Category: Planning

Researching Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Gastric sleeve surgery is one of the biggest lifestyle changes you could ever make. As an option of last resort, you should know as much as you can before you consider having the surgery. At the very least, you should know when surgery has become an option, and the life changes you are expected to make before and after the surgery.

Rushing into gastric sleeve surgery without research can be disastrous. You will not know if surgery is even necessary (which makes it more dangerous), and you will not be prepared for the pre- and post-operative changes. It is best to prepare, so you will be able to set your mentality for the long-term, and constantly encourage yourself.  

Best Ways to Research Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Attend Gastric Sleeve Surgery Seminars

The best way to start researching gastric sleeve surgery is to attend an in-person seminar that covers the basics of that surgery. A seminar is usually conducted by an expert on weight loss and gastric sleeve surgery, to a group of people. There are quite a few benefits of attending an in-person seminar in your area or conducted by the hospital you are interested in having surgery at.

First, the seminars happen on a set schedule. You can easily write them into your own schedule, instead of planning to research during your free time. Second, seminars are group activities. You can meet others who are considering surgery, and begin to develop your support network as early as now. This is important for your mental and emotional health.

Third, a seminar usually has portions for question and answer. If you were confused about something during the seminar, or if they did not touch upon something you wanted to know, you can simply ask. Some seminar providers, like Realize, actually let you meet your potential surgeons during the seminar.

Who usually provides gastric sleeve surgery seminars?

• General hospitals which provide gastric sleeve surgery

• Community hospitals which provide gastric sleeve surgery

• Surgical centers which provide gastric sleeve surgery

How can you find a gastric sleeve surgery seminar near you?

• Search through a seminar directory like Realize or Gastric Sleeve Centers

• Email or call your local hospital and ask if they conduct gastric sleeve surgery seminars

Are there online gastric sleeve surgery seminars you can attend?

Definitely. In some cases, you might prefer to watch an online seminar before attending an in-person seminar or seeking further consultation. Some sites that provide online seminars are:

Emory Health – provides a comprehensive seminar, with a post-seminar quiz

Realize – provides a comprehensive seminar by a bariatric surgeon

MK – a doctor who provides online seminars on gastric sleeve surgery

Peachtree Surgical & Bariatrics – provides free online seminars on gastric sleeve surgery

Are there requirements for attending a gastric sleeve surgery seminar? 

Usually, none. However, some hospitals, like Highland Hospital in New York, require that you already be 18 years old, meet the basic BMI requirements for weight loss surgery, have a history of obesity, and so forth. Also, some surgeons require you to attend a seminar on gastric sleeve surgery before making an appointment with you.

Join Online Forums on Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Online forums are usually in question-answer format, similar to FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) pages in a website. Online forums are perfect for you if you have already done your initial research, or attended an online seminar. You can then ask questions in the forum, and have them answered by people who already have the needed experience. 

Even more importantly, online forums are as good a place as any to begin building your support network. Even at the point where you are just considering surgery, you already need a positive group who will encourage you and relate with your decision. You will also get more understanding and sympathy from people who have already gone through with the surgery.

Where can you find online forums for gastric sleeve surgery?

Bariatric Pal has a comprehensive list of various Gastric Sleeve forums. You can ask questions on the pre-gastric sleeve surgery forum, read through success stories and ask questions about them, and even join a general gastric sleeve surgery discussion. It is a perfect place to find support and networks.

Thinner Times also hosts forums for gastric sleeve surgery (they call it vertical sleeve gastrectomy). There are four sub-forums; on pre-operation, post-operation, long-term effects of gastric sleeve surgery, and nutrition. There are over 1,200 topics on the forum, and you can browse through them for more discussions on gastric sleeve surgery.

Obesity Help hosts user-created forums on gastric sleeve surgery. With 417 pages of topics alone, you can easily find a group whom you can interact with regularly. It is a perfect place to begin learning about gastric sleeve surgery, and develop a support network whether or not you actually get surgery.

