Bariatric surgery can be ideal for patients struggling with weight loss who are also looking to lower their risk for diabetes, improve their cardiovascular health, ease the pressure on their joints, and address other weight-related health problems. Often, bariatric surgery is for people who have not lost weight through the traditional means of diet and exercise and need a more permanent solution.
If you’re looking for weight loss surgery in Anderson, AnMed Health uses the latest surgical techniques and most effective procedures to minimize any scarring or blood loss. We implement every measure to speed up your recovery process, and we also offer nutritional advice that will give you a head start toward a lifetime of healthy eating habits. Our certified bariatric nurses and trained doctors will be there throughout your weight loss journey to make it as successful as possible.
What is bariatric surgery?
Bariatric surgery is a way to limit how much you eat and/or change how your body absorbs nutrients. Weight-loss surgery is designed for people who struggle with obesity.
Anything from genetics to your environment can have an effect on the body’s metabolism.
If people cannot lose weight or maintain a healthy weight through traditional diet and exercise, bariatric surgery may be a solution. This is especially true for obese patients who are at risk for other health complications, like a heart attack or stroke, due to their weight.
Bariatric surgery was created as a long-term solution to weight loss that physically alters the body so it’s harder to keep weight on. While there are different kinds of bariatric surgeries, all are similar in that they restrict the amount of food that the stomach can hold
Types of weight loss surgery
Every patient has a unique medical history, which is why there are several bariatric procedures available. Some techniques will adjust how your body processes particles of food, making it possible to quickly pass through you without allowing fat to form. Other weight loss solutions focus on the size of your stomach, making it impossible to take in more than just a few bites of food. Surgeons make recommendations based on everything from your goal body weight to whether you’ve had stomach surgery in the past.
The goal of gastric bypass surgery is to shrink the size of your stomach. That way, instead of being able to hold pints of food, as you normally would be able to, you’ll only be able to hold an ounce before you feel full. This type of surgery also changes how the small intestine and stomach digest the foods you eat. The surgeon will essentially wall off certain parts of the body, so calories can’t be absorbed the way they normally would. So not only are you full faster, the foods you do enjoy won’t have the same effect on your body.
Gastric bypass consists of two major steps. The first one divides your stomach using stables. This creates a small and large section. The smaller section on top will be where your food goes. From there, the surgeon links a tiny part of the small intestine to the upper section of the stomach. The food that is consumed will travel through the stomach into the small intestine, making for a quicker digestion process. The body doesn’t have the chance to absorb as many calories. This gives the person even better odds of keeping the weight off after losing it.
With a sleeve gastrectomy, the surgeon will eliminate anywhere from 75% – 90% of the stomach, leaving a stomach that’s smaller and size similar to the size and shape of a banana. If you choose this option, you’ll retain the sleeve of the stomach that connects it to the intestines. Sleeve gastrectomy is usually done as a laparoscopic procedure, though some surgeons may perform an open version.
The surgeon will first divide the blood vessels of the stomach before inserting a tube to determine the right size of the stomach. They’ll use a stapler to divide a large section of the stomach and then remove it completely.
This procedure doesn’t change how your body processes nutrients, meaning you’ll still digest food the same as before the treatment. Your actual digestion will likely be faster than before, as sleeve gastrectomies increase motility, but you won’t sacrifice any minerals and vitamins along the way.
The reduction of stomach volume ensures that you’ll feel full faster, much like the gastric bypass. However, there are also hormonal changes that occur after sleeve gastrectomies, with the body secreting fewer chemicals that make you feel hungry.
Revisional bariatric surgery is the process of fixing a past bariatric operation. This happens when the first surgery was unsuccessful in helping the patient lose weight, if there were complications with the surgery requiring alterations, or if the patient experiences extreme side effects.
Patients might suffer from nutritional deficiencies, chronic stomach ulcers or excessive diarrhea. In some cases, the patient just might not lose as much weight as they anticipated. In others, they might sustain internal organ damage or partially open staples.
If you’ve experienced serious complications after bariatric surgery, this could be a way to reverse the problems and improve your quality of life.
When is bariatric surgery needed?
Bariatric surgery is usually recommended if the patient meets a few different criteria.
First, bariatric surgery is often recommended for people facing serious health conditions, such as Type II diabetes, sleep apnea, heart disease, or chronic pain, as a result of being overweight or obese. The goal is to help the patient lose weight so that the other health risks that are contingent on excessive weight will subside.
