Gastric bypass surgery: Who is it for?
Gastric bypass surgery: Who is it for?
Gastric bypass surgery is the most common type of weight-loss surgery. Gastric bypass and other types of weight-loss surgery, collectively known as bariatric surgery, make surgical changes to your stomach and digestive system that limit how much food you can eat and how many nutrients you absorb, leading to weight loss.
While that may sound appealing, gastric bypass surgery isn't for everyone. Like any major procedure, it has significant health risks and side effects. In addition, the long-term success of gastric bypass surgery depends on your ability to make permanent changes in your lifestyle. When you want to be considered for gastric bypass surgery, you must undergo a thorough evaluation to determine if it's suitable for your situation.
Guidelines to qualify for gastric bypass surgery
Gastric bypass and other weight-loss surgeries are major, life-changing procedures. While weight-loss surgery can help reduce your risk of weight-related health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep apnea, it can also pose major risks and complications. You may need to meet certain medical guidelines to qualify for weight-loss surgery. You likely will have an extensive screening process to see if you qualify.
In general, gastric bypass and other weight-loss surgery could be an option for you if:
Evaluating if you're ready for gastric bypass surgery
Even if you meet these general guidelines, you still may need to meet certain other medical guidelines to qualify for weight-loss surgery. You likely will have an extensive screening process to see if you qualify.
A team of health professionals — usually including a doctor, dietitian, psychologist and surgeon — evaluate whether gastric bypass or other weight-loss surgery is appropriate for you. This evaluation generally determines if the health benefits of the surgery outweigh the potentially serious risks. The evaluation also determines if you're psychologically and medically ready to undergo the procedure.
When conducting an evaluation for gastric bypass surgery, the health team considers:
If you're approved for gastric bypass surgery, your health care team gives you instructions about how to prepare in the months or weeks before the surgery. These instructions may include restrictions on eating and drinking, undergoing lifestyle counseling to help you cope with big changes in diet and exercise, quitting smoking, and starting a supervised physical activity program. In some cases, you may be required to lose weight before having gastric bypass surgery.
Even after gastric bypass surgery is scheduled, it can be delayed or canceled if your health care team determines that:
Preparing financially for gastric bypass surgery
If it's determined that gastric bypass surgery is appropriate for you, you will still have financial hurdles to negotiate. If you plan to rely on health insurance coverage for your gastric bypass surgery, you likely need to get preapproval from your health insurance company, Medicare or your state medical assistance program — whoever you have insurance through. The preapproval process typically requires documentation from your team of doctors that justifies your medical need for gastric bypass surgery.
Different health insurers have different requirements to prove your medical need for gastric bypass surgery. Your health insurer may not cover gastric bypass surgery at all or may cover only parts of the process. In some cases, you may have to meet requirements, such as losing a specific amount of weight or following a formal diet plan, before your insurance will grant approval. To avoid unpleasant financial surprises, check to see what specific services are covered before starting the evaluation process. You may have to pay for some portion of the costs yourself.
Gastric bypass surgery: Is it for you?
Gastric bypass surgery isn't a miracle procedure — and it isn't for everyone. Having gastric bypass or other weight-loss surgery doesn't guarantee that you'll lose all your excess weight or that you'll keep it off over the long term. Nor is it a way to avoid making changes in your diet and exercise habits. In fact, you can regain the weight you lose with gastric bypass surgery if you don't stick with the lifestyle changes. But if you think gastric bypass surgery might be right for you, talk with your doctor.
Last Updated: 2011-10-06
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