Surgical Weight Loss FAQs

These FAQs are general and may not always pertain to your individual case. It's important to ask your physician these questions as well as any others you may have.

  • How do I know if surgical weight loss is right for me?

    Gastric bypass or gastric sleeve surgery may be the next step for people who are looking for a permanent weight loss solution after trying nonsurgical approaches, or, for people who have an obesity-related disease. You may be a candidate for surgical weight loss if you:

    • Are 100 pounds or more above your ideal weight or have a BMI of 40 or higher.
    • Have a BMI of at least 35 and are diagnosed with at least one or more serious obesity related conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or sleep apnea.
    • Have no severe medical, psychological or emotional conditions that would render surgery too risky.
    • Have no dependence on drugs or alcohol, or have been sober for a year.
    • Have tried and failed at previous efforts to lose weight.
    • Understand the seriousness of the surgery and the necessity for a lifelong personal commitment to a healthier diet and lifestyle.
    • Have obesity-related physical problems that interfere with employment, walking or family function

    Remember: There are no guarantees for any method, including surgery, to produce and maintain weight loss. Success is possible only with maximum cooperation and commitment to behavioral change and medical follow-up -- and this cooperation and commitment must be carried out for the rest of your life. Sentara offers personalized support following weight loss surgery, including support groups, counseling, nutrition and fitness programs for a successful weight loss goal.

  • What questions should I discuss with my primary care doctor?
    • How would I benefit surgical weight loss?
    • In my current health condition, what are the best options for me?
    • Am I a candidate for a particular surgical procedure?
    • What other health considerations should I have regarding surgery?
    • What are the other steps I should take to prepare for the operation?
  • How do I find out more about the surgery?

    Your first step to learn more about surgical weight loss is to attend an information seminar given by a weight loss surgeon. Call 1-800-SENTARA or register online to attend an information seminar.

  • How long does gastric bypass surgery take?

    The surgery takes around two hours of operating time. This depends greatly on the patient's anatomy and whether they have adhesions inside the abdomen or have had previous surgery.

  • How long am I in the hospital after gastric bypass?

    Most patients remain in the hospital one to two nights.

  • How long will I be out of work?

    Since the surgery is minimally invasive, patients return to work between one and four weeks after surgery. Plan with your doctor to decide how much time you can anticipate being away from work.

  • What are some of the possible complications of gastric bypass?
    • Over one-third of the people who have gastric bypass develop gallstones. 
    • People who have had this surgery are more likely to develop liver problems. 
    • Between 10% and 20% require a second surgery to repair a complication.The most common complication is a hernia.
    • It is also possible for the staples to pull loose (so there is no longer a pouch).
    • It is possible for a leak to occur from the stomach or intestine into the abdominal cavity. This will result in a serious infection called peritonitis. 
      There is a very small risk of death from the surgery. About 1 in 2,000 (0.5%) people die from the surgery. 
    • Other risks associated with major surgery include infection in the incision, an abscess inside the abdomen, deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.

    There may be other complications - be sure to discuss concerns with your physician.

  • How much does gastric bypass cost?

    Costs may vary greatly for this surgery, particularly on your individual needs and the type of surgery you pursue. A range of $15,000 to $20,000 is probably realistic - and some insurance providers may cover a portion of the cost. If an insurance company pays for gastric bypass, your physician will work with your insurance company to explain the procedure and the indications for the procedure - payment for the procedure is ultimately up to your insurance company.  

  • What is life like after gastric bypass?

    Patients must stick to strict dietary guidelines for several weeks following gastric bypass surgery. In addition, lifestyle changes must be made permanently. You may find it helpful to join a support group for the chance to discuss your personal and professional issues. Ask your physician about recommending a support group that will meet your needs.

  • How much weight will I lose?

    The goal is to lose a healthy one to two pounds per week, however, weight loss results vary from patient to patient.

  • Will I need plastic surgery for the surplus skin when I have lost a lot of weight?

    As a rule, plastic surgery will not be considered for at least a year or two after the operation. Sometimes the skin will mold itself around the new body tissue. You should give the skin the time it needs to adjust before you decide to have more surgery.

Take the first step of your weight loss journey. Register for an upcoming informational seminar with our surgeons.