Weight Loss Surgery Deciding

People who have bariatric surgery have usually tried other weight loss methods and have been unable to lose and keep off weight over time. Even though this procedure can work, choosing bariatric surgery should not be taken lightly.

As you make the choice as to whether you will undergo bariatric surgery, consider:

  • the cost of surgery
  • the lifestyle and dietary changes you will have to make after surgery
  • the risks of bariatric surgery.

Cost of Bariatric Surgery

The costs of having bariatric surgery can be prohibitive for some. Surgery alone can start at $25,000 and skyrocket upwards, depending on the surgeon you choose and your individual needs. In addition, you may have postoperative costs, such as seeing a dietician, which may not be covered by your health insurance.

While the cost of bariatric surgery can be overwhelming, some insurance companies may pick up at least part of the tab, and your surgeon may offer payment plans. Be sure to work out the precise costs and payment plans before undergoing the procedure.

Changes in Diet and Exercise

If you have bariatric surgery, your stomach will end up being smaller, meaning that you will have to eat smaller portions at meals. This in itself may be a change in your eating habits. However, for your surgery to be truly successful, you will have to change the portions of your food and the types of food that you eat. Eating the wrong kinds of foods can induce pain, vomiting and other unpleasant symptoms.

Keep in mind, as well, that choosing bariatric surgery means that you will have to be committed to regularly exercising.

Risks of Bariatric Surgery

As with any surgical procedure, be sure you are familiar with the associated risks of bariatric surgery before undergoing the procedure. Bariatric surgery risks include:

  • blockages
  • infection
  • problems with your heart
  • problems with your lungs.

In addition, bariatric surgery has postoperative risks specifically related to the procedure. These risks can include:

  • fluid leakage from the stomach or intestine resulting in an abdominal infection
  • hair loss
  • restapling if your staples come out, requiring another operation
  • vitamin B-12 and iron deficiencies.

Choosing Bariatric Surgery: Types of Surgeries

Once you have decided to have bariatric surgery, you will need to choose what type of bariatric surgical procedure you want. You can choose between:

  • gastric banding: During a gastric banding procedure, your surgeon will place an adjustable band around the upper part of your stomach. This band will make your stomach smaller while still allowing you to use your normal digestive system. Your physician can either loosen or tighten the band by injecting a salt solution through a tube that ends just under your skin. This will help you make adjusts to your weight loss program as you recover from surgery.
  • roux-en-Y gastric bypass: Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, the most common type of bariatric surgery used in the United States today, permanently changes the size of your stomach. In this procedure, your surgeon will staple off the upper part of your stomach from the rest of the stomach and then attach part of the intestines to the pouch. While this surgery does mean that your body absorbs fewer calories than other bariatric surgeries allow for, it also stifles the amount of nutrients and vitamins that you absorb.
  • vertical banded gastroplasty: A patient who has vertical banded gastroplasty has a permanent, smaller stomach created using elastic bands and staples. This procedure is not commonly used today.

Talk to your physician about the right option for you.

Choosing bariatric surgery can have a huge impact on your life if you are approved for one of these procedures. Understanding the risks, surgery costs and essential lifestyle changes will help you in your decision making process.


Aurora Health Care (2008). Bariatric Surgery Options. Retrieved April 21, 2008, from the AuroraHealthCare.org Web site.

Einstein Medical (2006). Costs of Bariatric Surgery. Retrieved April 21, 2008, from the DocShop.com Web site.

New Jersey Bariatrics, P.C. (2008). Risks of Bariatric Surgery. Retrieved April 21, 2008, from the NJBariatricspc.com Web site.

ObesityHelp.com (2008). About Weight Loss Surgery. Retrieved April 21, 2008, from the ObesityHelp.com Web site.