Saint Agnes Hospital

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Common Questions

Get the Facts

These common questions and answers were developed by Saint Agnes to give you more detailed information about weight loss surgery. If you're considering surgery and you have more questions, please call us. We also provide free weight loss seminars and support groups to help answer your questions.

Call Today for Details: 1-866-690-WELL(9355)

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Consider Weight Loss Surgery?

More than one-third of U.S. adults are obese. If you are more than 100 pounds overweight and struggle with a Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than 30, you are considered obese. Obesity affects both your physical and mental health. Also, it can increase your risk of:

  • Premature death
  • Medical problems, including diabetes and high cholesterol
  • Certain types of cancers
  • Sleep apnea and pulmonary hypertension

Weight loss surgery will help you shed the weight and start your journey to a long, healthy life. From being able to pick up your grandchildren to taking a long walk in the park, weight loss surgery can help you start living life to the fullest.

Why should I come to Saint Agnes Hospital for my weight loss surgery?

Drs. Andrew Averbach, Isam Hamdallah and Kuldeep Singh are the surgeons who perform bariatric surgery at Saint Agnes Hospital. Together, our highly experienced surgeons have performed more bariatric surgeries than any other hospital in Maryland, helping their patients to lose more than 400,000 pounds.

The American Society of Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery and the American College of Surgeons recognizes Saint Agnes and its bariatric surgeons as a Bariatric Center of Excellence. Our surgeons are board certified, members of the AMSBS and SAGES, and fellows in the American College of Surgeons.

Why do you require I see a nutritionist before surgery?

We require all patients see one of our bariatric dieticians before their procedures, as well as attend nutrition classes. Your diet will change dramatically after surgery, and these specialized dieticians will give you the information and the tools to help make your surgery successful.

How long do I have to stay in the hospital?

Your length of stay is determined by how well you’re progressing after surgery. Gastric band patients may go home the same day or early the next day, while sleeve and bypass patients typically stay up to two nights.

How often will I need to see the doctor after my surgery?

Your surgeon must medically supervise any surgical weight-loss procedure. We see our patients frequently after surgery to monitor your progress. After your weight-loss goals are met, we will see you once per year for the rest of your life.

 

Eligibility & Insurance Coverage

What doctors are performing bariatric surgery at Saint Agnes Hospital?

Drs. Andrew Averbach, Isam Hamdallah, Kuldeep Singh and David vonReuden are the surgeons who perform bariatric surgery at Saint Agnes Hospital. Together, our highly experienced surgeons have performed more bariatric surgeries than any other hospital in Maryland.

The American Society of Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery and the American College of Surgeons recognizes Saint Agnes and its bariatric surgeons as a Bariatric Center of Excellence. Our surgeons are board certified, members of the AMSBS and SAGES, and fellows in the American College of Surgeons.

Is bariatric surgery safe?

A surgical procedure of any kind will always involve a certain degree of risk, and bariatric surgery is no exception. However, with the development of new procedures and advancements in technology, bariatric surgery is a relatively safe solution to morbid obesity. Today, the overall risk of weight loss surgery is fairly low with most patients experiencing few, if any, complications. This is not to minimize the fact that this is still a serious operation. Once a bariatric surgeon has determined that you are a candidate for weight-loss surgery, it is important that you reveal all pertinent medical information to your surgical team. The bariatric surgeon will assess the risks involved with your particular surgery and take every precaution necessary to reduce the risk of complications and ensure your safety. Regardless of the type of weight loss surgery, it is important that the decision to undergo surgery is carefully thought out. It’s imperative to weigh the risks of surgery with the long-term risks of remaining obese. Discuss any concerns you might have with your surgical team and your outside support system (family, friends).

Do I qualify for bariatric surgery?

