Gastric bypass and other types of weight-loss surgery, collectively known as bariatric surgery, make surgical changes to your stomach and digestive system that limit how much food you can eat and how many nutrients you absorb, leading to weight loss. While that may sound appealing, gastric bypass surgery isn't for everyone. Like any major procedure, it has significant health risks and side effects. In addition, the long-term success of gastric bypass surgery depends on your ability to make permanent changes in your lifestyle.
When you want to be considered for gastric bypass surgery, you must undergo a thorough evaluation to determine if it's suitable for your situation. Gastric bypass and other weight-loss surgeries are major, life-changing procedures.
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While weight-loss surgery can help reduce your risk of weight-related health problems — such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and sleep apnea — it can also pose major risks and complications. You may need to meet certain medical guidelines to qualify for weight-loss surgery. You likely will have an extensive screening process to see if you qualify.
In some cases, you may qualify for certain types of weight-loss surgery if your BMI is 30 to 34 and you have serious weight-related health problems. Even if you meet these general guidelines, you still may need to meet certain other medical guidelines to qualify for weight-loss surgery. A team of health professionals — usually including a doctor, dietitian, psychologist and surgeon — evaluate whether gastric bypass or one of the other forms of weight-loss surgery is appropriate for you.
This evaluation generally determines if the health benefits of the surgery outweigh the potentially serious risks, and if you're medically ready to undergo the procedure. The evaluation also determines if you're psychologically ready to undergo weight-loss surgery. The procedure may increase certain risks in people with existing mental health conditions that aren't effectively managed.
For example, recent studies have identified an increased risk of suicide in people who have had weight-loss surgery. This risk is greatest in those who have attempted suicide in the past. More research is needed to understand whether changes related to the surgery itself play a role in increasing suicide risk.
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A history of suicidal thoughts or attempts does not necessarily mean bariatric surgery isn't right for you, but your health care team should carefully evaluate your history and plan for close monitoring and support before and after the surgery. Your psychological status. Certain mental health conditions may contribute to obesity or make it more difficult for you to maintain the health benefits of gastric bypass surgery.
These may include binge-eating disorder, substance abuse, anxiety disorders, major depression, schizophrenia, severe bipolar disorder and issues related to childhood sexual abuse. While these conditions may not prevent you from having gastric bypass surgery, your doctors may want to postpone surgery to ensure that any condition or significant sources of stress are appropriately treated and managed. If you're approved for gastric bypass surgery, your health care team gives you instructions about how to prepare in the months or weeks before the surgery.
These instructions may include restrictions on eating and drinking, undergoing lifestyle counseling to help you cope with big changes in diet and exercise, quitting smoking, and starting a supervised physical activity or exercise program. In some cases, you may be required to lose weight before having gastric bypass surgery.
Even after gastric bypass surgery is scheduled, it can be delayed or canceled if your health care team determines that:. If it's determined that gastric bypass surgery is appropriate for you, you will still have financial hurdles to negotiate. If you plan to rely on health insurance coverage for your gastric bypass surgery, you will need to get preapproval from your health insurance company, Medicare or your state medical assistance program — whoever you have insurance through.
The preapproval process typically requires documentation from your team of doctors that justifies your medical need for gastric bypass surgery. Different health insurers have different requirements to prove your medical need for gastric bypass surgery. Your health insurer may not cover gastric bypass surgery at all or may cover only parts of the process. To avoid unpleasant financial surprises, it's a good idea to check to see what specific services are covered before starting the evaluation process.
You may have to pay for some portion of the costs yourself. Gastric bypass surgery isn't a miracle procedure — and it isn't for everyone. Having gastric bypass or other weight-loss surgery doesn't guarantee that you'll lose all your excess weight or that you'll keep it off over the long term. Nor is it a way to avoid making changes in your diet and exercise habits. In fact, you can regain the weight you lose with gastric bypass surgery if you don't stick with the lifestyle changes.
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