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Highland Hospital / Bariatric Surgery Center / Your Questions Answered

Your Questions Answered

There is a lot to learn when considering weight-loss surgery. Some of the commonly asked questions with their answers are listed here. Talk to your doctor or dietitian if you have others.

Before Surgery

Will my insurance cover everything?

Coverage will depend on your policy with your insurance carrier. If your health insurance company requires referrals for specialist appointments, you will need to work with your Primary Care Physician to obtain the referral. We will work with you to ensure you have the right information to submit for determination of coverage for surgery.


How long does it take for my insurance to approve the surgery?

A response is typically received within 14 business days. You will receive a letter in the mail from the insurance company if you are approved. If there is an issue, we will give you a call.


Are there any out-of-pocket costs?

Check with your insurance company to be knowledgeable of your covered benefits. If your insurance does not cover nutrition, psychological, or surgical consultation appointments you will be responsible for the charges.


What are the risks of bariatric surgery?

All major abdominal surgeries come with risks. Some of these risks are increased in obese individuals. Our highly-trained team will do everything in their power to reduce the risk of any complications. A list of the potential risks of bariatric surgery can be found here


Will all of my appointments be at Highland Hospital?

No. Your History and Physical and Nutrition appointments will be at Highland Hospital. The only alternate location for Nutrition is Thompson Health in Canandaigua. The psychological evaluation, sleep study and some additional medical testing will be done offsite.


When is it safe to become pregnant?

We strongly recommend that you do not become pregnant until 2 years after your surgery due to the nutritional stress on your body resulting from the rapid weight loss. It has been shown that women who had absent or irregular periods before surgery are likely to begin regular cycles and ovulation with weight loss. If you were not able to get pregnant while obese this can change with weight loss.


Is there policy around smoking and drug use?

To be eligible for surgery, patients are not permitted to smoke tobacco due to the significant increase in operative and post-operative risks. If you currently smoke, you must stop smoking prior to surgery and a blood test will be required to confirm abstinence. If you are currently using illicit drugs, or have used them within the last year you will not be eligible for the program until a 1 year abstinence has been documented by a physician.


When can I expect to have surgery?

On average it takes approximately 4-6 months to meet the medical and nutritional requirements for surgery. Keep in mind that this is elective surgery and our team of professionals will determine when it is safe to proceed to surgery. Each person must demonstrate the ability to make the necessary lifestyle changes to be successful with surgery. Each component of the program is time sensitive. If you do not have surgery within one year of beginning the program (attending a seminar) you may need to repeat a portion of or all of the program.


Are there diet restrictions prior to having surgery?

You will follow a clear liquid diet starting at 6 a.m. the day before your scheduled surgery. The details about this diet will be provided to you at your pre-surgical screening appointment.


Can my pre-surgical screening appointment be done elsewhere?

To ensure you meet the prescreening requirements, this appointment must be done at Highland.


When should I be off birth control pills/injections and for how long?

You must be off birth control four weeks prior to surgery. You can resume taking this medication one month after surgery. We strongly recommend that you do not become pregnant until two years after your surgery due to the nutritional stress on your body resulting from rapid weight loss. It has been shown that women who had absent or irregular periods before surgery are likely to begin regular cycles and ovulation with weight loss. If you were not able to get pregnant while obese this may change with weight loss.


Do I need to stop taking my prescription medications?

If you are on any prescription medication, their use in preparation for surgery will be discussed during your pre-surgical screening appointment. Ask the surgeon for instructions if you are on blood thinners.

Note: Post surgery you will not be able to take any medications that contain aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen (for example: Motrin, Advil, Aleve). These medications will increase your risk for ulcer formation and GI Bleeding.


After Surgery

How many days will I be in the hospital?

After surgery, most patients are in the hospital for two days.


 Can I have a private room?

A private room can be requested but will be assigned based on availability. Note: If your insurance policy does not cover private rooms, the fee becomes the patient’s responsibility.


How long will I be out of work?

On average, most people return to work in two weeks following laparoscopic surgery. An open surgery will likely extend the return to work to four weeks.


What is the typical recovery experience?

It is normal to feel tired after surgery as your body needs time to recover from the stress of surgery. The best advice is to adhere to the prescribed meal plan, stay hydrated and rest when needed. You will be able to drive once you are no longer taking any pain medication.


Are there any exercise restrictions after surgery?

No swimming until your incisions have healed and any scabs have fallen off. No lifting more than 15 pounds for the first 2 weeks following your surgery. You may start walking outside or on a treadmill as soon as you feel well enough. Work your way up gradually to 30 minutes per day of exercise, 5 days per week. Exercise is a key factor in being successful long-term.


Will I lose my hair?

Some hair loss is common following surgery. It is the body’s natural response to the stress of surgery and the rapid weight loss. This is temporary, and an adequate intake of protein, vitamins and minerals will help to ensure hair re-growth. Most patients report that this problem has resolved by one year after their surgery.


Do I have to be on a liquid diet at any point?

You will be following a clear liquid diet the day prior to surgery and will receive specific instructions at the pre- surgical screening appointment. For seven to ten days after surgery your meal plan will include such items as protein drinks, milk, yogurt, pudding and cream soups. Then you will gradually transition to solids in the first three months.


What will I be able to eat following surgery?

The liquid diet will be the first meal plan after surgery. Your dietitian covered the details of the liquid diet at your last nutrition appointment. Please ask the medical assistant for another copy of the liquid meal plan if this has been misplaced. You can also access a copy online. Be Prepared! It is very important that you sample the protein drinks to determine what you prefer and to grocery shop and stock your pantry with the liquid meal plan items prior to being admitted for surgery.


When do I start my vitamins?

At discharge from the hospital you will receive instructions regarding medications and vitamins. At each post-op visit you will be provided with further instructions. We will gradually advance the vitamin regimen to improve tolerance.


How much weight can I expect to lose?

Some of that depends on how much you need to lose. During the Rapid Weight Loss phase after surgery- the first 12-18 months- you should lose 60%-80% of your excess weight if you follow the guidelines of how to eat, what to eat, what combination of foods are best and what time to eat.


What is the usual follow-up care after surgery?

In the first year after surgery you will have five follow-up appointments. Our aftercare program provides routine follow-up, continued nutrition education/counseling, monitoring of blood work, renewal of prescriptions and early intervention and support if needed. We work in conjunction with your referring physician during treatment and follow-up but patients are expected to continue to see their PCP for general healthcare. Our visit schedule:

  • Visit 1:  7-10 days after surgery. Transition to the Pureed Meal Plan.
  • Visit 2:  5 weeks after surgery. Transition to the Soft Meal Plan.
  • Visit 3:  9 weeks after surgery. Transition to the Bariatric Lifestyle Meal Plan.
  • Visit 4:  6 months after surgery.
  • Visit 5:  1 year after surgery and continuing visits annually thereafter.


How long will the team at the Bariatric Surgery Center at Highland support me?

We commit to a lifetime of support for you. In the first year after surgery you will have five follow-up appointments and an annual physical exam thereafter. We also offer a monthly support group where you and other patients can share your success and challenges.