​Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Why should people consider bariatric surgery?

Patients suffering from morbid obesity are at far greater risk of dying from obesity-related diseases, including coronary artery disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), individuals who are obese have a 10 percent to 50 percent increased risk of death from all causes. A healthy weight for most people is defined as a body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9.


Q. What are the benefits of bariatric surgery?
The combination of bariatric surgery and a healthy lifestyle may be an effective way for you or someone you love to maintain long-term weight loss and good health. There are many benefits to having bariatric surgery, including:


  • Improved longevity. Those who undergo bariatric surgery are found to have a lower risk of death than obese individuals who don't have surgery.
  • Improvement or cure of obesity-related conditions. The majority of patients who have bariatric surgery have an improvement or cure of obesity-related conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes sleep apnea, asthma, arthritis, cholesterol levels, and more.
  • Long-term weight loss success. Studies show that more than 90 percent of people who have bariatric surgery are able to maintain at least 50 percent of their weight loss following the procedure.
  • Faster metabolism. As you lose more weight, you will find yourself participating in more physical activity, such as biking, walking and swimming, which improves the body's ability to burn fat efficiently. Hormones like insulin and cortisol (stress hormone) are also reduced, which helps lower the body's storage of fat.
  • Better quality of life. Bariatric surgery patients report a better quality of life after the procedure, including better mobility, reduced depression and anxiety, improvement in self-esteem and social interactions.


Q. What impact do my medical problems have on the decision for surgery, and how do the medical problems affect risk?
Medical problems, such as serious heart or lung problems, can increase the risk of any surgery. On the other hand, if they are problems that are related to the patient's weight, they also increase the need for surgery. Severe medical problems may not dissuade the surgeon from recommending bariatric surgery if it is otherwise appropriate, but those conditions will make a patient's risk higher than average.

Q. Which weight-loss surgery is best for me?
To decide which weight-loss surgery is best for you, start first by considering your current health and weight, your goals, the procedures your physician performs and which are covered by your insurance provider. The procedures offered at PeaceHealth Southwest fall into two basic categories:


  • The Sleeve Gastrectomy restricts the size of the stomach to reduce the amount of food you can eat.  This surgery works by physically restricting the stomach's size, limiting the amount of solid food you can eat. A normal stomach can hold about three pints of food.  After weight loss surgery, a stomach may only hold one ounce of food, although over time it may be able to hold two or three ounces of food.
  • The Gastric Bypass restricts the size of the stomach and also bypasses parts of the digestive tract to limit the calories absorbed as food passes through your intestines. The surgeon removes parts of your intestine, creating a shortcut for the food to be digested. This means that fewer calories get absorbed into the body. The combined malabsorptive/restrictive surgery also creates a smaller stomach pouch, which restricts the amount of food you can eat.
Your surgeon will help you to decide which procedure is best for you to achieve your individual goals in the safest manner possible. At PeaceHealth Southwest, we perform the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy as surgical options. There are many factors to consider when choosing between these procedures, including the patient’s obesity-related medical problems and eating habits.


Q. What is laparoscopic bariatric surgery?


  • Laparoscopic weight-loss surgery involves making five half- inch incisions and performing the operation by observation through a small camera. The laparoscope, which is connected to a video camera, is inserted through one of the small abdominal incisions, giving the surgeon a magnified view of the patient’s internal abdominal space on a television monitor. The entire operation is performed "inside" the abdomen after gas has been inserted to expand the abdomen and create a working space.
  • Advantages of the laparoscopic approach include less post-operative pain, a shorter hospital stay, faster return to work and improved appearance. Recovery time also is shorter.


Q. How do I know if I am eligible for weight loss surgery?
PeaceHealth Southwest Weight Loss Surgery follows guidelines supported by the National Institutes of Health in order to determine a patient's eligibility for weight loss surgery. Patients may qualify for surgery if they meet the following requirements:


  • BMI>40 or >35 with documentation of a co-morbid conditions such as Diabetes, Hypertension, Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Coronary Artery Disease and/or Dyslipidemia.
  • Failure of non-surgical weight loss programs/diets to achieve sustained weight loss
​Q. How long will I have to stay in the hospital after surgery?
Your hospital stay will depend on the type of weight loss surgery you have. Generally, hospital stays are between two and three days.

Q. Will I go off some of my medications after surgery?
As you lose weight, you may be able to reduce or eliminate the need for many of the medications you take for high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis, cholesterol, and diabetes. If you have a gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy, you may even be able to reduce the dosage or discontinue the use of your diabetes medications soon after your procedure.

Q. How long will I be off of work after surgery?
Your time off of work will depend on the type of weight loss surgery you have and the type of work you do. In general, plan to take about two to four weeks off of work. While you will not be incapacitated by any means, you will use this period to focus on recovery and establishing routines to follow the post-surgical bariatric nutritional guidelines.

Q. Will I have to diet and exercise after the procedure?
Many people think of a “diet” as a plan that leaves you hungry. That is not the way people feel after surgery. Eventually, most patients get some form of appetite back around 18 months after surgery. Your appetite is much weaker, and easier to satisfy than before. Healthy food choices are important to maximize and maintain weight loss.

Many patients are hesitant about exercising after surgery, but exercise is an essential component of success after surgery. Exercise actually begins on the afternoon of surgery - the patient must be out of bed and walking. The goal is to walk further on the next day, and progressively further every day after that, including the first few weeks at home. Patients are often released from medical restrictions and encouraged to begin exercising about two weeks after surgery, limited only by the level of wound discomfort. The type of exercise is dictated by the patient's overall condition. Some patients who have severe knee problems can't walk well, but may be able to swim or bicycle. Many patients begin with low stress forms of exercise and are encouraged to progress to more vigorous activity when they are able. 

Q. What if I have excess skin? 
As you start losing weight, you may notice excess skin. The amount of excess skin you experience is due to multiple factors including your weight loss and age . Sometimes, patients choose to have plastic surgery to have this skin removed. PeaceHealth Southwest has plastic surgeons who work very closely with our patients to provide plastic surgery options.

Q. Can I get pregnant after weight loss surgery?
It is strongly recommended that women wait at least one year after the surgery before a pregnancy. Approximately one year post-operatively, your body will be fairly stable (from a weight and nutrition standpoint) and you should be able to carry a normally nourished fetus. You should consult your surgeon as you plan for pregnancy.