People who consider weight loss surgery, also called bariatric surgery, are often at the end of their ropes. Traditional methods of diet, exercise, and medication have been ineffective, and this procedure is a last resort. But it’s a big leap to go from thinking about weight loss surgery to getting on the operating table.
People need to be aware, in great detail, of the risks and benefits of weight loss surgery. After all, any operation carries some risk, and can cause a great deal of anxiety. So prepare carefully if you are considering weight loss surgery. You should be physically and mentally ready. Most of all, you should be committed to permanently changing your lifestyle and keeping the weight off to ensure a healthier life.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
Have you truly tried to lose weight through diet and exercise?
Have you completed at least 1 year of a medically supervised weight loss program?
Will your insurance cover weight loss surgery?
Are you prepared for the psychological exam many surgeons require?
Have you looked into support groups to help you adjust after weight loss surgery?
Don’t rush into weight loss surgery. Typically, two years pass from the time a person first thinks about having weight loss surgery to the time they make the commitment to have it done, according to James Kolenich, MD, a bariatric surgeon at UPMC Horizon. Talk to family and friends, talk to the surgeon and people at the hospital. Approach this major decision thoughtfully.
More than 78 million obese adults are living in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control. Weight loss surgery can be successful when diet and exercise have failed, and a person's health is on the line. Being overweight is the second leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., after smoking, according to the American Obesity Association (AOA).
First, Kolenich suggests people contact their insurance company to learn if they are covered for the surgery. Then they should contact their primary care doctors to get documentation of their struggle with obesity. Many insurance companies want to know that a primary care doctor has tried to help the patient lose weight with psychological counseling, diet, and an exercise plan for at least five years.
While there are other options, such as personally financing weight loss surgery, they are costly: The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases states that a typical weight loss operation can run from $20,000 to $25,000.
With such a hefty price tag on weight loss surgery, it pays to ensure that your doctor documents your battle with obesity early on, to open up options down the road.
When you've crossed all your t's and dotted all of your i's in the insurance category, it is time to find a first-rate surgeon and hospital.