Morbid obesity brings with it a plethora of health issues that, if left untreated, will substantially shorten life expectancy. The following criteria are characteristic of a morbidly obese individual and could qualify you for weight-loss surgery:

  • BMI (Body Mass Index) of over 40
  • A BMI of 35-40 accompanied by significant life-threatening medical conditions such as type II diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and severe sleep apnea
  • Inability to maintain a healthy body weight after numerous attempts to achieve weight loss with diet, exercise, medication, hypnosis, therapy, or a combination of methods

It’s important to note that weight-loss surgery is not the answer for everyone who suffers from obesity. The operation is an elective procedure, so it’s imperative that you are well informed on the potential risks and benefits involved. Also, the surgery is not a guarantee to produce and maintain long-term weight loss. It’s only the beginning of a lifelong commitment to healthy living that is essential if you are to succeed. Even prior to your operation, you will begin the process of making important lifestyle and behavior changes to increase your chances of experiencing lasting weight loss and continued good health.

Which procedure is best for me and who makes that decision?

For some patients, one procedure may be better than the other. Our experienced surgeons will consider your wishes and medical condition, then discuss your options at your appointment to make the best choice for you.

Does insurance cover weight-loss surgery?

Having health insurance does not guarantee you will be covered for weight-loss surgery. Since the cost of these procedures can be expensive, most patients would not even consider it an option if it were not for insurance or low interest financing. Although weight-loss surgery is still considered an elective procedure, your insurance carrier may cover it. For this reason, it’s important that you fully understand what is and is not covered by your insurance provider. To assist you through this process, each surgeon’s office has an authorization specialist who will help you determine your insurance company’s requirements and submit you for coverage after you have met the criteria.

Once your surgeon’s office has submitted your claim, it’s a simple matter of waiting for your insurance provider to respond. At times it can be a frustrating and discouraging process, but don’t give up. If your claim is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision. Being denied coverage for surgery happens to many patients, and this initial setback does not mean that you’ve reached the end of the road. Some insurance providers may initially deny bariatric surgery claims automatically the first time they’re submitted and can be more receptive to follow-up appeal letters.

Does Medicare cover the procedure?

Yes, Medicare covers gastric bypass and gastric banding as long as the procedures are performed in a Bariatric Center of Excellence, such as Saint Agnes. Medicare does require that patients complete a program of diet and exercise prior to giving authorization. Information on these requirements can be provided by your surgeon’s office. (Please note that the sleeve procedure is not covered by Medicare.)

I’ve heard a lot of people regain their weight. Can you tell me how?

Weight-loss surgery is a tool that helps many patients lose weight and improve their health. Surgery can help you achieve these goals, but most of the work that is done to lose weight and keep it off occurs after the surgery. Patients must be committed to eating healthy and exercising for the rest of their lives. Surgery is not a magic cure, but a method to assist you.

Why do you require a psychological evaluation preoperatively?

Psychological evaluations are a recommendation of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, as well as most insurance companies. This helps evaluate your emotional health and preparedness for surgery. At Saint Agnes, we will not operate on patients who do not fill this requirement.

Why do you require I see a nutritionist before surgery?

We require all patients see one of our bariatric dietitians before their procedures, as well as attend nutrition classes. Your diet will change dramatically after surgery, and these specialized dietitians will give you the information and the tools to help make your surgery successful.

How do I make an appointment?

We ask that all patients call their insurance company prior to scheduling an appointment to check if bariatric surgery is covered under their medical plan. The code for bypass is 43644, sleeve is 43775 and gastric banding is 43770. All patients also should have a primary care physician prior to coming in to the office.

When you attend one of our free information sessions, you will receive information on how to contact the surgeon from that evening’s presentation. The surgeon’s office will give you instructions on what information you will need to bring to your first appointment.

OK, I’m ready! How long does it take to schedule surgery?

Surgery can usually be scheduled within 6 months of your comprehensive visit. Insurance approval is a pre-requisite for many patients, however, finance options are available should insurance not cover the entire cost of surgery. Once you decide to have the surgery, you will come in monthly for supervised weight loss. After you have met all criteria for insurance approval, we will submit your claim to your insurance carrier. Once the approval is obtained, you will be contacted and given a surgery date. All of your pre-op tests and evaluations need to be completed two weeks before surgery.

