Let's talk about many of the questions that I get from my patients when they come to my office. One of the first questions people ask me is do I qualify for surgery? How much do I have to weigh? For weight loss surgery there is a weight requirement. The insurance companies and your surgeons will look at your BMI.
Your BMI or your body mass index, which is a number that's calculated by dividing your weight by your height, is a number that helps to determine if you qualify for surgery. If your BMI is 35 or greater and you have another illness that's related to being overweight such as diabetes, sleep apnea, or high blood pressure, just to name a few, then you will qualify. If your BMI is 40 or greater then you do qualify for weight loss surgery, even if you're not taking any other medications.
Another question that I'm asked many times is how much weight will I lose? And that really depends. That depends on which surgery you choose and that depends on the kinds of lifestyle changes that you are willing to make. But I can tell you that on average, for especially the sleeve and the gastric bypass, patients will lose about 65% of their excess body weight in about a year and a half. That comes out to being about 100 pounds in about a year or a year and a half.
The band is a little bit less. With the gastric band you can be expected to lose probably about 40 to 50% of your excess body weight, in about a year and half to two years, and that's about one to two pounds per week.
Many people want to know is weight loss surgery safe? And I can tell you that yes, weight loss surgery overall, is safe. But any time we're going to operate on somebody, we need to have a discussion with the patient and we need to talk to you about risks and benefits. So we need to decide are the benefits of the surgery greater than the risks? And what you need to ask yourself is what are the risks of being overweight, and if I don't do anything about it now, what's going to happen?
Many patients also want to know if their insurance will cover it. If you meet the BMI requirements chances are your insurance will cover weight loss surgery. Some insurances do have an exclusion in their policy but overall, I think most insurances are realizing that weight loss surgery is a very effective means of treating obesity, and so they will cover it. Weight loss surgery is safe, and it's much safer now than it used to be, because we're able to do the surgeries with very small incisions and many times you're home the day after surgery. I hope this answers some of your questions about weight loss surgery.