Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Palomar Health's bariatric surgical team has provided a list of frequently asked questions about weight reduction and weight control.  By clicking on a question you will be directed to the answer located further down this page.

1) What is bariatric surgery?

2) Can the surgery be done with the laparoscope?

3) How do I find out if I am a candidate for bariatric surgery?

4) What are the risks or complications associated with bariatric surgery?

5) What procedures are offered at Palomar Health Bariatric Center?

6) How do I know which procedure is right for me?

7) How do I know if my insurance will cover bariatric surgery?

8) How much does bariatric surgery cost?

9) How do I begin the process of getting bariatric surgery?

10) What does it mean to be designated as a "Bariatric Center of Excellence"?

11) How much weight should I expect to lose?

12) How long is the recovery period after surgery?

 


1) What is bariatric surgery?

Bariatric surgery, also known as weight loss surgery, helps people lose weight and overcome the metabolic complications of obesity. The weight loss following bariatric surgery also helps to alleviate a diverse array of other health problems such as obstructive sleep apnea, severe back pain, hypertension, and stress incontinence. Significant weight loss may also help a patient overcome a poor self-image and overcome social and economic discrimination.

Weight-loss surgery (bariatric surgery) is the only option today that effectively treats morbid obesity in people for whom more conservative measures such as diet, exercise, and medication have failed.

There are a variety of approaches to bariatric surgery, but all procedures are either malabsorptive, restrictive, or a combination of the two. Malabsorptive procedures change the way the digestive system works. Restrictive procedures are those that severely reduce the size of the stomach to hold less food, but the digestive functions remain intact.

Three approaches offered at Palomar Health's Bariatric Surgery Center include gastric bypass, adjustable gastric band, and gastric sleeve procedures.

Surgery for weight loss is not a universal remedy, but these procedures can be highly effective in people who are motivated after surgery to follow their physician's guidelines for nutrition and exercise and to take nutritional supplements.

2) Can the surgery be done with the laparoscope?

Yes, absolutely. We use the laparoscopic approach where a camera and tiny tools are used to do the surgery 99% of the time. Minimally invasive surgery leads to a safer, faster, and more comfortable recovery. Open surgery is only needed for extremely complex revisional surgery, people who have extensive scar tissue from previous surgeries, and people with very unusual anatomy.

3) How do I find out if I am a candidate for bariatric surgery?

Candidates for surgery are people who have a BMI 40 or above. Candidates also include those who have a BMI above 35 and have other serious obesity related medical problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, or a severe heart condition. All individuals considering surgery should have made a sincere effort to lose weight beforehand with diet and exercise.
Check your BMI.

4) What are the risks or complications associated with bariatric surgery?

When looking at the risks associated with bariatric surgery one must also consider the risks associated with not having surgery and remaining morbidly obese. As with any surgical procedure, complications may occur. The risks can vary depending upon the type of surgery performed. Some possible complications include, but are not limited to, the following:

· infection
· blood clots
· pneumonia
· bleeding ulcer
· development of gallstones
· obstruction or nausea can occur when food is not well-chewed
· poor nutrition
· scarring inside the abdomen
· vomiting due to eating more than the stomach pouch can hold

The risks of not having surgery include continued suffering from major medical problems and an earlier death from progression of these problems. Not only are patients generally healthier when they loss weight after surgery, but their life expectancy increases compared to similar individuals who do not undergo a bariatric operation.

5) What procedures are offered at Palomar Health Bariatric Center?

We offer gastric bypass, gastric sleeve, and lap band procedures. We also offer corrective operations for patients who have regained their weight after previous weight loss surgery or patients who have had complications from earlier stomach surgeries. Finally, we offer care to Lap Band patients who had their original surgery elsewhere.

6) How do I know which procedure is right for me?

Each operation has it has its advantages and disadvantages. We try to educate our patients thoroughly and then help them select the operation that might best fit their needs. We also always discuss all alternatives to surgery. Some patients are not good candidates for surgery because of a variety of medical or psychological factors. Some simply prefer not to have surgery once that they have reflected on all the facts. For these individuals we will try to advise what alternative may best suite their needs.

7) How do I know if my insurance will cover bariatric surgery?

Contact your insurance carrier if you have any questions regarding your insurance benefit package. Most PPOs and HMOs offer coverage for bariatric surgery. Each insurance company has its own requirements, and there may be variations of coverage based on your employer’s preferences.

8) How much does bariatric surgery cost?

The cost of bariatric surgery varies from patient to patient. The type of surgery performed and the patient’s individual medical condition are major factors which can determine the cost of surgery. Discuss cash rates with your surgeon after your consultation.

9) How do I begin the process of getting bariatric surgery?

You are invited to attend a comprehensive education seminar through our Bariatric Program Medical Director – Dr. Charles Callery. Please call (858) 675-0883

Educational seminars are offered to the public twice a month in the evening at Palomar Medical Center Poway.

10) What does it mean to be designated as a "Bariatric Center of Excellence"?

Bariatric surgeons have formed two national organizations to support and validate excellent surgical care for morbidly obese individuals. Palomar Health is proud to be certified as a Center of Excellence by the Surgical Review Corporation, an offshoot of the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS). Palomar Medical Center Poway has been certified since 2007 and has served the needs of over 3,000 bariatric surgery patients since 1995. Dr. Charles Callery, the bariatric program medical director is a Center of Excellence certified surgeon who has practiced obesity surgery for 20 years.

At Palomar Medical Center Poway we have a team approach with shared responsibility by numerous medical staff members from many disciplines, specialty trained nurses who work on an intermediate care bariatric unit, and administrators who are dedicated to giving the obese surgical patient the best possible experience.

As part of our dedicated effort we have assured that our equipment is size wise, that all our staff has special training about the physical and emotional needs of the extremely obese patient, and that our colleagues in the ICU, Emergency Room, and radiology departments are all versed in the specialty needs of our center.

In short, being a Center of Excellence means that we care about our patients and that we are all focused on giving our patients the best care that is available.

11) How much weight should I expect to lose?

On average patients will lose anywhere from 50 to 65 percent of their excess weight. Statistically, some procedures have better track record than others; however, the success a particular patient (regardless of the type of procedure) will ultimately depend on the patient’s ability to change their eating habits. Choosing the right food to eat, eating in moderation, avoiding snacking, becoming active, and getting some psychological help as needed are all ingredients of success.

A bariatric operation is a tool used to help a patient lose weight. Looking at it another way, think of bariatric surgery as power steering and not as auto pilot. Bariatric surgery helps people get where they want to go, but each patient must steer herself or himself in the right direction.

12) How long is the recovery period after surgery?

Patients generally stay in the hospital anywhere from about two hours to about two days depending upon which type of surgery they have and their individual health. Most folks could use some help around the house for a few days and can return to most activities in one to three weeks.

Do you have any additional questions about the Bariatric Center at Palomar Medical Center Poway in North San Diego County? Please  Contact Us.