Banner Health Services  

Gastric Bypass Surgery
Frequently Asked Questions


Question:  What is a realistic amount recovery time needed for gastric bypass surgery?

Answer: A minimum of 2-3 weeksis realistic for gastric bypass surgery depending on the surgeon’s preference, individual recovery needs, and the job demands of each patient.

Question: Average length of time from consultation until surgery date?

Answer: Average length of time from consultation to surgery varies:

  • Insurance requirements
  • surgeon availability
  • preoperative requirements

are all variables that influence length of time to gastric bypass surgery.

Question: I've had my gallbladder out; can I still get gallstones from rapid weight loss after gastric bypass surgery?

Answer: No, you cannot get gallstones after your gallbladder has been removed.

Question: Hair loss. Would Rogaine, Biotin, or something similar help with decreasing possible hair loss post-op?

Answer: Anesthesia is known to cause hair loss in some people. You may experience some temporary hair loss after gastric bypass surgery secondary to very low calorie intake and protein deficiency. You can increase the intake of some vitamins and minerals to attempt to minimize the hair loss. Some of these are biotin, vitamin A, zinc, vitamin C, and a few herbs.

Yes, minoxodil (generic for Rogaine) applied as directed can stimulate new hair growth.

Question: How do you take pills immediately post-op when you aren't eating?

Answer: We advise patients to take pills one at a time, and throughout the day if possible. For very large pills, we advise that you cut them in half or crush them ONLY if they are NOT time release medications.

Question: How long after surgery until I could go swimming? In a pool? In the ocean? Snorkeling?

Answer: You can swim and take a bath when all wounds are completely healed. Salt or fresh water activities are fine.

Question: Realistically, how much weight should I be able to lose successfully with weight loss surgery and keep off long-term?

Answer: If you are like most people, you should be able to lose between 50 and 80% of your excess weight. Excess weight is your present weight minus your ideal body weight. Long-term, patients tend to gain back some of their earlier losses if they are not exercising regularly and not follow our nutritional recommendations.

Question: What is the difference in recovery time between laparoscopic gastric bypass vs. open gastric bypass?

Answer: With no complications, lap GBP patients go home the 2nd or 3rd post-op day. Open patients stay a day or two longer. Normal activities are usually resumed after 21 days with Lap-Band; a week or two longer for open GBP patients.

Question: Once the insurance approves the surgery, is there a time limit for the surgery to be performed?

Answer: Yes, insurance companies usually have a 2-6 month time limit on how long they will approve the procedure before you must resubmit the request.

Question: I read that you shouldn't drink carbonated beverages after weight loss surgery. Is this a lifetime restriction? Is it okay if you let them go flat first?

Answer: We recommend no carbonated beverages. Most patients cannot tolerate the carbonation. Yes, you can drink sugar free soda if you allow it to go flat.

Question: Are sugarless beverages, foods, etc. okay after weight loss surgery? Such as things sweetened with Splenda or Nutrasweet, etc.?

Answer: After gastric bypass surgery, patients will substitute sugary drinks with those sweetened with artificial sweeteners due to the propensity for simple sugars to trigger dumping syndrome. All of the artificial sweeteners are okay to use. Most dietitians recommend Splenda or Stevia.

Question: I read in your material that you must take vitamin supplements the rest of your life after surgery. Are these special prescriptions that you purchase through your health insurance, or do you have to get over-the-counter? Some of those are very large pills…do some of them come in liquid form to make them easier to take after the surgery?

Answer: The supplements required after gastric bypass vary among surgeons. In general, gastric bypass patients are requested to take a good multivitamin, calcium with vitamin D, iron, and B12. With the exception of some iron supplements, most of these are over-the-counter. Insurance will often cover B12 injections if required by your surgeon.

Question: Will I be able to eat fresh fruits eventually after surgery?

Answer: Most patients are able to eat fresh fruit in small amounts, but raw fruits are limited in the first phases of most post-op regimens. You may never be able to tolerate apple skins, pear skins, or other such fibrous parts of the fruit. Incidentally, fruit juice should be taken in great moderation due to the high calorie content of juice.

Question: Explain how the size of the pouch is determined during the surgery? Is it guesswork or done with the aid of an instrument?

Answer: The size of the pouch is not guesswork; most surgeons create a pouch that is ½ to 1 ounce in capacity. The pouch stretches over time to accommodate small meals.

Question: I've heard that insurance requires you to have failed at a 'medically supervised weight loss plan.' Does Optifast qualify for that requirement?

Answer: Insurance carriers are very individual in what they require. I do know that Optifast and Medifast qualify. Check your policy or call them to clarify this issue. These expensive programs are not necessary. Medically supervised weight loss attempt can be proven through monthly weigh-ins at the doctor’s office (usually 6 months in duration), and a simple low calorie diet and exercise program.

Question: Do you know if insurance requires a psychiatric evaluation before approving the surgery?

Answer: The need for a psychological evaluation will be determined by both your insurance carrier and the bariatric team at the Banner program you choose. Most surgeons require a psychological screening before surgery

Question: If so, do you recommend a psychiatrist/psychologist for me to see?

Answer: Each Banner Bariatric program has psychologists that they recommend. Your insurance may require that you use their list of providers.

Question: What about caffeine? Is that an 'okay' thing after this surgery? If not, why not?

Answer: Some surgeons discourage caffeine in the immediate post-op period due to risk of dehydration. Consult your surgeon for his or her requirements.

Question: I've read that my blood sugars may normalize within just a few days after the surgery. Does the diabetes actually 'go away' or is it like it is 'in remission'? Will I need to consider myself diabetic for the rest of my life?

Answer: After gastric bypass surgery, many if not most patients experience a full remission of their type II diabetes soon after surgery. If weight loss is maintained over the long term, the literature shows that diabetes is unlikely to return.

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