 

About The Surgery

Does laparoscopic surgery decrease the risk?

Laparoscopic procedures carry the same risks as similar procedures performed as open operations, though at a reduced rate in experienced hands. The benefits of laparoscopy typically are less discomfort, shorter hospital stay, earlier return to work, and reduced wound complications and scarring.

How long does the operation last?

Typically, the gastric bypass requires a total time in the operating room of 2-4 hours—the operation itself takes 1-3 hours. Gastric banding typically takes 1 hour. The sleeve typically takes 1-1 ½ hours.

Will I have a lot of pain?

Pain perception is a very individual sensation. In general, laparpscopic surgery is associated with less pain then open surgery. Some people require minimal to no pain medications, while others may require them for 2-3 weeks.

How long do I have to stay in the hospital?

Your length of stay is determined by how well you’re progressing after surgery. Gastric band patients may go home the same day or early the next day, while sleeve and bypass patients typically stay up to two nights.

Will I have a tube coming out of my nose after surgery?

We do not typically insert a nastrogastric tube.

Will I have a drain?

If you are having gastric bypass or gastric sleeve surgery, you will have a Jackson Pratt drain, which is a small drain that has a bulb on the end to remove any accumulation of fluid in the abdomen. This will be removed at your first post-op appointment and may produce only minor discomfort, if any discomfort at all.

How soon will I be able to walk?

You should be able to walk almost immediately after surgery. Patients walk or stand at the bedside on the night of surgery, and take several walks the next day and thereafter. On leaving the hospital, you should be able to care for all of your personal needs, however, you will need help with shopping and transportation.

How soon can I drive?

It is recommended that you do not drive until you have stopped taking narcotic medications, and can move quickly and alertly to stop your car, especially in an emergency. This is for your safety and the others on the road. Usually this takes several days after surgery.

How long will I need to take off from work?

Most gastric band patients are back to work in 2-4 weeks and gastric bypass/sleeve patients in 3-4 weeks. Time off can vary depending on the type of work you do and level of physical exertion required.

 

Life After Surgery

How often will I need to see the doctor after my surgery?

Your surgeon must medically supervise any surgical weight-loss procedure. We see our patients frequently after surgery to monitor your progress. After your weight-loss goals are met, we will see you once per year for the rest of your life.

Are there special dietary requirements after surgery?

Yes. During your pre-op nutrition education classes, our nutritionists will give you details about the eating habits that minimize discomfort and promote the best outcomes.

Why is exercise so important?

When you have bariatric surgery, you lose weight because the amount of calories you are able to eat is much less than your body needs to operate. As a result, your body has to make up the difference by burning unused tissues. Your body will burn any unused muscle first before it begins to burn the precious fat it has saved. If you do not exercise daily, your body will consume your unused muscle, causing you to lose muscle mass and strength. Daily aerobic exercise, as well as regular strength training, will communicate to your body that you want to use your muscles and force it to burn the fat instead.

Is pregnancy a possibility after surgery?

We advise gastric bypass and sleeve patients to wait 18-24 months after surgery before trying to become pregnant due to increased risk to the fetus. Gastric banding patients can become pregnant any time post-surgery. We advise that the band be loosened as soon as pregnancy is confirmed. Please note that when the band is loosened, it will allow more food into the stomach, which will slow weight loss. Therefore, band patients may wish to wait to become pregnant until after they have achieved their weight-loss goals.

 

Get More Answers

Complete this form below for a complete checklist to help guide your weight loss journey.

Get All the Facts

Complete the form below for a complete checklist to help guide your weight loss journey.

Contact Us

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Call: 1-866-690-WELL(9355)

 

Patient Success Stories

Discover inspirational stories from patients who had their weight loss surgeries performed at Saint Agnes Hospital.

 

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