procedures work by limiting the amount of food a patient can ingest. These procedures either:

Which gastric surgery is best for me?

Only your doctor can help you determine if you’re a good candidate for weight loss surgery and/or what procedure is best for you.

Which bariatric surgery is best for diabetes?

Bypass procedures, including gastric bypass surgery, tend to be the most effective at combating diabetes.

What is post-bariatric surgery?

Your weight loss surgery is just one part of a long journey toward a healthier lifestyle. Post-bariatric surgery, you will need to follow a strict diet and exercise plan to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

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