Talking to People Who Have Had Gastric Sleeve Surgery

There are few better ways to get information about Gastric Sleeve surgery than from people who have had firsthand experience. They not only know about the details and statistics about surgery, they can share their emotional experiences as well. Preparing for gastric sleeve surgery needs both kinds of research. You can be better prepared emotionally, and also develop your potential support network at the same time.

Reading Testimonials About Gastric Sleeve Surgery 

Researching gastric sleeve surgery would not be complete without reading the true stories of those who have already had the surgery. After all, you need to know how gastric sleeve surgery plays out in practice and experience, not just in theory and statistics. Reading through a number of testimonials will also give you a general overview of what common success and challenges people face after surgery.

Where can you find gastric sleeve surgery testimonials?

Slim Life Solutions offers a number of patient testimonials, even with before and after pictures. They are all positive and encouraging testimonials. Advanced Bariatric Surgery has patient testimonial videos of those who have gone through gastric sleeve surgery. They may be more encouraging because you can see their emotions as they speak.

Oliak Center provides patient testimonials and before and after weight loss pictures. The testimonials provide some background of what the patients went through before surgery, and how it changed their lives. A Lighter Me also provides encouraging testimonials and pictures to browse through. 

Research Gastric Sleeve Surgeons

One good way to research gastric surgery is to look for the possible surgeons in your area whom you might prefer. You may search through referrals and recommendations. Another concern is, if you are paying through insurance, whether or not your surgeon is in the directory of surgeons your insurance provider will pay for. 

What do you need to ask when researching gastric sleeve surgeons?

First, look for the weight loss surgeons in your city or state who do gastric sleeve surgeries. Bariatric Surgery Source helps you find a weight loss surgeon by state, as does the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. Health Grades provides a list of bariatric (weight loss) surgeons by state and city, which would help you narrow down your options.

What Should You Know Before Having Surgery?

If You Need Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Surgery always comes with a certain amount of risk. There are risks associated with being anesthetized, with the surgery itself, and with complications post-surgery. This is why surgery is a last resort at all times. If you can lose weight through another program, through exercise and dieting, it is healthier and less risky to do that. The dangerous thing would be to think that gastric sleeve surgery is a one-time solution to an obesity question. 

The requirement for gastric sleeve surgery, or any weight loss surgery, usually depends on your BMI (Body Mass Index). The BMI measures your weight per square meter of height. When your BMI passes a certain level, you are at an increased risk of obesity-related complications (some call them co-morbidities). 

Most hospitals, physicians, and insurance companies will consider your eligibility under the following conditions:

1) You have a BMI of 40 or more;

2) You have at least 1 co-morbidity (some require at least 2) such as

  • Sleep apnea (breathing stops during sleep)
  • Type II diabetes (highly irregular blood sugar levels)
  • Coronary heart disease (the veins leading to the heart are blocked up)

Before you begin to search for how, when, and where to get gastric sleeve surgery, focus first on whether or not you need the surgery. If you have not yet tried an exercise and diet plan, commit to one first. Only consider surgery if you have co-morbidities, and if they are severe enough to threaten your health faster than your exercise and diet plan would work.

How Gastric Sleeve Surgery is Different from Other Bariatric Surgeries

When researching gastric sleeve surgery, you should know how this surgery is different from other weight loss surgeries and how it can benefit you. When you research gastric sleeve surgery, you will most probably run into two more kinds: gastric bypass surgery and gastric banding surgery. 

Of the three kinds of bariatric surgery, gastric banding surgery is reversible. This does not necessarily make it better. In fact, it is in some ways less comfortable. Also, the reversibility might have an unconscious effect on your commitment to the weight loss programs you still need to follow. 

In gastric banding, a silicone band is placed around your stomach, shrinking its size. This leaves less space for the food to stay, and therefore makes you feel full faster. It can be adjusted, or removed altogether. For gastric bypass, most of your stomach is stapled so food cannot enter it, and then the stomach is attached to a lower part of the small intestine for less calorie absorption.

Gastric sleeve surgery is one of the best options for irreversible weight loss surgery. Cutting away 80% of the stomach removes most of the stomach’s ghrelin hormone, which is what makes you hungry. However, gastric bypass surgery is more effective in lowering Type II diabetes risks. Take these into consideration as you research.

