Considering weight loss surgery to improve your health? Here’s what to know and what to expect

Weight Management

by Kim Ewton, BSN, RN, CBN, RNFA

Oct 12, 2021

Carrying around excess weight can be a health hazard, but it’s not easy to figure out how to manage your weight—especially during major life events like marriage, pregnancy, career stress, injuries, and pandemics, when weight gain is especially common.

The thought of surgical and non-surgical weight loss can bring up a lot of questions. But thankfully, our team at Baylor Scott & White Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery – Grapevine has you covered. Here’s everything you need to know if you’re considering weight loss surgery.

How can weight loss surgery improve quality of life and longevity?

Before discussing non-surgical weight loss, let’s cover the benefits of surgical options, plus what to expect if you go this route.

Surgery for weight loss lowers the risk of death related to many diseases. Among them are heart disease (40% lower), diabetes (92% lower) and cancer (60% lower). These are significant reductions, but they’re just the beginning.

When people start to lose weight after surgery, they also feel more energy, experience less pain and enjoy more enthusiasm for activities. Often, these activities are exciting interests like hobbies that they have not done for years. The significant and rapid weight loss after surgery means you’ll reap these benefits more quickly than people who opt for non-surgical weight loss. Also, shedding pounds quickly can lead to changes in hormones which lead to even more weight loss, increasing the benefits above.

What are the surgical options for weight loss?

The medical field has learned a lot since the first weight loss surgery was performed in the 1950’s. Today, we combine new technology with improved processes for a safer, quicker, more effective procedure than ever before.

If you’re a good candidate for weight loss surgery—something we’ll cover in a moment—then together, you and your doctor will discuss the specific surgical options:

  • Laparoscopic/robotic sleeve gastrectomy
  • Laparoscopic/robotic Roux-en-y gastric bypass
  • Laparoscopic/robotic duodenal switch
  • Laparoscopic lap band removal
  • Laparoscopic/robotic revisions

    By far, the most commonly used weight loss surgery is laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy.

What can I expect during weight loss surgery?

Bariatric surgical procedures cause weight loss by restricting the amount of food the stomach can hold (“gastric restriction”), causing you to pass nutrients (“malabsorption”), or a combination of both. Usually, hormonal changes accelerate the weight loss even further.

You’ll begin by consulting your bariatric surgeon. In this informative, easy-going meeting, you’ll discuss your personal medical history and together, determine which procedure is best. You’ll also meet with our patient advocate to discuss your insurance plan coverage details.

To prepare you for surgery, we provide comprehensive education and fulfill any insurance plan requirements.

These days, most weight loss surgeries are performed using minimally invasive techniques (aka laparoscopic surgery). That means it’s quicker and safer than ever before. The procedure itself takes around 90 minutes.

What is recovery from surgery like?

To heal, you’ll need to plan to rest. You’ll limit your diet at first to just clear liquids. Gradually, you’ll progress to purees, and then soft foods, and eventually, solid foods. You’ll also take a daily multivitamin to stay healthy.

Most weight loss surgery recipients take approximately two weeks off work to recover. During that time, your health care team (your surgeon, nurse practitioner and registered dietitian) will be in touch. And remember, they’re only a phone call away should any questions or worries arise.

Plan to visit your surgeon, nurse practitioner and/or registered dietitian at the three week mark, and then again at five weeks, three months, six months, nine months, and finally, one year after surgery. From there, we’ll want to see you annually.

You can also expect to come in again for blood tests (aka “lab work”) three months and then yearly after surgery. We’ll also assist you with lifelong diet and lifestyle changes so you can sustain your weight loss results.

Who is and is not a candidate for weight loss surgery?

At this point in the discussion, people are always curious whether they’re eligible for this procedure. Typically, the best weight loss surgery candidates have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 kg/m2 or a BMI of 35 kg/m2 with comorbidities.

Comor…what? Comorbidities. These are conditions that present simultaneously with obesity. For example, hypertension, diabetes or obstructive sleep apnea.

Now that we’ve covered the common weight loss surgery recipient, let’s look at who is not a candidate. These are signs that you may not be eligible for weight loss surgery:

  • Active alcohol or substance abuse
  • Habitually vape and/or smoke  
  • Psychiatric issues such as schizophrenia or eating disorders that are not fully managed 
  • Unwillingness to make the commitment of lifelong changes to diet and lifestyle

What are the non-surgical medical options for weight loss?

If you and your doctor determine surgery is not right for you, our medical weight loss program can help you develop a tailored approach to weight loss. Our nurse practitioner, dietitian and support team collaborate to provide a unique-to-you, 360-degree lifestyle plan to follow.

Your program may include FDA-approved medications that help control appetite and cravings, nutritional counseling and coaching on how to translate knowledge into action to maximize weight loss. We work hard to help provide practical tools to help achieve and sustain lifelong weight loss.

How can non-surgical medical weight loss help improve quality of life?

Everyone defines “quality of life” differently. But people who have opted for the medical weight loss program at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Grapevine report improved activity tolerance, ease of movement, better sleep, diminished pain, and more energy and joy. These are benefits everyone can agree are worth the effort.

“I didn’t know how bad I felt until I started feeling better,” is a statement we commonly hear from patients.

What can I expect from non-surgical medical weight loss?

If you trust our team with your medical weight loss journey, you can expect to receive a science-based, all-encompassing life change program. It’ll include:

  • One on one comprehensive assessments.
  • Education on the disease of obesity and treatment options.
  • Individualized nutrition program.
  • Frequent monitoring and ongoing support.

Who is and is not a candidate for non-surgical medical weight loss?

People with a BMI of 30 kg/m2 usually make for good medical weight loss program participants. Another group that typically responds well is anyone who has a BMI of 27 kg/m2 with comorbidities such as high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol.

That said, you should talk with a medical weight loss expert before ruling yourself out based on those generalizations.

You’re not alone. And you have options.

If you’re carrying more weight than you want, you’re certainly not alone. You’re also not stuck. Want to explore your surgical weight loss options?

Find a bariatric surgeon near you or visit Baylor Scott & White Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery – Grapevine to get started on your unique weight loss journey.

About the Author

Kim Ewton, BSN, RN, CBN, RNFA, is a clinic manager at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Grapevine.

We make it easy.

Healthcare doesn't have to be difficult. We're constantly finding ways to make it easy so that you can get Better and stay that way.

Better tools make it easier

We all have different healthcare needs. Handle them your way with the MyBSWHealth app. Download the app today and take a hands-on approach to your healthcare.

Text Better to 88408