Second, patients are generally required to have a body mass index of 40 or higher, or 35 or higher when accompanied by a weight-related health problem (e.g., diabetes, etc.). In rarer cases, those with BMIs as low as 30 may still be eligible if they can show they have serious health problems due to their weight. Teenagers may be eligible for this surgery, but they must have already gone through puberty to qualify.
All patients must show that they have tried to lose weight through standard diet and exercise. Your medical team of surgeons, nurses, and nutritionists will comb through your history, looking at everything from your weight trends to your exercise routine to your emotional stress levels. Your medical team will also take into account your family history, why you want the procedure, and your personal health risks.
You’ll undergo a series of assessments — examining everything from your motivations to your blood pressure — to make sure you are a good candidate for the surgery itself and the post-surgery life changes you’ll need to make. If you’re approved, you can expect support from your team to get you ready for the procedure.
Weight loss surgery risks
Like with any surgery, there is a range of risks associated with bariatric surgery that vary in severity. General risks of bariatric procedures include acid reflux, infection, chronic nausea, and the inability to eat certain foods after the surgery. You might also experience dumping syndrome which causes a range of symptoms (e.g., diarrhea, light-headedness, nausea) when the body tries to eliminate food quickly.
Other potential complications include:
● Low blood sugar
● Stomach/bowel obstruction
● Cardiac problems
● Organ injury
● Blood clots
The associated risks will also have a lot to with which surgery you choose. Your doctor will be able to give you more details on how the procedure is likely to affect your body, what kinds of steps they’re taking to mitigate the risks, and whether it’s worth taking the chance.
Doctors will go through a final assessment right before surgery to ensure that you’re physically and mentally ready for the procedure. It is possible for the surgery to be canceled at the last moment if the surgeon determines that the risks outweigh the rewards.
Success rate of weight loss surgery
The success rates of bariatric surgery are generally defined by whether the patient loses at least 50% of their excess weight and keeps the weight off for five years or more. According to this metric, about 75% of patients do manage to achieve this goal. There is no set time frame for how much weight a patient will lose year one, two, or three after the surgery, every individual is different. However, losing weight and keeping it off is more successful if the patient fully embraces a new, healthy lifestyle after surgery.
As patients start to lose weight, they may notice other improvements in their body and overall health after bariatric surgery. Patients can experience everything from back pain relief to improved mental states. Many are able to eliminate the need for medication for diabetes, even if they haven’t met the expected weight-loss numbers. Success will look different for every patient, so it helps to keep the big picture in the back of your mind before you decide whether this is the right path for you.
Weight loss surgery usually fails when a patient hasn’t corrected their relationship with food. If the mental and emotional behaviors that led to the weight gain are not corrected, then they’re likely to manifest in the same consequences. While bariatric surgery shrinks the stomach, it can eventually begin to expand again if the patient resumes overeating.
How much does weight loss surgery cost?
When it comes to the cost of bariatric surgery, pricing ranges anywhere from $15,000 to $25,000 or more. The actual costs of weight loss surgery depend on the type of procedure that you choose. It will also depend on if your insurance will cover some or all of the procedure.
The full scope of the treatment cost covers more than just a one-time procedure. The costs of weight loss surgery can encompass a number of different services both before, during, and after the procedure. For example, you might meet with a nutrition consultant or psychotherapist. The extensive evaluation procedures all require the aid of a variety of staff members. Patients might also require multiple follow-up appointments to assess both their physical and mental state.
Depending on your insurance policy, weight loss surgery may be fully or partially covered. More and more insurance organizations, including Medicaid, are starting to recognize the benefits of weight-loss surgery for overall health and wellness. The most common types of surgery covered are lap gastric bands, sleeves, and gastric bypass.
If you’re not covered, consider changing your policy if you’re committed to the procedure. If you’re insured through your employer, a few questions to HR can tell you more about whether they offer a different plan where this life-changing procedure will be covered.
There are also medical loans and payment plans that might make it easier to cover the costs of surgery if your insurance does not cover bariatric surgery.
If you are considering weight loss surgery in Anderson, the team at AnMed Health will walk you through all of the financial costs so you know what to expect. Our team will also help you navigate your payment options, including insurance coverage and any out-of-pocket costs, so you are fully informed.