The Pre- and Post-Operation Requirements of Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Weight loss surgery is a life-changing decision, and gastric sleeve surgery is no exception. Besides the eligibility requirements of surgery, some surgeons require you to go on a certain diet for some weeks before the surgery. This reduces the risks of surgery for you. Other surgeons will require certain tests and follow-up check-ups, so look first at all the possible requirements you need to fulfill before you can even apply for surgery.

After the operation, the fight for your weight loss lifestyle would just be beginning. You will need to be on a special diet, follow a regular exercise program, and keep in touch with your surgeon and physicians. If these guidelines for eating less and building strength are not followed, you might suffer post-surgery complications, or relapse. To prevent this, make sure you know all the possible dangers of gastric sleeve surgery first.

Researching Gastric Sleeve Surgery: Necessary for Weight Loss Success

Gastric sleeve surgery has a high chance of success, which is why it has grown to become the most-requested bariatric surgery in the United States. However, besides good surgeons and great operating facilities, the successes are because of the patients themselves. The surgeons can conduct the most flawless surgery, but if the patients do not follow up on the chance given them, they will see no progress.

Before you venture into gastric sleeve surgery, take time to fully research on the procedure. Attend free seminars nearby, write down all your questions, and ask them. If you think of any later, ask them in an online forum, or to anyone who has already had gastric sleeve surgery. Read testimonials to encourage yourself with the successes, and make sure you know what kind of surgery you need and the pre- and post-operation requirements. 

When you are ready, begin to research surgeons and payment plans. This preparation will allow you to make your decision when you are fully committed to what you want to do, and how you want to do it. This commitment is key to a successful gastric sleeve surgery experience. 

Do I Need A Gastric Sleeve Forum?

Sometimes, the decision to have life-changing gastric sleeve surgery feels like a lonely one. Family and friends, who do not fully understand your decision, might question it. Even if they are supportive, they may still voice their own doubts about the surgery to you.

Sometimes, thinking about all those questions and challenges is stressful. You might decide that weight loss is a personal issue, and so you might as well keep the surgery, and everything about it, between yourself and your surgeon. That is not such a good idea, for many reasons. Believe it or not, social support can even help you lose weight.

Why Do I Need To Join A Gastric Sleeve Forum?

More Likely to Complete and Maintain Treatment with A Gastric Sleeve Forum

In a study in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, patients who joined weight loss programs with friends, and patients who joined alone, were tested. The patients who joined with friends were given additional social support by the clinic. 95% of them completed the treatment, 66% maintained full weight loss.

In contrast, only 76% of the patients who joined alone completed the treatment. Only 24% of them maintained full weight loss. Patients who were constantly encouraged, and who faced healthy competition, were more successful in weight loss programs. A gastric sleeve forum gives the same kind of support, from others who are going through the same challenge.

More Likely to Lose Weight with A Gastric Sleeve Forum

It might sound too easy, but the science proves it. In an article published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, two groups were compared. One was a self-help group, while the other group had regular meetings with a support group.

The “commercial group,” the weight loss group with a support system, lost more weight than the other. They lost a minimum of 4.3 kilograms, compared to the 1.3 kilograms lost by the self-help group. More than that, members of the group who attended at least 78% of the support sessions lost 5 kilograms minimum, instead of 4.3 kilograms.

There are even more studies that confirm this. livescience determined that patients of weight loss programs lose an average of 4.9 percent of their total body weight. If they are in a weight loss program with a social support group, they lose an average of 7.5% of their total body weight. Success was a closer goal with that support group.

The Trevose Behavior Modification Program shows how well aggressive group support and healthy competition can work as well. Under their program, which requires weekly attending of the support meetings or the program ends, patients lost 19 percent of their total body weight.

The Gastric Sleeve Forum: An Ingredient for Success

There are many ingredients for weight loss success. However, having a gastric sleeve forum is one of the best of those. Instead of withdrawing into yourself and hoping you can lose enough weight before anyone notices, find a supportive gastric sleeve forum. You can get answers to questions, build relationships, and most importantly, find strength and encouragement.


