Frequently Asked Questions

Common Questions and Concerns about Bariatric Surgery

Am I a candidate for bariatric (weight loss) surgery?
Am I a "high risk" bariatric surgery candidate?
How do I schedule an appointment to see a surgeon?
What tests are needed before surgery?
How long will I be in the hospital after surgery?
What about pregnancy after bariatric surgery?
What medicines do I have to take after bariatric surgery?
What will my diet be like after I have healed from surgery?
How much weight will I lose after bariatric surgery?
Can I regain the weight I will lose after surgery?
Can I drink alcohol after bariatric surgery?
Can I use tobacco after bariatric surgery?
How long does it take to schedule surgery?
Do you remove the gallbladder during surgery?
Should I exercise after surgery?
Can I have my surgery done laparoscopically?
Will I lose my hair after surgery?
Will I need plastic surgery after my weight loss?
I had bariatric surgery already but have regained the weight. Can I have another surgery?
What is pre-operative nutrition?
What should I do before surgery?
What is post-operative nutrition?
What types of foods will I NOT be able to eat after surgery?
What is dumping syndrome?
When do I stop taking my vitamin and mineral supplements?

Am I a candidate for bariatric (weight loss) surgery?

You may be a candidate for bariatric surgery if at least one of the following conditions applies to you:

  • Your body mass index (BMI) is over 40. Calculate your BMI
  • Your BMI is 35 or above AND you have medical problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea or arthritis.

We generally evaluate those between the ages of 18 and 65. You must have a history of weight loss attempts with diet and exercise. You must also have the support of your primary care physician.

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Am I a "high risk" bariatric surgery candidate?

There are many factors that go into deciding who is a good candidate for bariatric surgery. Based on a thorough evaluation, the bariatric team at Jeanes will ultimately decide whether bariatric surgery is a viable option for you.

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How do I schedule an appointment to see a surgeon?

Call 215-728-CARE (2273) and tell the Jeanes Call Center representative that you are interested in bariatric surgery and would like to attend a free informational seminar or make an appointment with a bariatric surgeon at Jeanes. The representative will register you for a seminar or make the appointment for you. The representative will also send you information about our Bariatric Program.

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What tests are needed before surgery?

During the evaluation period and prior to surgery, you will undergo various tests, including blood, GI, cardiac and pulmonary tests. These tests vary by patient and will be determined by your surgeon following your initial consultation at Jeanes. The bariatric surgery team would be happy to help you set up the tests that you will need.

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How long will I be in the hospital after surgery?

It depends on the procedure. Laparoscopic banding patients usually return home the day after surgery. Laparoscopic gastric bypass patients usually return home on the second day after surgery. Open incision gastric bypass patients usually return home from the second to the fourth day after surgery.

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What about pregnancy after bariatric surgery?

We strongly recommend that you do not become pregnant for 12 to 18 months after surgery. A reliable method of birth control should be used during this time. It is important to note that a woman may become more fertile as she loses weight. If you do become pregnant after bariatric surgery, it is very important that you take the proper amount of vitamins and minerals, and are monitored by the bariatric team at Jeanes and by your obstetrician.

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What medicines do I have to take after bariatric surgery?

After surgery, you will take multivitamins and calcium every day. Women who have not yet reached menopause may need to take iron supplements. You will take vitamin B12 at least once a week by mouth or you may prefer to have a monthly injection.

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What will my diet be like after I have healed from surgery?

Since you will have a small stomach pouch, you should eat about four ounces (about half a cup) of food at a meal and eat in a regular pattern of three meals a day. You should eat proteins first and then vegetables and fruits. You should drink water or non-calorie-containing liquids and avoid carbonated beverages. Do not drink liquids with your meals, since this can make the pouch empty more quickly and make you feel hungry too soon. Snack between meals on foods that are low in calories.

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How much weight will I lose after bariatric surgery?

The average weight loss after a gastric bypass is from 50 to 75 percent of excess body weight. This weight loss occurs over the first 12 to 14 months after surgery. The average weight loss after gastric banding is from 40 to 60 percent of excess body weight. This weight loss occurs over a two to three year period after surgery.

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Can I regain the weight I will lose after surgery?

Yes, you can regain some of the weight you lose after surgery. Your own behavior - including what you eat, how often you eat and how much you exercise - is important to your overall result. We emphasize that the surgical procedure is a tool which, when used properly, usually produces good results. The surgical procedure does not automatically make you thinner. You should continue to follow-up with your  weight-loss team on a long-term basis.

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Can I drink alcohol after bariatric surgery?

We recommend that you do not drink alcohol on a regular basis. Alcohol can cause marginal ulcers in your stomach pouch, which could cause bleeding.

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Can I use tobacco after bariatric surgery?

We strongly recommend that you stop smoking before your surgical procedure and that you do not start again after surgery.

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How long does it take to schedule surgery?

The time from initial consultation to surgery varies but generally can range from one month to several months. During this time period, you will need to submit specific documentation to your insurance company. Since every company is different, you should check with yours to determine what it requires. During this period, you will also be thoroughly evaluated to ensure that bariatric surgery is right for you. In every case, we attempt to expedite this process but please know that this evaluation process varies by individual and is important to ensure maximum patient safety.

