Surgery FAQs

Q: Who is a candidate for Bariatric Surgery? Do I qualify?

A: To be accepted for Bariatric Surgery, you must meet the following NIH criteria:

  • More than 100 lbs. over your ideal body weight, or
  • Have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of over 40 – calculate your BMI using the calculator on the left of the page
  • Have a BMI >/= 30 and are experiencing severe negative health effects, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, related to being severely overweight
  • Have attempted, through medically-supervised dieting, to achieve a healthy body weight for a sustained period of time.

Q: What will my diet be like after surgery?

A: To help prevent nausea and other complications, you must follow a progressive diet in the first weeks after your gastric bypass surgery. Your surgeon, nurse and dietician will monitor your progress and guide you through each stage.

  • Weeks 0-2: Liquid diet consisting of soups, protein shakes, and other nutritious liquid foods.
  • Weeks 2-4: Soft/pureed diet consisting of high-protein foods such as cottage cheese and puréed meats.
  • Weeks 4-6: Normal texture food.

Q: Will I be sick a lot after the operation?

A: Gastric Banding Surgery limits food intake. If you feel nauseous or sick on a regular basis, it may mean that you are not chewing your food well enough or that you are not following the diet rules properly. However, it could also mean that there is a problem with the placement of the band and/or fill level, so contact Columbia Bariatric if this problem persists. Vomiting should be avoided as much as possible as it can cause the small stomach pouch to stretch, it can also lead to slippage of part of the stomach and reduce the success of the operation. In some cases, it could require another operation.

Q: How long will it take to recover after surgery? 

A: If Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Banding surgery is performed, patients typically spend less than 24 hours in the hospital. Most patients return to work in about a week and to moderate exercise in about a month to 6 weeks. In the case of open surgery, or if there are complications, recovery may take longer.

Q: How much weight will I lose? 

A: Weight loss results vary from patient to patient, and the amount of weight you lose depends on several things. For example, the gastric band needs to be in the right position and at the appropriate volume (tightness). Also, you need to be committed to your new lifestyle and eating habits. Weight loss surgery is not a miracle cure, and the pounds won’t come off by themselves. It is very important to set achievable weight loss goals from the start. A weight loss of 2 to 3 pounds a week in the first year after the LAP-BAND is possible, but 1 pound a week is more likely. Twelve to 18 months after the operation, weekly weight loss is usually less. Gradual, yet steady weight loss is healthy for you. The main goal is to have weight loss that prevents, improves, or resolves health problems connected with severe obesity.

Q: How do the weight-loss results with the Gastric Band compare to those with the gastric bypass?

A: Surgeons have reported that gastric bypass patients lose weight faster in the first year. At 2 years, however, many Gastric Banding patients have achieved weight loss comparable to that of gastric bypass patients. You should focus on long-term weight loss and remember that it is important to lose weight in a healthy fashion while reducing obesity-related risks and improving your health.

Q: Does the Gastric Band System require frequent office visits after surgery? 

A: Check-ups with your doctor are a normal and very important part of the Gastric Band System follow-up. Adjustments may be performed during some of these visits. The first fill is usually 4 weeks after surgery. Repeat adjustments to the band are typically done every 2 weeks thereafter for the first three months. Beyond the first three months, we like to see our patients every 1 to 3 months depending on how they are doing with the band. After the first year we usually see our patients every 3 to 6 months as needed.

Q: Does Bariatric Surgery limit any physical activity?

A: Gastric Banding surgery will not hamper any physical activity, including aerobics, stretching, and strenuous exercise. Typically strenuous exercise is discouraged in the first few weeks after surgery.

Q: How is the Gastric Band adjusted? 

A: Adjustments are typically carried out in the office. Local anesthesia may or may not be needed. A special needle is passed through the skin into the access port to add or subtract saline. This process most often takes only a few minutes and most patients say it is nearly painless.

Q: Do I have to be careful with the access port just underneath my skin? 

A: The access port is placed under the skin in the abdominal wall, and once the incisions have healed, it should not cause discomfort or limit any physical exercise. The only sensation you may experience from the port occurs when you go in for adjustments. If you feel persistent discomfort in the port area, let us know as soon as possible.

Q: Can other people see that I have a port? 

A: The port is placed under your skin and is generally not noticeable even if that area of your abdomen is exposed.

Q: Can the Gastric Band be removed?

A: Although the Adjustable Gastric Band is not meant to be removed, it can be, in some cases laparoscopically. Surgeons report that the stomach generally returns to its original shape once the band is removed. After the removal, though, you may gain more weight.

Q: Will I need plastic surgery for the surplus skin when I have lost a lot of weight?

A: That is not always the case. As a rule, plastic surgery will not be considered for at least a year or two after the operation since the skin will sometimes mold itself around the new body tissue. Give the skin the time it needs to adjust before you decide to have more surgery.

Q: Will I feel hungry or deprived after weight loss surgery? 

A: The Gastric Band System helps you eat less and feel full in two ways—first by reducing the capacity of your stomach, and second, by increasing the time it takes food to get through the digestive system.  If you follow the nutrition guidelines when you choose your food and then chew it well, you should not feel hungry or deprived. Remember that bariatric surgery is a tool to help you change your eating habits.

Q: What about pregnancy?

A: Becoming pregnant can be easier as you lose weight. Your menstrual cycle may become more regular and make it easier for you to become pregnant. It is strongly recommended that you delay any pregnancies for the first 12-18 months following surgery.

Q: Will I need to take vitamin supplements?

A: All bariatric patients are placed on multivitamin because it’s possible to not get enough vitamins from three small meals a day.

Q: What about other medication?

A: You should be able to take prescribed medication, though you may need to use capsules. Break big tablets in half or dissolve them in water, so they do not get stuck in the stoma and make you sick. Always ask the doctor who prescribes the drugs about this. You may need to avoid taking aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain relievers (like ibuprofen) because they may irritate the stomach.

Q: What if I go out to eat?

A: Order only a small amount of food, such as an appetizer. Eat slowly. Finish at the same time as your table companions. You might want to let your host or hostess know in advance that you cannot eat very much.

Q: What about alcohol? 

A: Alcohol has a high number of calories and breaks down vitamins. After your weight loss goals have been met, an occasional glass of wine or other alcoholic beverage, though, is not considered harmful .

Q: Can I eat anything in moderation?

A: After your stomach has healed, you may eat most foods that don’t cause you discomfort. However, because you can only eat a little, it is important to include foods full of important vitamins and nutrients, advised by your surgeon and/or dietitian. If you eat foods with high sugar and fat content or drink liquids full of “empty” calories, such as milkshakes, the effect of the band may be greatly reduced or even cancelled.

Q: Will I suffer from constipation? 

A: There may be some reduction in the volume of your stools, which is normal after a decrease in food intake, because you eat less fiber. This should not cause you severe problems. If difficulties do arise, your doctor may advise you to take a mild laxative and drink plenty of water for a while. Your needs will vary, but you should drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water a day.

1. O’Brien PE, Dixon JB. Lap-Band®: outcomes and results. J Laparoendosc Adv Surg Tech A. 2003;13:265-270.
2. Clegg AJ, Colquitt J, Sidhu MK, et al. The clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of surgery for people with morbid obesity: a systematic review and economic evaluation.Health Technol Assess. 2002;6:1-153.
3. Dixon JB, Dixon AF, O’Brien PE. Light to moderate alcohol consumption: obesity and the metabolic syndrome. Am J Bariat Med. 2002;17:11-14