The Cost of Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Over all of the United States, as of 2015, 51.4 million surgeries are done every year. Of those surgeries, only 179,000 surgeries every year are bariatric (weight loss) surgeries. Costs of surgery, of course, differ by state and the competition in that state.

According to Obesity Coverage, $16,800 is the average cost of gastric sleeve surgery across the United States. However, while at first it seems much more practical to go across state for surgery, it might become more expensive in the long run.

How Do Gastric Sleeve Surgery Costs Compare to Gastric Bypass Surgery?

Gastric bypass surgery involves stapling the stomach, leaving a walnut-sized portion, and then attaching the stomach to a lower part of the small intestine. This causes less calorie absorption, and the smaller stomach means you get more full, sooner.

Gastric sleeve surgery was initially considered a safety measure for gastric bypass surgery patients. Because of this, it is usually a cheaper option than gastric bypass surgery. Gastric bypass surgery is $24,000, compared to the almost $17,000 of gastric sleeve surgery.


Why is Gastric Sleeve Surgery in Some States so Much More Expensive than in Others?

It usually depends on the demand for weight loss surgery in the specific state. The higher the demand, the more surgeons will be offering that kind of surgical procedure. The more surgeons there are, the more competition there will be among surgeons. The higher the  competition, the lower the prices go.

Looking at the states with the cheapest gastric sleeve surgeries, it is evident they tend to correlate with states with the highest obesity rates. Oklahoma is the cheapest state to get a surgery in ($9,795). It is also 6th in the most obese states in the United States, with a 33.0% obesity rate. Georgia, cheapest after Oklahoma ($11,220), ranks 19th with a 30.5% obesity rate.

Following is a list of the states according to price, with their national obesity ranking and if they have mandatory coverage under Obamacare.



Price Ranking Insurance Coverage
Oklahoma $ 9,795 6th – 33.0% Mandatory coverage by Obamacare
Georgia $ 11,220 19th – 30.5%
Nebraska $ 11,760 21st – 30.2%
Arkansas $ 11,934 1st – 35.9%
Kentucky $ 12,610 12th – 31.6%
Kansas $13,390 13th – 31.3%
Texas $13,770 11th – 31.9%
Indiana $ 13, 905 7th – 32.7%
New Jersey $14,065 41st – 26.9% Mandatory coverage by Obamacare
Nevada $ 14,085 35th – 27.7% Mandatory coverage by Obamacare
Florida $ 14,112 44th – 26.2%
Utah $ 14,222 45th – 25.7%
Mississippi $ 14,280 3rd – 35.5%
North Carolina $ 14,685 25th – 29.7% Mandatory coverage by Obamacare
Colorado $ 14,700 51st – 21.3%
Alabama $ 14,935 5th – 33.5%
California $ 15,130 47th – 24.7% Mandatory coverage by Obamacare
Louisiana $ 15,402 4th – 34.9%
Washington DC $ 16,219 50th – 21.7%
Ohio $ 16,415 8th – 32.6%
Tennessee $ 16, 415 14th – 31.2%
South Carolina $ 16,660 10th – 32.1%
Missouri $ 16,668 20th – 30.2%
Wisconsin $ 17,340 15th – 31.1%
Oregon $ 17,800 34th – 27.9%
Virginia $ 18,360 31st – 28.5%
Michigan $ 18,430 18th – 30.7% Mandatory coverage by Obamacare
West Virginia $ 18,430 2nd – 35.7% Mandatory coverage by Obamacare
Montana $ 18, 620 42nd – 26.4%
Maine $ 18,624 33rd – 28.2% Mandatory coverage by Obamacare
North Dakota $19,580 9th – 32.2% Mandatory coverage by Obamacare
New Mexico $ 19,580 32nd – 28.4% Mandatory coverage by Obamacare
South Dakota $ 19,580 23rd – 29.8% Mandatory coverage by Obamacare
Pennsylvania $ 20,370 22nd – 29.8%
Arizona $ 20,470 29th – 28.9% Mandatory coverage by Obamacare
New York $ 20,470 39th – 27.0% Mandatory coverage by Obamacare
Minnesota $ 20,580 36th – 27.6%
Wyoming $ 22,250 27th – 29.5% Mandatory coverage by Obamacare
Idaho $ 24,920 31st – 28.9%
Massachusetts $ 31,150 48th – 23.3% Mandatory coverage by Obamacare

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, requires some states to make sure their insurance companies pay for weight loss surgery. This Act covers Family Plans, individual insurance plans, and Small Group plans (businesses with less than 50 employees). With more than 50 employees, the employer decides if the insurance plan will cover weight loss surgery.

