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Jonathan C. Gipson, MD

How to Prepare for Bariatric Surgery

July 1, 2019 | By Jonathan Gipson, MD, FACS

Congratulations! You’ve decided to take a big step toward improving the quality of your life by considering bariatric surgery. Losing significant weight can prevent or cure many life-threatening illnesses, and can help you reduce or eliminate the need for medications to treat weight-related conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, degenerative joint disease and 13 different cancers. We know that losing a significant amount of weight by yourself is very difficult, even with coaching, medicine, trainers, and psychological support. Rest assured that we will support your efforts before, during, and after bariatric surgery.

There are three classes of obesity. Class I is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher, Class II is a BMI of 35-40, and Class III is a BMI of 40 or more. The National Institutes of Health and the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) recommend considering surgical intervention if you are a Class III patient or a Class II patient with medical complications.

At Specialists in General Surgery, we are careful to prepare our bariatric surgery patients prior to their operation. You will participate in a three-to-six-month in-person and online education and screening process. We will review your medical history and offer any screenings you might need, such as colonoscopy, upper endoscopy or mammogram. You also will meet with our program manager to discuss healthy habits, including diet and exercise, and consult with a pharmacist to manage any medications you might be taking.

If you smoke, you will need to stop several months prior to surgery. Nicotine causes vasospasms and decreases oxygen delivery to blood vessels, interfering with wound healing. In fact, wound infection is five times higher for smokers, the rate of ulcers after stomach surgery is higher, and staple line leak rates are higher. So, if you smoke, quit now!

You also will be asked to undergo a psychological evaluation to ensure you are ready for the surgery and the recovery period. Developing a good support system among your family and friends is key.

The decision to pursue bariatric surgery is a big one – but for most patients, the risks of severe obesity outweigh any risks associated with bariatric surgery. If you’ve chosen Specialists in General Surgery for your bariatric surgery, you’ve come to the right place. We look forward to working with you to achieve your weight loss goals.