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Do you remove the gallbladder during surgery?

If you do not have any gallstones, we usually do not remove the gallbladder during your bariatric surgery. If you do have gallstones, you and your surgeon will discuss treatment options.

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Should I exercise after surgery?

Taking positive steps toward being physically fit can help speed your journey to the "new you". Our exercise physiologist will teach you to develop good health habits and to exercise in a way that is safe for you. We recommend resistance exercises combined with a cardiovascular workout, which will improve your strength and endurance by building and retaining lean muscle mass.

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Can I have my surgery done laparoscopically?

Nearly all gastric band procedures are done laparoscopically, unless your surgical team finds that the condition of your abdomen, liver or stomach is unsuitable for this approach.

Many of the gastric bypass procedures are done laparoscopically. For some patients, however, an open incision for this procedure may be safer. Your surgical team will discuss the risks and benefits of a laparoscopic or an open incisional approach with you.

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Will I lose my hair after surgery?

Some temporary hair thinning may occur during periods of rapid weight loss. This may begin several months after gastric bypass surgery and continue for several months. If you develop hair thinning, your hair should re-grow when your weight stabilizes. You can help this process by avoiding hair treatments and maintaining your protein intake. Biotin and zinc supplements may also be helpful.

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Will I need plastic surgery after my weight loss?

We recommend that you wait until your weight stabilizes before having plastic surgery. Your surgical team can discuss the likelihood of you needing plastic surgery before your bariatric procedure.

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I had bariatric surgery already but have regained the weight. Can I have another surgery?

"Redo" surgery is possible, but not everyone should have it. The risks are greater than the first time the procedure was performed. The Jeanes bariatric team will look carefully at your individual situation and make recommendations to you. Since what you eat, how much you eat and how you exercise plays such an important part in your overall weight loss, you must do your part as well. Redo surgery may be considered if you are following the recommended diet and exercise plan and you are still having problems with weight loss.

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What is pre-operative nutrition?

You will receive the Jeanes Bariatric Informational Handbook at our educational class. The handbook includes diet information, weight loss surgery descriptions and what to expect during and after your hospital stay.

You will then meet with the Jeanes dietitian for a nutritional assessment and individualized diet instruction. Your weight and diet history and food intake patterns will be reviewed. Your body measurements and weight will be taken. Bring any supplements that you are taking with you. This is the ideal time to ask questions so be sure to read the handbook and write down your questions before the meeting.

You should not gain weight before surgery. We prefer that you begin to lose weight before your surgery and change your diet in accordance with your dietitian’s recommendations. Weight loss before surgery will help the surgical team perform your procedure as safely as possible.

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What should I do before surgery?

It depends on the procedure. Laparoscopic banding patients usually return home the day after surgery. Laparoscopic gastric bypass patients usually return home on the second day after surgery. Open incision gastric bypass patients usually return home from the second to the fourth day after surgery.

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What is post-operative nutrition?

During your hospital stay, the Jeanes dietitian will again review your diet with you so bring your handbook to the hospital.

After surgery, you will follow a liquid diet. Any liquids containing sugar, carbonation (soda) and caffeine must be avoided. You will add protein-based liquids to your diet, then pureed foods and gradually incorporate foods with texture. The length of time of the diet progression varies but most people are eating small amounts of soft (non-blended) foods by week four or five. Weight loss surgery restricts the amount of food that you can eat at one time. It is vital that you eat nutritional foods after surgery to help heal the incision and maintain your health. You will need to supplement your diet with protein, vitamins and minerals. Supplemental requirements vary and are tailored to each individual’s needs. Your dietitian will determine the supplements appropriate for you and provide a list of products from which to choose.

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What types of foods will I NOT be able to eat after surgery?

Neither gastric bypass nor banding surgery by itself will cure obesity. An important first step in your weight loss journey is to develop a healthy lifestyle before surgery. The following guidelines should be incorporated immediately:

  • Reduce or avoid soda (even diet soda), all beverages should be calorie-free
  • Eat less fried foods, added fats and high-fat fast foods
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables
  • Increase your awareness of your eating patterns and behaviors
  • Chew your foods thoroughly and eat meals slowly
  • If you eat in response to boredom, find alternative activities to occupy your time

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What is dumping syndrome?

Dumping syndrome is a result of the rapid passage of food into the small intestines. It is caused by eating sweets; fried, fatty or greasy foods; eating too much at one meal; or drinking fluids with your meals. Symptoms include cramping, sweating, flushed appearance, dizziness, weakness, headache and eventually diarrhea. The best way to avoid dumping syndrome is to follow our dietary guidelines.

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When do I stop taking my vitamin and mineral supplements?

Never. It is critical that you take your supplements for the rest of your life. You will need to have your blood checked several times in the first year and every year thereafter to make sure you are absorbing your vitamins and minerals adequately.

Our objective is to help you achieve your weight loss goals in the healthiest way possible. Bariatric surgery requires a lifelong commitment to follow dietary guidelines, a vitamin and mineral supplement regime and lifestyle changes. Additionally, you must follow-up with the bariatric team at Jeanes at least once a year to check your health.

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To register for a free informational seminar or to make an appointment for a consultation with a bariatric surgeon at Jeanes, click here or call 215-728-CARE (2273).

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