As the table shows, there are still plenty of states not covered by Obamacare. However, the states on the more expensive side of the spectrum tend to have mandatory Obamacare coverage. Check with your surgeon, and ask if he or she can confirm your insurance coverage. Alternatively, you can ask your human resources department (HR), or check through your insurance policy summary.

Medicare also covers weight loss surgeries as long as a certain level of criteria is met. However, as long as the eligibility requirements are met, you can have lap band surgery, gastric bypass surgery, and gastric sleeve surgery.

When Can You Apply for Gastric Sleeve Surgery?

Insurance companies are the most likely to have strict requirements for those applying to receive gastric sleeve surgery. However, doctors also need to show that their procedure was necessary for the patient. If you are opting for other financial aid, such as loans or special health savings accounts, you usually still need to prove eligibility for surgery.

First, you need a physician-confirmed body mass index (BMI) of 40, which is classified as morbid obesity (BMI 40-44.9). However, there are some cases when there is already an obesity-related condition (a co-morbidity) that causes complications. You will probably need surgery earlier.

In those cases, you can apply at BMI 35 (severe obesity), as long as you have certain conditions (in the next section). With Medicare, you need to have a co-morbidity to be eligible for insurance coverage. You also need to prove you were obese for at least 5 years.

Next, you need to prove, through medical supervision, that you have been on a physician-recommended diet for 3 to 7 months. It depends on your insurance provider and on your physician. Your primary physician needs to give you a medical clearance letter for surgery, which you will submit wherever you are getting funding from.

You will also need clearance and an evaluation from a Registered Dietitian, and a history of other weight-loss treatments. This medical history includes all of the health problems you are facing that are obesity-related, any extra difficulties you are going through as a result of your condition, and any treatment you have gone through. If you have done any other weight-loss treatments before, you need to provide the reason for discontinuing them.

Under Medicare, you also need a psychological evaluation, and several other tests that rule out other causes for obesity. You will need your thyroid, adrenal, and pituitary tests to all register as normal. You also need to prove you have tried, and failed, at least one other weight loss program.

Conditions Which Allow Early Surgery (BMI = 35)

Clinically Significant Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a condition in which the patient simply stops breathing while he or she is asleep. Obstructive sleep apnea usually happens with obese patients. The weight of fat on the airway causes a throat tissue collapse. The airway becomes fully blocked, and the patient stops breathing until he or she wakes up from loss of air, or shifts position.

Coronary Heart Disease

The coronary arteries are the arteries which carry oxygen-rich blood to the heart. When there is a buildup of fat along the artery walls, less and less blood, and therefore less and less oxygen, reach the heart. If the arteries become blocked, a heart attack can occur. Breakage of the artery would lead to a blood clot.

Resistant Hypertension

Patients with medical hypertension have uncontrollable blood pressures, even with regular treatment. If, after more than 3 visits and consultations the blood pressure remains uncontrollable, it becomes resistant hypertension. It can be caused by excess of fat and stimulants, and even by sleep apnea and diabetes.

Type-II Diabetes

Your body converts food into blood sugar, or glucose, to burn as energy. Insulin channels that glucose into the cells when you need it, and regulates the levels of sugar in the blood for your safety. With too much sugar to deal with, in obese patients, the insulin can no longer cope even when more is produced. Because of that, sugar can either drop or spike dangerously.

Why Not Just Go Out of State?

Before and after gastric sleeve surgery, you will need to have regular checkups, consultations, and tests. Having your primary surgeon in another state may cause more costs than you plan on. Your pre-op weight loss program will have corresponding consultation fees, as will your physician-guided diet. Your post-op check-ups and consultations with your surgeon will provide even more complications.