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What is the youngest age for which weight loss surgery is recommended?

Generally accepted guidelines from the American Society for Bariatric Surgery and the National Institutes of Health indicate surgery only for those 18 years of age and older. There is a real concern that young patients may not have reached full developmental or emotional maturity to make this type of decision. It is important that young weight loss surgery patients have a full understanding of the lifelong commitment to the altered eating and lifestyle changes necessary for success.


What is the oldest patient for whom weight loss surgery is recommended?

Patients over 65 require very strong indications for surgery and must also meet stringent Medicare criteria. The risk of surgery in this age group is increased, and the benefits, in terms of reduced risk of mortality, are reduced.


Is there a difference in the outcome of surgery between men and women?

Both men and women generally respond well to this surgery. In general, men lose weight slightly faster than women do.


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.


Will I be asked to stop smoking?

Patients are encouraged to stop smoking at least one month before surgery (8 weeks is also standard and some insurances may require 6 months). After surgery, smoking increases the risk of lung problems. It can reduce the rate of healing, increase the rates of infection, cause marginal ulcers, and interfere with blood supply to the healing tissues.


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 gastric bypass surgery if it is otherwise appropriate, but those conditions will make a patient's risk higher than average.


How can I know that I won't just keep losing weight until I waste away to nothing?

Patients may begin to wonder about this early after the surgery when they are losing 20-40 pounds per month, or maybe when they've lost more than 100 pounds and they're still losing weight. Two things happen to allow weight to stabilize. First, a patient's ongoing metabolic needs (calories burned) decrease as the body sheds excess pounds. Second, there is a natural progressive increase in calorie and nutrient intake over the months following weight loss surgery. The stomach pouch and attached small intestine learn to work together better, and there is some expansion in pouch size over a period of months. The bottom line is that, in the absence of a surgical complication, patients are very unlikely to lose weight to the point of malnutrition.


Preparing For Your Procedure

If I am interested, what is the first step toward confirming that surgical weight loss is right for me?

Register for a free informational seminar in your area. Like most bariatric programs, New Life wants to meet you and answer your questions in real time before offering private consultations and new patient appointments. You are encouraged to bring a friend or family member to involve your support system from the very beginning. You will meet Dr. Ahuja or Dr. Sudhakaran, Program Coordinator Heather Ruhe, and learn about the comprehensive program experience with peers who understand your concerns and commitment to a healthier life.


If I want to undergo a bariatric procedure, how long do I have to wait?

New evaluation appointments are usually booked several weeks in advance. Once a patient is seen, if the surgeon and patient agree it is appropriate, the operation can usually be scheduled within 8 weeks.


What can I do before the appointment to speed up the process of getting ready for surgery?

  • Select a primary care physician if you don't already have one, and establish a relationship with him or her. Work with your physician to ensure that your routine health maintenance testing is current. For example, women may have a pap smear, and if over 40 years of age, a breast exam. And for men, this may include a prostate specific antigen test (PSA).
  • Make a list of all the diets you have tried (a diet history) and bring it to your doctor.
  • Bring any pertinent medical data to your appointment with the surgeon - this would include reports of special tests (echocardiogram, sleep study, etc.) or hospital discharge summary if you have been in the hospital.
  • Bring a list of your medications with dose and schedule.
  • Stop smoking. Surgical patients who use tobacco products are a higher surgical risk.