Frequently Asked Questions

Am I a candidate?

You may be a candidate for weight-loss surgery if you meet the following criteria:

  • Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or greater (100 pounds or more above "ideal" body weight)
  • BMI between 35-39 with significant co-morbidities, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and/or sleep apnea
  • Documentation of failure to lose and maintain weight loss with traditional diet programs while supervised by a physician
  • Absence of any medical condition that would make the risk of surgery outweigh the benefits
  • Absence of any psychological or medical condition that would preclude patient compliance to postoperative recommendations
  • Determination to make necessary life-style changes and participate in long-term follow-up care as evidenced by a psychological evaluation

What are the risks and complications?

All of the procedures are available laparoscopically, which means that the surgery is completed using 4-5 small incisions. The potential for complications is moderately high and varies depending upon which procedure you have. Some patients need additional surgery to correct complications such as abdominal and internal hernias, and some patients develop nutritional deficiencies such as anemia and osteoporosis. There are essential lifestyle changes the patient must be absolutely committed to making. People who once ate freely must become very attentive to their diets, eat smaller, more nutritious meals and take vitamin and mineral supplements.

Risks associated with abdominal surgery

Risks are associated with any type of surgery, including abdominal surgery, and the risks below are greater for individuals who suffer from obesity. Your weight, age and medical history play a significant role in determining your specific risks. Your surgeon can inform you about your individual weight-loss surgery risks.

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Injury to internal organs
  • Hernias
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Heart attack
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Stroke
  • Death

What are the positive effects of bariatric surgery?

According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), bariatric surgery is associated with massive weight loss and improves, or even resolves (cures), obesity-related co-morbidities for the majority of patients. These co-morbidities include high blood pressure, sleep apnea, asthma and other obesity-related breathing disorders, Type II diabetes, arthritis, lipid (cholesterol) abnormalities, gastroesophageal reflux disease, fatty liver disease, venous stasis, urinary stress incontinence and pseudotumor cerebri.

How can I be considered for weight-loss surgery?

  • Using the CPT codes provided in the Risks and Concerns page of this section, call your insurance company to see if the procedure you are interested in is a covered benefit under your policy. Unfortunately, if these are excluded on your policy, there is nothing our office can do to get your surgery approved. Feel free to call our office for information about private pay pricing.
  • Call the Center for Surgical Weight Control office at 304.399.4118 to sign up to attend an educational seminar. These are presented by Dr. Blaine Nease, the surgeon, who reviews each procedure and the benefits and risks associated with each.
  • Talk to your primary care physician. He/she will need to write a referral letter of support for your decision and will help care for you after your weight-loss surgery. Your insurance company will also require office notes from your primary care physician documenting a specific diet and specific exercise that you have attempted for a certain amount of time. Please see the Insurance page of this section for more information.
  • Obtain a psychological evaluation from a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist. If you are need assistance, you may call the office and we can provide a list of phone numbers.
  • Gather copies of the medical records from any past surgeries you have had on your stomach.

What happens to the excess/loose skin after I lose weight?

After you have bariatric surgery and successfully lose your excess body weight, you will have some loose skin. Your option for this is plastic surgery. Unfortunately, insurance does not cover the majority of these procedures; only in very rare instances will they even assist in coverage. Exercise and intake of the recommended protein is the best option in helping to reduce the amount of excess skin you have. Although rumors persist about burn centers accepting skin donations for burn patients, this is not an option.

What should I do?

The decision to consider weight-control surgery is one of the most important decisions you may ever make. It will not only impact your life, but the lives of those closest to you. Choosing the right program is equally important. The doctors, nurses, nutritionists and counselors at the Center for Surgical Weight Control are all specially trained and focused on helping you. For more information, please call the patient intake coordinator, Charlotte King, at  304.399.4118.