Preparing for weight loss surgery
The best way to initially prepare for weight loss surgery is to be as informed as possible. From books to websites to conversations with your doctor, this will be the key to helping you make the right decision. You can also join in-person or online support groups to listen to the stories of others who have had weight loss surgery or are considering it. It’s not uncommon for patients to take 6 months to a year to gather the information and talk with their doctors before the actual surgery itself happens.
You will also typically be asked to have a pre-surgery consultation at the start of the weight loss journey. This often involves a doctor and a psychologist who will help you determine if you're a good candidate. They'll go over the different procedures, discuss potential complications, and address any specific challenges that you might face based on your medical history. You can ask any questions that you may have arisen during your own research.
Once you’ve decided to proceed with the weight loss surgery, the best way to prepare is to listen to your doctor.
Common homework before you’re prepped for surgery includes giving up all nicotine and tobacco. Some places will require you to refrain from using any of these products for several months before the surgery takes place. You need to take these requirements seriously. Cheating during this time period could result in a cancellation of the surgery.
During this time, doctors will also ask you to make changes to your diet, adding in more protein and cutting out any processed foods that are high in calories and low in nutrition. This also goes for high caloric beverages as well, like soda and juice. Doctors recommend giving yourself at least a four-hour cushion between after you eat and when you go to bed. You may be encouraged to start keeping a food journal to identify any negative eating patterns or comfort foods.
Doctors will also recommend adding more low-impact exercise to your routine, such as walking or light yoga, and then gradually increasing your level of activity every day. You should not be gaining any more weight before the surgery.
As the days get closer to the surgery date, the instructions from your doctor will become even more specific. The week before the operation, you’ll be advised to avoid taking any kinds of blood thinners (e.g., aspirin, etc.). Some doctors will ask you to stop the course of any supplements as well.
Getting additional support — It’s common for a patient’s medical team to recommend that they join a support group, often supplying patients with a list of online or in-person options. Because weight loss is a journey that impacts your mental wellbeing as well as your physical, support groups can be key to an individual’s success. They’re a source for support, inspiration, and best-practice sharing. Some people might join a weight-loss program, such as Weight Watchers. Others might join groups like Overeaters Anonymous. There are even groups specifically for those who've undergone bariatric surgery.
What to expect
Leading up to your bariatric surgery appointment, you should expect multiple appointments so your medical team fully understands your medical history and can help build a plan for your future wellness goals.
Right before weight loss surgery, you’ll have a final appointment with your medical team to review the steps of the procedure and steps that you’ll take directly afterward. Your doctor may order additional tests to ensure you are physically ready to handle the surgery.
In the 24-48 hours before the surgery, patients are generally restricted to a diet of clear liquids.
When the weight loss procedure begins, you will need to undergo anesthesia. You will be unconscious for the entire surgery and may experience short-term side effects, such as nausea, sore throat, confusion, muscle aches, itching, or chills. In extremely rare cases, anesthesia can result in confusion or memory loss that can last for several days. The anesthesiologist will take into account your individual risks and adjust as needed.
Immediately after surgery, your medical team will monitor you for signs of dehydration, blood clots, or low blood sugar. You might be restricted to a liquid diet in the first few weeks, which typically results in rapid weight loss at first.
The average person loses around a fifth of the excess weight within the first 10 weeks. Patients generally lose 60 – 70% of the excess weight within the first year. So if a patient was 300 pounds and 150 was considered excess weight, then they would likely lose about 30 pounds by the three-month mark and around 100 pounds by the time their one-year surgery anniversary rolls around. However, individual results vary though based on everything from body chemistry to health conditions to lifestyle. As your body and diet begin to adjust to the new conditions, your rate of weight loss will be more gradual. It’s especially critical to keep up with healthy habits at this point.
Recovering from weight loss surgery
After weight loss surgery, most patients will be in the hospital between 2 – 5 days to recover, but this could be longer if you experience any complications. Those with open surgeries will usually have a longer hospital stay than those who undergo laparoscopic procedures. It’s important to alert the staff of any potential symptoms, such as nausea or shortness of breath, even if they seem innocuous or are brief incidents. These issues are often a normal response to the surgery, but they may also indicate that something went wrong with the surgery.
To speed up the recovery process, you should be promoting your circulation whenever possible. This can be done by simply standing up and moving around as soon as you’re able after the operation. Regular motion reduces your odds of clot formation and encourages your body to heal faster. While the initial movement will likely be uncomfortable at first, the pain should lessen with each passing day. Your medical team can give you some helpful tips for pain management if you need it.
