As the obesity epidemic continues, you may have decided you no longer wish to be a statistic and want to improve your health and quality of life by losing weight. You may have unsuccessfully tried losing weight through diet and exercise on your own, became frustrated, and are now ready to get some help.
You choose to have bariatric surgery, you are hopeful, you are excited, and you are ready to do it now! You contact a bariatric surgeon, set up a consultation, and are ready to schedule a date and get started! Then, during your consultation, you find out that there is a process that must be followed, and qualifications that must be met before an individual can have bariatric surgery.
If you are wondering how long from your consultation to your bariatric surgery date, keep reading! This article should prepare you for what to expect.
How Fast Can I Get Weight Loss Surgery?
The time between your decision to undergo bariatric surgery and the surgery date will vary depending on many factors. Some of these factors include:
- The prerequisites of your bariatric surgeon and their availability (schedule).
- If you are paying for the surgery yourself.
- If you are relying on medical insurance to cover some or all of your surgery. Your surgery timeframe will also depend on the qualifications and prerequisites of your insurance policy.
- Your schedule. You must have a viable plan to account for the surgery and recovery time. If you need to take off work, you must determine when and how you can do this. If you have small children you will need to make a plan for help during your initial recovery.
- Your commitment to completing and documenting each requirement.
Basic Prerequisites For Bariatric Surgery
First, you must meet the baseline criteria to qualify for bariatric surgery:
- Your body mass index (BMI) must be at least 40 or higher or you must be at least 100 pounds overweight or;
- Your body mass index must be at least 35 or more and you must suffer from at least one obesity-related condition such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, etc;
- You must have earnestly attempted to lose weight and failed.
Bariatric Surgery Requirements From The Surgeon
Next, you have to meet any qualifications required by your bariatric surgeon. These may include:
- Medical Tests (Labs)
- Depending on your medical history, these may include standard pre-operative labs such as blood count and chemistry panel as well as medical tests such as a gallbladder ultrasound and cardiac evaluation, or your testing may be more extensive.
- Psychological Testing
- Some bariatric surgeons require patients to undergo testing to ensure they are mentally ready for all that bariatric surgery entails.
- Sleep Study
- To ensure your safety during surgery, you may be required to undergo a sleep study where you will be observed for sleep apnea tendencies.
- Pre-Surgery Diet
- Before having bariatric surgery, patients are required to follow a specific diet to shrink their liver as well as a diet to jump-start their weight loss and better prepare for surgery. If the patient is unable to adhere to these dietary restrictions, the surgeon may delay or cancel the procedure.
Bariatric Surgery Requirements From Your Insurance Carrier
If your medical insurance is covering part or all of your bariatric surgery, they will have prerequisites for bariatric surgery that will be in addition to those required by the surgeon. Many of the requirements listed above are also required by most insurance carriers. Insurance carrier requirements may include:
- The patient might be required to meet age criteria – at least 18 years old;
- Meeting the BMI requirements and basic criteria for bariatric surgery candidacy;
- Psychological testing;
- Documented proof of six consecutive months of structured attempts at weight loss. This may include food or diet journals. For example, A six-month weight loss program such as Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig, Food journals and gym attendance, etc.
Here is the kicker: After you jump through all these hoops and meet every requirement, fulfill all the criteria, and provide the documentation of proof, many insurance carriers have a mandatory 6-month waiting period before an individual can undergo bariatric surgery!
So, if you were wondering how quickly you can have bariatric surgery, the answer is it can be a much slower process than you can imagine!
What Can I Do To Speed Things Up So It Doesn’t Take So Long From My Consultation To Bariatric Surgery?
If you would like to speed up the process and have bariatric surgery faster, there may be some things you can do to make that possible. Some things you can do include:
- Work with your primary care physician to get all your routine health tests completed as many of these must be done before undergoing bariatric surgery. Discuss your desire for weight loss surgery with your doctor and make a plan together to reach your goal. Your doctor may also order some of the specialized tests needed before you can undergo bariatric surgery because most of these tests are also used to diagnose other conditions. These tests will be “coded” as normal routine medical care and should be covered by your medical insurance. Many times if you have not been approved for bariatric surgery, insurance will not cover testing that is specifically coded for “weight loss”.
- Prepare documentation of any weight loss attempts you have made (within the last 2 years). If you can not meet this criterion then start a program and begin the documentation process. Most insurance companies require proof of a program that is at least six consecutive months. A six-month Weight Watchers program would be a good example.
- Choose a bariatric surgeon and provide them with your routine medical test results and with the surgeon’s help, determine the best plan to move forward.
- If you are a smoker, you will need to quit for at least several months before the surgeon will agree to perform bariatric surgery on you. Tobacco use creates much higher surgical risks.
- If you want to have bariatric surgery quickly, you may not be able to if your insurance policy has a waiting period.
- If you are paying for the procedure yourself then you only must meet the requirements of the bariatric surgeon. The surgeon has your best interest in mind and therefore it is important to provide them with everything they ask for.
What If I Don’t Want To Wait So Long For Bariatric Surgery?
If for some reason you do not meet the criteria for bariatric surgery, or you do not want to have to wait as long, you may want to consider a non-surgical weight loss procedure.
Non-surgical procedures are often excellent choices for individuals who do not qualify for bariatric surgery, do not want to fulfill the six-month waiting period requirements, or do not want to have surgery and endure the recovery that is associated with it
Procedures such as Suture Sculpt endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG) and the Orbera gastric balloon can help you lose weight without having to undergo surgery.
Suture Sculpt ESG works by reducing the size of your stomach through an endoscopic procedure. There are no incisions, no hospital stay, and no long recovery time needed. You will not be able to eat as much at each meal, you will stay feeling “full” longer and your dieting and exercising will start to show results.
The Orbera gastric balloon is a device that is placed into your stomach to take up space. It is placed in your stomach using an endoscope while it is deflated and then filled with a saline solution. The balloon takes up space in your stomach so you can not eat as much in one sitting and it provides that “full” feeling so you are not hungry all the time. Patients who use the Orbera balloon with their low-calorie diet and exercise weight loss program can lose 3 times as much weight as they could without the balloon.
If you want to lose weight without surgery and without exceptionally long waiting times, contact Batash Endoscopic Weight Loss Clinic today. Set up an appointment now and learn more about non-surgical weight loss solutions that may be right for you!