Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if surgery is right for me?

There are several conditions patients must meet in order to be considered for bariatric surgery. These include:

  • being at least 18 years of age
  • being at least 100 pounds overweight
  • having a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater*
  • not using drugs or alcohol
  • not suffering from any psychosocial or medical problems that would make surgery unnecessarily risky
  • experiencing medical complications as a result of obesity
  • unable to lose weight through other methods.

Current medication conditions may additionally alter requirements for surgery.

* Note that BMI requirements may differ per insurance company.


If I am more than 100 pounds overweight, will I have to have surgery?

No! Surgery is not required of any patient. Medical therapy is an option for all patients.


What are the differences between the surgical procedures?

In gastric bypass, a small portion of the stomach is surgically stapled off into a small pouch. The small intestine is re-routed to the small pouch. The stomach empties through the pouch directly into the small intestine, where digestion would then take place.

In sleeve gastrectomy or gastric sleeve, a small pouch is sectioned off from the stomach, and a special ring, or band, is placed at the bottom of the pouch. Food is delayed in passing through the smaller opening created by the ring.

The LAP-BAND System is an adjustable banding system that is surgically implanted around the patient's stomach, creating a small pouch. The internal anatomy remains the same and this procedure is considered to be much less invasive. The band around the stomach consists of inflatable tubing that can be filled with small amounts of saline solution to increase satiety and encourage patients to eat progressively less, accelerating the weight loss.


How do I know what kind of surgery is the best for me?

Your surgeon will work with you to determine what type of surgery is best for you.


How do I know if my surgery will be successful?

There is no guarantee of success with any surgical procedure, but the overall complication rate for bariatric surgery is less than 10 percent – and most complications are minor. However, you can help increase your chances for a successful surgery by:

  • Not smoking or drinking alcohol prior to or following surgery.
  • Drinking water and avoiding caffeine.
  • Begin exercising, if you are able, before surgery.
  • Join a support group to receive the support and encourage you'll need after surgery.


Why should I have bariatric surgery at the Franciscan Midwest Bariatric Institute?

In addition to providing advanced bariatric surgery techniques and equipment, board-certified surgeons, and the comfort of spacious, private rooms, the Franciscan Midwest Bariatric Institute features a highly skilled staff, including:

  • registered nurses and dietitians
  • behavioral counselors
  • fitness experts at Franciscan Omni Health & Fitness
  • insurance/financial counselors.

These professionals work with you to customize an individual pre-surgery and post-surgery program that will give you the knowledge and support you need to succeed at your weight loss goals. That support, together with Franciscan St. Margaret's mission of "continuing Christ's ministry in our Franciscan tradition," ensures every patient is treated holistically – body, mind and spirit.


How long will it take to recover?

Most patients are in the hospital for four to five days after surgery. A physician will follow patients to reassess their medical status throughout the first year and annually after that.


What are possible complications?

The overall complication rate is less than 10% but most of these are minor. Some of the more serious complications include internal leakage and bleeding that may require re-operation, blood clots in the legs, and infections.


Will insurance cover my surgery?

Reimbursement rates for bariatric surgery and related procedures vary among insurance companies. All insurance companies that provide reimbursement for bariatric surgery procedures require that the patients are at least 100 pounds overweight. The Franciscan Midwest Bariatric Institute has insurance specialists who will work with potential patients to get coverage for services.

Read tips on dealing with your insurance company.


I've heard you can now deduct weight-loss expenses. Is this true?

Under certain circumstances, weight-loss expenses prescribed by a doctor may be tax-deductible. Consult a tax adviser for more information.


What if I have no insurance or insurance does not cover my surgery?

Some patients choose to pay for surgery themselves. You should contact the Franciscan Midwest Bariatric Institute to discuss this option. We offer some of the most affordable self-pay options in the Midwest.