Once you leave the hospital, you’ll continue the recovery process at home. Most patients take it easy for the first few weeks but are expected to increase activity without putting their body in danger. Weight loss patients will also need to monitor and care for the incision site to prevent infection.
You can expect many follow-up appointments with your medical team post-surgery to ensure you are recovering well and that your vitals and weight loss patterns are healthy.
Life after weight loss surgery
New diet plan
Your life after weight-loss surgery will begin by reintroducing foods into your diet. You’ll transition from a liquid diet to soft foods and eventually regular foods. However, once you return to eating regular foods, your diet will be much smaller, about a quarter of what it was before the weight loss surgery.
During the first 1-2 weeks post-surgery, you’ll stick to a clear liquid diet. Then in weeks 3-4, you can begin introducing pureed food and begin adding supplements. With your new restricted diet, doctors will recommend that you start taking additional nutrients and supplements including Calcium, Vitamin B12, Iron, and Vitamin D to make sure your body is getting the nutrients it needs.
During months 2-3 after surgery, you can begin introducing soft foods that are gentle on the stomach, and finally, in month 4, you can go back to eating three balanced meals a day with calorie-free liquid in between meals.
As the weight begins to fall off, you should opt for high-protein food. The recommended amount is usually anywhere between 60 and 100 grams. Just as before the surgery, you should be limiting the number of refined carbs, processed foods, and anything high in added sugar. You’re usually asked to refrain from (at least severely limit) your caffeine intake for at least 30 days after the surgery.
Immediately after bariatric surgery, some patients report a loss of appetite or that food has lost its flavor. Others report feeling sick at the smell of specific foods. This can happen when the body metabolizes fat at a faster rate and produces ketone bodies. These are biochemicals produced during periods of lower food intake and are used for energy. Patients should eat what makes them comfortable and know that loss of appetite, dissatisfaction with food, or feeling sick from food aromas should subside in a few days.
Weight-loss surgery may also have an effect on your medication regimen. Many patients find that they no longer have to take as many medications as they did before their surgery. If they do have to continue taking medication, they may not require as much of it. For instance, you might need less insulin to control your diabetes. After surgery, many patients find that chewable, liquid, or crushed medications are easier alternatives to full-sized pills.
As you build up your strength after the surgery, you should be able to engage in a number of athletic activities around six weeks after the weight loss procedure. However, walking a few minutes each day as soon as you are able is highly recommended. During your routine follow-up appointments, you will have a chance to consult with your doctor before you engage in any motion that will strain your abdomen. To keep your body as fit as possible, experts recommend around 2.5 hours of moderate exercise each week.
Typically, doctors do not recommend that bariatric surgery patients consume alcohol, which is low in nutrients but high in calories. Patients may find that their bodies absorb alcohol more quickly following gastric bypass or gastric sleeve surgery.
A common side effect of successful weight loss is excess skin or skin that hangs loosely from the body. Many patients will go on to have plastic surgery to remove the excess skin to feel more comfortable or less self-conscious.
Bariatric surgery at AnMed Health
Our bariatric surgeons
The bariatric procedures our world-class surgeons offer are completed by board-certified experts who care about the long-term wellness of their patients. To reduce the odds of complications of bariatric surgery, our team at AnMed Health considers every possible strategy to protect patients from any unnecessary distress or discomfort. We know how difficult it can be to embark on such a life-changing path, which is why our surgeons remain empathetic and understanding at every step of the way.
Why AnMed Health
At AnMed Health, we offer a variety of weight loss surgeries in Anderson, including sleeve gastrectomy, and gastric bypass. We can also coordinate revisional surgery to correct any issues that the patient has experienced from prior procedures, whether done at AnMed Health or at another hospital. As with every treatment we offer, our team is here to address all of your concerns.
In 2016, AnMed Health was certified by the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP). This nationally recognized program is designed to ensure that patients receive the highest standards of safety and care and that weight loss programs offer multidisciplinary services, such as nutritional counseling and psychological support.
Our weight loss clinic in Anderson is backed by a team of dedicated and experienced surgeons that provide best-in-class care to our patients. Here, you’ll find the supportive and knowledgeable medical professionals you need for a successful weight loss journey.
If you think weight loss surgery may be an option for you, set up a consultation today.