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Bariatric Surgery FAQs

What is bariatric surgery?

Bariatric surgery is a procedure designed to make the stomach smaller so the patient feels satisfied with less food. It is intended for people who are 100 pounds or more overweight (with a Body Mass Index of 40 or greater) and who have not had success with other weight loss therapies such as diet, exercise, medications, etc. A person with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 35 or greater and one or more co-morbid condition also may qualify for bariatric surgery.

What is Body Mass Index (BMI)?

BMI is a measure used to index a person s height and weight. BMI allows healthcare professionals and patients to better understand health issues associated with a specific weight classification (classifications such as obesity and morbid obesity).

What is a co-morbid condition?

There are two definitions for a co-morbid condition: the presence of one or more disorder or disease in addition to a primary disorder or disease; or, the presence of a disorder or disease that is caused by or otherwise related to another condition in the same patient. The primary disease of morbid obesity can lead to several co-morbid conditions.

What are the complications and risks associated with bariatric surgery?

As with any surgery, there are immediate and long-term complications and risks. Possible risks can include, but are not limited to:

  • Bleeding
  • Complications due to anesthesia and medications
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Dehiscence (separation of areas that are stitched or stapled together)
  • Infections
  • Leaks from staple lines
  • Marginal ulcers
  • Pulmonary problems
  • Spleen injury
  • Stenosis (narrowing of a passage, such as a valve)
  • Death

What are the possible side effects of bariatric surgery?

Side effects include:

  • Vomiting
  • Dumping syndrome
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Gallstones
  • Need to avoid pregnancy temporarily
  • Nausea, vomiting, bloating, diarrhea, excessive sweating, increased gas, and dizziness

What is the difference between laparoscopic, or minimally invasive surgery, and an open procedure?

Open surgery involves the surgeon creating a long incision to open the abdomen and operating with "traditional medical instruments. Laparoscopic, or minimally invasive, surgery is an approach that allows the surgeon to perform the same procedure using several small incisions, a fiber-optic camera, video monitor, and long-handled instruments

Why would I have an open procedure?

The decision to perform minimally invasive or open surgery is made by your surgeon before the operation. For some patients, the laparoscopic, or minimally invasive, technique cannot be used due to dense scar tissue from prior abdominal surgery. Also, the inability to see organs and/or bleeding during the operation can cause your surgeon to switch from minimally invasive to open surgery during your operation.

Do I qualify for insurance?

Because every insurance policy is unique, it's important that you call your insurance carrier to verify coverage.

How long do I have to stay in the hospital?

It varies from person to person. Generally, the hospital stay can be two to three days depending on procedure.

After surgery, what support will I receive in adjusting to new daily habits?

Support groups give patients an excellent opportunity to talk about challenges. Most bariatric surgeons who frequently perform bariatric surgery will tell you that ongoing support after surgery helps to achieve the greatest level of success for their patients. Patients help keep each other motivated, celebrate small victories together, and provide perspective on the everyday successes and challenges that patients generally experience. Call 614-234-LIFE for information.

What is the long-term success of bariatric surgery?

For people suffering from morbid obesity, bariatric surgery can be a powerful tool. For the surgery to be effective long term, it must be used properly. Through lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise and a healthy food plan, many patients are able to make a long-term change for better health.

What is the long-term follow-up schedule?

Frequent follow-up for the first two years after surgery is necessary. Patients typically see their surgeons at 7-10days, 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, one year, 18 months and 24 months and annually thereafter. Patients will need regular checks for anemia (low red blood cell count) and vitamin B12, folate, and iron levels. Follow-up is necessary and is tracked by our accrediting program.


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Mount Carmel Health System  |  Columbus, Ohio

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