Bariatric Surgery: Types,Cost,Risks

Weight loss surgery is also called bariatric surgery, gastric banding, bypass surgery, and obesity surgery. Extreme obesity is a real and very dangerous problem, so bariatric surgery helps people who deal with it to lose weight. It can be lifesaving, however you have to be really dedicated to making permanent and dramatic changes to how you live, eat, and exercise. Many people who have the bariatric surgery lose weight rapidly, but regain some of it later on. Anyone who decides for this surgery, needs to follow exercise recommendations and diet, and in this way will probably keep most of his weight off, but will need medical follow-up for the rest of his life as well.


Am I a Candidate for a Bariatric Surgery?

Most people who have problems with obesity think about weight loss surgery as a way of losing weight, and becoming healthier. Every time you turn around you can read about some celebrity who has lost over hundred pounds with bariatric surgery.

You probably can’t help but wonder if you might be a candidate for this surgery, and how do doctors decide and tell who qualifies for it and who doesn’t. Bariatric surgery isn’t appropriate or designed for those who just wish to lose a little weight or sculpt some area of their body. Instead, this surgery is a major weight loss tool that helps people suffering from extreme obesity who have really high BMI (body mass index), and/or co-morbid health conditions related to obesity. Therefore, the first and the most important thing your doctor might do when deciding if you are a candidate for bariatric surgery is to determine your BMI.


How to Calculate Your BMI?

The body mass index is determined by converting your height in inches to meters and your weight in pounds to kilograms, and is defined as a quotient of your weight in kilograms and your height in meters squared (kg/m2).

Anyone can calculate their own body mass index by dividing their weight in pounds by their height in inches, then dividing the number obtained by their height in inches, and finally multiplying this number by 703. The result is your BMI.

BMI Chart

BMI Category
< 18.518.5 – 24.925 – 29.930 – 34.9

35 – 39.9

≥ 40

UnderweightNormalOverweightClass I Obesity

Class II Obesity

Class III Obesity

Generally, bariatric surgery is considered for those with Class II obesity if they suffer from obesity-related illness, and Class III obesity whether they suffer from obesity-related illness or not.

Obesity-related conditions and illnesses include fatty liver, elevated triglycerides and cholesterol, pancreatitis, gallstones, diabetes and prediabetes, abdominal hernia, heart disease, high blood pressure, polycystic ovary syndrome, stroke, pulmonary hypertension, blood clots in the lungs and legs, arthritis, sleep apnea, gout, urinary incontinence, lower back pain, cataracts, and infertility. If you suffer from any of these medical conditions, gastric surgery may be considered if the BMI is 35 or higher.

Other Factors Used to Determine if a Person Is a Good Candidate for a Bariatric Surgery

Apart from determining your BMI, your doctor must carefully consider your current emotional and physical health. For instance, if you have recently had some major surgery, cancer treatment, a cardiac procedure, or a heart attack, your doctor may believe that you should wait some time before considering weight loss surgery.

Regarding emotional health, someone with a history of anorexia  is generally not considered a good candidate for bariatric surgery. Another contraindication for this surgery is uncontrolled bulimia, but if you have had some eating disorder in the past that has been well controlled and treated for a long time, your doctor might consider you a good candidate for a bariatric surgery.

Finally, if you have any long-standing psychiatric difficulties such as manic depression or schizophrenia, you are unlikely to be a candidate for bariatric surgery. However, it is really important to accent that these criteria are just rules of thumb, and nothing is in the stone. Each individual has a unique set of conditions and circumstances, so the decision is ultimately up to you, your bariatric surgeon, and your personal physician.

Age Requirements for gastric bypass surgery

Until about ten years ago, gastric bypass surgery was nearly exclusively a surgery for adults. However, the obesity epidemic includes more and more children nowadays. Many obese children constantly develop “adult” conditions or diseases such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. These children are often teased and taunted by their peers, therefore obesity can take an emotional and physical toll on the young. Because of these concerns, there are many centers offering this surgery to selected teens. Generally, surgeons wait until a child (a teen) has achieved adult height. This is mostly by thirteen or fourteen years of age for young women, and by fifteen or sixteen for young men.


Risks to Bariatric Surgery

There are possible risks to the patient’s health and well-being with any surgical procedure, so bariatric surgery is no exception. However, most of the patients who undergo this surgery experience few to no complications. Some of the most common risks to bariatric surgery involve operating room risks like injury to organs, bleeding, or anesthesia problems. Other possible risks include risks related to hospital stay such as infection, urinary tract infection, pneumonia, leakage, blood clots in lungs and legs, stroke, heart attack, and kidney complications.

Risks to bariatric surgery are a concern even after the patient leaves the hospital, and is at home recovering. Those risks include ulcer, dehydration, kidney stones, or prolonged nausea. One of the well-known risks to bariatric surgery is called dumping. This problem is caused when some undigested food travels rapidly into the small intestine. However, this issue can only occur with patients who have had gastric bypass surgery. It would be in the best interest of anyone considering the risks of bariatric surgery to consider the risks related to being obese, as well.


Is Bariatric Operation Covered by Insurance? If Not, What Are the Costs?

There are loads of costs associated with bariatric surgery. Before you can even be ready for surgery, you will need to incur costs for your pre-operative testing and visits. Before even starting this process, it is really important to check with your insurance company to see if they will cover your bariatric surgery cost. When asking your insurance company if they are covering your bariatric surgery cost, these are a couple of helpful questions to ask them:Is the bariatric surgery code covered by insurance?

Laparoscopic Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass – Code 43644
Laparoscopic Gastric Banding – Code 43770
Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy – Code 43775

What requirements and/or limits are stated for receiving morbid obesity treatment?

What testing is covered, like nutritionist, labs, psychologist, ultrasounds, sleep apnea study, etc.?

Bariatric Surgery Cost

Bariatric surgery costs vary for the surgical procedures, and will depend mostly on the surgery you pursue, and your needs. A cost starting at $16,000 is fairly realistic. Some insurance and medical providers may cover a portion of the bariatric surgery. If you don’t have insurance coverage for the bariatric surgery, it is still possible to undergo one of these procedures on a self-pay basis. With this option, you will not be delayed by having to wait for your insurance approval.

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