Pre-surgery requirements

If you're approved for gastric bypass surgery, your health care team gives you instructions about how to prepare in the months or weeks before the surgery. These instructions may include restrictions on eating and drinking, undergoing lifestyle counseling to help you cope with big changes in diet and exercise, quitting smoking, and starting a supervised physical activity program. In some cases, you may be required to lose weight before having gastric bypass surgery.

Even after gastric bypass surgery is scheduled, it can be delayed or canceled if your health care team determines that:

  • You're not psychologically or medically ready for surgery
  • You haven't made appropriate changes in your eating or exercise habits
  • You gain weight during the evaluation process

Preparing financially for gastric bypass surgery

If it's determined that gastric bypass surgery is appropriate for you, you will still have financial hurdles to negotiate. If you plan to rely on health insurance coverage for your gastric bypass surgery, you likely need to get preapproval from your health insurance company, Medicare or your state medical assistance program — whoever you have insurance through. The preapproval process typically requires documentation from your team of doctors that justifies your medical need for gastric bypass surgery.

Different health insurers have different requirements to prove your medical need for gastric bypass surgery. Your health insurer may not cover gastric bypass surgery at all or may cover only parts of the process. In some cases, you may have to meet requirements, such as losing a specific amount of weight or following a formal diet plan, before your insurance will grant approval. To avoid unpleasant financial surprises, check to see what specific services are covered before starting the evaluation process. You may have to pay for some portion of the costs yourself.

Gastric bypass surgery: Is it for you?

Gastric bypass surgery isn't a miracle procedure — and it isn't for everyone. Having gastric bypass or other weight-loss surgery doesn't guarantee that you'll lose all your excess weight or that you'll keep it off over the long term. Nor is it a way to avoid making changes in your diet and exercise habits. In fact, you can regain the weight you lose with gastric bypass surgery if you don't stick with the lifestyle changes. But if you think gastric bypass surgery might be right for you, talk with your doctor.

Oct. 06, 2011 See more In-depth