Bariatric surgery: Frequently asked questions
If you meet certain requirements and all your attempts at serious weight reduction have failed, you may be a candidate for bariatric surgery, which can help you lose weight, be more active, and regain your health. Community Hospital's program is designed to support you emotionally and physically throughout your entire experience.
The following are some common questions regarding bariatric surgery at Community Hospital. Please consult your doctor with questions regarding your individual condition.
Q: Who qualifies for bariatric surgery?
A: For the most part, we use the guidelines established by the National Institutes of Health, and these are used by most insurance companies as well. In general, patients with a body mass index of between 35 and 40 will qualify if they have 2 severe obesity-related illnesses such as diabetes, sleep apnea, severe hypertension, severe joint disease requiring joint replacement, or heart disease. Those with a body mass index higher than 40 may be considered for surgery without these illnesses. Of course, everyone should have tried to lose weight without surgery first, and the surgery can only be offered to individuals able and willing to follow through with the aftercare that is required.
Q: What weight-loss operations are performed at Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula?
A: The most commonly performed bariatric operations performed at Community Hospital are the laparoscopic gastric bypass sleeve gastrectomy and laparoscopic gastric band (lap band). We are also able to perform laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, though this is not generally covered by insurance. We can perform these operations by open surgery, as well, but our preference is to perform them by laparoscopy whenever possible because the recovery time is so much quicker. We also perform revisional surgery when necessary. We do not perform the duodenal switch procedure or pancreaticobiliary bypass.
Q: Are there age limits?
A: In general, we do not offer the surgery to teens under the age of 15, and very seldom under the age of 18. We do not have an absolute upper age limit for the surgery, but as patients get into their mid 60s, we have to become more careful because the risks of the surgery are considerably greater in this age group.
Q: Does insurance cover the surgery?
A: Bariatric operations are covered by most insurance plans these days, including Medicare. Your individual plan, however, may exclude all such types of surgery, or may impose unique requirements - such as waiting periods - before surgery can be approved.
Q: What is a Center of Excellence?
A: This is a designation given to centers certified by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery or the American College of Surgeons. The distinction is the culmination of a rigorous process that evaluates the surgeons, surgical practices, and hospital facilities, expertise, and outcomes. Community Hospital is a certified Center of Excellence through the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and was one of the first facilities on the West Coast to receive this designation.
This designation is not to be confused with "Center of Expertise," which is the term used by insurance companies to describe a facility to which they may refer patients based on financial contracting.
Q: How long is the typical hospital stay? How long will I be out of work?
A: Our philosophy is that with careful planning and laparoscopic surgery, most patients should be back on their feet quickly. Most patients spend one night in the hospital, and most are back to work within two weeks - some, sooner. Some patients, of course, may require a longer period of observation in the hospital or longer recovery time after surgery.
Q: What kind of follow up is involved after surgery?
A: Patients are followed by the surgeon for a minimum of five years after surgery. In addition, Community Hospital has two free support groups each month run by our dietitians for patients who have had weight-loss surgery. Dietitians are available after surgery as well for one-on-one counseling and for organized classes. Psychological backup is available with experienced healthcare providers. We also have a full complement of other specialists such as endocrinologists, pulmonologists, cardiologists, and plastic surgeons with experience caring for patients who are overweight or who have lost weight.
Q: Where can I find out more about weight-loss surgery at Community Hospital?
A: To learn more about our program, please call (831) 649-7230. In addition, you can learn more about weight-loss surgery in general at the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.