The first step to bariatric surgery with my medical group, after you accept that you need help, is to get a referral from your PCP and attend an Information Session.
My medical group won’t even allow me to make an appointment without having attended this info session first. I actually really like this. I like that they want you to be informed about what is expected of you and what they are going to be doing to your body. I went to see my PCP on Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017 and I attended an information session on Thursday, May 25th, 2017. They hold the information session once a month and I did not want to wait. I also have a work schedule that can change in an instant (the joys of owning your own business)… I knew I was available that Thursday, I did not, however, know whether or not I would be available on the date of the June info session. More importantly, they highly recommend you bring someone from your support group with you – for me that would be my amazing fiancee…who is also my business partner…so the chances of both of us being available in June were slim.
I am so glad that we went! This weight loss team consists of 3 surgeons, 3 Nurse Practitioners, a psychologist, a dietitian. The info session was led by one of the NP’s and one of the surgeons. I was warned beforehand that the info session would last about an hour and a half. They started off with a short video of the team and process. The surgeon then took over and went into the 4 main bariatric surgery options and their success rates/info AND the dangers/complications that could pop up for each one respectively. This is then followed by a Q&A portion and a former patient testimonial (if available).
The 4 main bariatric surgeries are Gastric Bypass, Sleeve Gastrectomy, Adjustable Gastric Band, and Duodenal Switch. All four of these are laparoscopic procedures. The adjustable gastric band isn’t highly recommended due to less-than-great results and complications, which often require that the procedure be reversed. The duodenal switch is not really an option for me as my insurance doesn’t cover it.
After listening to everything I am mainly between the gastric bypass and the sleeve gastrectomy. Gastric bypass has a higher success rate, but also has more risks… they basically mess with your stomach and your small intestine. The sleeve produces less weight loss, but doesn’t require as much anatomical manipulation other than your stomach. If I were diabetic I would be looking at the gastric bypass as my main option, but I’m not. The thing that worries me the most about the sleeve is that it can cause heartburn and/or reflux in 20% of cases. I have had reflux-like symptoms twice and they were AWFUL – so that worries me a bit. This will be a discussion and decision that I will be having/making in the future with my doctors.
The thing I really liked about this group is that they really stress that this is a tool. It is not a quick fix and if you don’t use it in addition to other lifestyle changes (namely diet and exercise) you will not have long-term success. This group is a Level 1A Accredited Bariatric Center of Excellence, which is the highest level of accreditation given by the American College of Surgeons. They complete about 300 weight loss surgeries per year, have a 0% death rate, and the last time they had to open up a laproscopic surgery was in 2006 (maybe 2004, I forget the exact year). They also require more than just an information session. They are very in-depth and require you to take classes on nutrition and whatnot, lose weight before your surgery, and lots more, which I will talk about more in-depth as I go through this journey.
The next step once you attend the information session is to make an appointment for a consultation. The consultation is a 4-hour appointment – you have to talk to a psychologist, dietitian, and lots more. I have my consultation appointment on Tuesday, June 6th, 2017. I’ll let you all know how that goes and what the next steps are from there.
Wish me luck!