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About Weight-Loss Surgery

View our frequently asked questions to learn more about what you can expect with weight-loss surgery at Avera.

What should I know about obesity?

Obesity is extremely dangerous to one’s health. If your BMI exceeds 40, your life expectancy can be shortened by 15-20 or more years. The risk for stroke, heart attack and cancer also increases significantly.

What kinds of surgery do you do?

Learn more about weight-loss surgery option available at Avera.

How much can I expect to lose?

Weight loss success varies from patient to patient. For most patients, we aim for about 60 percent loss of excess weight. Typically, bariatric patients lose about 50 percent of their excess weight. For example, if your BMI is 40 and you need to lose 100 pounds to get to a BMI of 25, then you can expect to lose and maintain a 50-60 pound weight loss.

What is considered success for weight-loss surgery?

Weight loss success often depends on the type of procedure with the staple procedures being the most effective. However, you can be successful with any of our weight-loss surgery options. Keeping 50 percent of your excess weight off for more than five years after surgery is considered to be a success.

How do I know if I am a candidate for this surgery?

Typically, being 100 pounds overweight qualifies you for weight-loss surgery. However, body mass index (BMI) is a more accurate tool to evaluate a potential candidate. A BMI of 40 or more qualifies you for weight-loss surgery. However, a BMI of 35 along with an obesity-related problem — such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes or sleep apnea — can also qualify you for weight-loss surgery. Find your BMI with our BMI calculator.

How do I start the process to get weight-loss surgery?

First, attend one of our surgical weight-loss seminars – available both in-person and online. Next, contact your insurance company to ensure weight-loss surgery is a covered benefit. From there, call 605-334-0393 to schedule your first consult with a surgeon and registered dietitian.

Are there other options if my insurance company will not cover this procedure?

For weight-loss surgery, Avera partners with a third- party loan program called Union Bank. You can apply for a loan through this program. View the Union Bank loan terms or call 800-828-4450 to speak with a Union Bank representative.

What can I expect during my first appointment?

Most patients who come to Avera are self-referred or physician referred. During your initial appointment, you’ll meet with a surgeon to discuss your medical history, expectations required after surgery and the pros and cons of surgical procedures based on your personal goals, needs and circumstances. You’ll also meet with a registered dietitian to assess your current nutritional status. The length of time between your first consultation and surgery can take several weeks to ensure that you’re mentally and physically prepared.

What do I need to bring to my first appointment?

Before your consultation, you must complete a detailed health and lifestyle assessment form for the surgeon and registered dietitian. Failure to complete the information prior to your first consult will delay the process. Remember to bring your insurance card, including your insurance company’s fax number so that we can process your information efficiently.

How long until surgery is scheduled?

After meeting with a surgeon and dietitian, you will complete a psychological evaluation with a psychologist. Our team will meet to determine if you are physically and mentally prepared to be successful. Once our team agrees that you have the tools and motivation necessary to be successful, your information is submitted to the insurance company for approval. After approval, a second consultation takes place that discusses the offered procedures in depth. Then, surgery is scheduled. This entire process could take weeks to months before surgery is scheduled.

What if I’m anxious about this surgery?

Anxiety is a normal part of the surgery process. Thoroughly educating yourself can help ease worries and doubt. Contact your care team or our personal navigator at 605-322-1320 to get answers for your questions.

What is the surgical procedure?

Before weight-loss surgery, anesthesia is administered to help you fall sleep.

Lap band surgery takes approximately 30 to 45 minutes. After waking up, you’ll recover in the hospital for a few hours before receiving the approval to go home. Patients typically rest three to five days and return to work after a week or two.

If you choose either gastric bypass or gastric sleeve surgery, you can expect to stay in the hospital for two days after surgery and return to work one to two weeks after surgery.

What kind of lifestyle changes can I expect?

Your post-surgery diet is the most important element for your weight loss success. That’s why you’ll receive the guidance of a registered dietitian. Immediately after surgery, you begin a special diet of mostly liquids, gradually increasing to your normal diet. Weight loss surgery helps you control portions better simply because you can only eat very little at each meal.

What will my expected lifestyle changes be?

Weight-loss surgery is just a tool, and therefore, requires lifestyle changes. Before surgery, we thoroughly explain that you must change your diet to include healthier food choices, portion control and eating in response to hunger cues rather than emotional cues. Appropriate exercise is also necessary to increase the amount of weight loss as well as prevent weight regain.

Are there foods I have to avoid after weight-loss surgery?

Yes. Prior to surgery, you’ll receive thorough education about your post-surgery diet plan. You can also learn more by watching the bariatric surgery webinar.

How long will I have to follow the new food rules?

To maintain weight loss, your lifestyle changes of diet and exercise must be permanent. If you find yourself struggling to maintain your new lifestyle or if you regain some weight, contact us immediately for support. Do not allow negative emotions or shame to prevent you from reaching out for help. We are here for you even months and years after your weight- loss surgery.

How much food will I be able to eat at one time? Will that change over time?

Your first meal after surgery will be clear liquids (water, broth, sugar free Jello, etc.), sipping on approximately 1 ounce every 20 minutes. You will advance your diet slowly, from clear liquids to full liquids and then to soft solids for a few weeks.

If you received the lap band, you should be able to eat about a cup of food over 30 minutes after about four to six weeks. For gastric bypass and the sleeve gastrectomy, it will take about 12 weeks to eat a cup of food over 20-30 minutes.

What do I do when I go out to eat?

Eating out within the first couple of weeks after surgery should be avoided. It can be tricky, so knowing what’s on the menu and planning your meal beforehand is helpful. We recommend a protein and a carbohydrate, such as a fruit or vegetable. Restaurant portions are large, so take home at least half of your meal. A card from your surgeon even allows you to order half portions from the menu. Eat slowly and take your time.

Will I feel full or will I still feel hungry?

There are two types of hunger: head hunger, where you see and smell the food, and physical hunger, where there is an actual feeling of hunger. Listen to your body for physical hunger cues. And if you start to feel uncomfortable or full when eating, simply stop.

Is there support after I’ve had surgery?

Avera offers a full team of experts ready to guide you for lifelong success. The team includes dietitians, psychologists, nurses, pharmacists, doctors, health coaches and physical therapists. After surgery, we also encourage you to attend one of our support groups to find the encouragement you need to maintain weight loss results.

What can I expect during my follow-up appointments?

After bariatric surgery, you benefit from ongoing follow-up appointments, mostly for counseling. During this time, you can discuss challenges and receive the professional support you need to help you maintain weight loss. Lifestyle changes can be the most difficult part of the process so follow-up appointments are encouraged and available throughout your lifetime.

Start your weight-loss journey today!

If you want to experience the benefits of significant weight loss, simply fill out and submit this form. Then, you’ll have the opportunity to watch online seminars about Avera’s surgical and non-surgical procedures and find one that fits you best.

Sign up to learn more

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What Avera Weight-Loss Surgery Patients Say

Explore the personal stories of Upper Midwest residents who changed their lives with help from weight-loss surgery at Avera Health.

Live Better. Live Balanced. Avera.

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