At MedStar Health, we’ve been successfully performing weight loss surgery—also called bariatric surgery—for decades. Our exceptional physicians are skilled in multiple treatment and surgeries for those who desire to lose weight but have been unsuccessful in conventional methods.
Bariatric surgery is a surgical procedure performed on the stomach and/or intestines to induce weight loss. For patients with health issues like diabetes, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea, undergoing a bariatric procedure and committing to a new lifestyle could put an end to weight-related health conditions that limit daily activities and ultimately threaten to shorten lives.
Types of bariatric surgery
To meet the needs of as many patients as possible, MedStar Health offers several types of weight loss surgery.
- Lap-Band System™ - Laparoscopic gastric banding, commonly known as Lap-Band®, is the least extreme surgical option. During Lap-Band System™ surgery, an adjustable gastric band is placed around the upper part of the stomach.
- Sleeve gastrectomy - During a sleeve gastrectomy, a thin vertical sleeve of stomach is created using a stapling device, and the rest of the stomach is removed, reducing the stomach to approximately 15% of its original size.
- Gastric bypass - Gastric bypass may be right for individuals whose excess weight and weight-related medical conditions threaten to shorten their lives.
Innovative treatments: Robotic surgery
Our bariatric surgeons are trained in the latest technologies, including robotic surgery. The da Vinci® Surgical System is used for laparoscopic gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy procedures. During a robotic procedure, the surgeon inserts tiny robotic instruments and a camera into small incisions in the abdomen. The surgeon then controls the surgery from a nearby console.
Pain control is achieved through a transverse abdominis plane (TAP) block—a nerve block that is completed intraoperatively and reduces the need for narcotics.
Medical (non-surgical) weight loss program
Surgery is not the right choice for some patients, which is why we have developed an alternative option to surgery, with similar powerful outcomes. Our non-surgical program includes:
- An individualized assessment, complete weight loss plan, and regular follow-up with one of our weight loss specialists
- An individualized assessment, complete nutrition plan, and regular follow-up with one of our registered dietitians
- Small weekly fitness classes led by our exercise physiologist
- Behavior counseling groups led by a mental health professional who specializes in obesity and weight loss counseling
- Monthly support group sessions
Bariatric and Weight Loss Management program
Our Bariatric and Weight Loss Management Program offers:
Educational seminar: This is a mandatory education seminar to determine if you are a candidate for bariatric surgery. See seminar dates and times.
Preoperative weight management program: A 3 to 6-month monitored weight loss program.
Bariatric surgery: A safe and effective weight loss surgery by top bariatric surgeons trained in the latest technologies.
Free monthly support group: A solid support system for long-term weight loss success. Monthly meetings include open discussions about weight loss information and activities to promote a healthy lifestyle.
Facebook support group: This private Facebook group gives current and prospective patients an avenue to share their progress and connect with others who are on this same journey.
Are you a candidate for bariatric surgery?
Deciding to pursue a surgical solution for weight loss is not a decision you make lightly. We take it seriously, too, and want to ensure you are an ideal candidate for the surgery.
To determine if you are a candidate, you must fit the following criteria:
- Be committed to a major lifestyle change
- Show evidence of weight loss in our preoperative weight management program
- Have a body mass index (BMI) of:
- 35 or more with at least one weight-related medical condition
- 40 or more with no weight-related medical condition
- Be healthy enough to undergo a major operation
- Be free of unstable psychiatric issues
- Be free of alcohol, tobacco, or substance abuse
As with any surgical procedure, potential risks and complications can occur with weight loss surgery. We are committed to providing you with the information you need to make a well-informed decision about your surgery.
Why choose us?
- Our program is an American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) Center of Excellence and is fully accredited by the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP).
- Our board-certified surgeons have extensive experience in minimally invasive and robotic bariatric surgical procedures, which translate into shorter hospital stays, less pain, and a faster recovery.
- You will be cared for by a multi-disciplinary bariatric team that includes a bariatric surgeon, gastroenterologist, nurse program coordinator, dietician, and exercise physiologist.
- A free educational program before surgery helps prepare you for the procedure and your recovery.
- Extensive follow-up care, including a support group of your peers, provides all you need to stay healthy long after your procedure.
Frequently asked questions
How long is the recovery period after surgery? When can I go back to work?
We request that everyone allow for a two week recovery period. However, depending on the type of surgery, your recovery, and your work duties, you may be able to return to work as soon as one week after surgery.
Can I eat normal foods after surgery?
Yes, eventually you can eat normal foods after surgery. It is important to eat a healthy well-balanced diet that includes lean meats, fruits, vegetables, low-fat and fat-free dairy, and whole grains. However, there may be some foods that you should avoid, such as foods high in sugar and fat. Be aware, you will not be eating all of these foods immediately after surgery.
You must go through a slow diet progression from clear liquids to full liquids to soft foods, and then back to regular consistency foods. This diet progression allows your new stomach pouch to heal and adapt. Patients are usually on liquids for two weeks, soft foods for two weeks, and then back to regular foods at the fourth week after surgery.
It may take gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy patients a little longer to get back to regular consistency foods, but most people get there by six to eight weeks after surgery. Our goal is to help you get back to regular or "normal" foods, just smaller amounts of them.
Will I be able to eat in restaurants after surgery?
Bariatric surgery is a tool that helps you to lose weight along with lifestyle changes. Those lifestyle changes include making healthier food choices. We do not expect you to avoid eating out for the rest of your life, but please be mindful when ordering in a restaurant.
Some strategies for eating healthy when in a restaurant include choosing foods that are grilled, baked, or steamed instead of sautéed, breaded, or fried.
And you should always avoid the free bread and chips provided at the beginning of the meal.
When can I exercise after surgery?
Post-surgery exercise will help increase your weight loss and also can help your skin retain elasticity. Therefore, you are encouraged to start walking often the day of surgery.
You should wait until your doctor gives you clearance before going back to your pre-operative exercise plan; this often happens at your first post-op visit within two weeks after surgery. Walking and water exercises are great post-surgery work-out options.
Can I continue to drink alcohol after bariatric surgery?
We recommend that all patients avoid drinking alcohol for the first 12-18 months after surgery and are strongly encouraged to abstain totally.
Alcohol is empty calories and will limit your weight loss in that precious 12-18 month period when you have the opportunity to get the maximum amount of weight off. Additionally, due to the changed anatomy of the stomach and intestines and the alterations in digestion, alcohol absorption is much more rapid in gastric bypass patients. This results in a higher blood alcohol level with a much quicker peak.
Will I lose hair after surgery? How can I prevent it?
Many patients experience some hair loss or thinning after surgery. This usually occurs from three to seven months after surgery. Consistent intake of protein and vitamins as prescribed is the most important prevention method.
What about the loose skin when I lose weight? Does insurance pay for removing it?
In general, removal of loose skin after weight loss is considered cosmetic plastic surgery, and most insurers won't cover it. However, some insurers will pay for it if the loose skin is causing medical problems, such as severe rashes or infection. Check with your insurance carrier for details.
Do I need supplements to help avoid long-term problems?
Yes, it is recommended that bariatric patients select a complete multivitamin supplement that includes at least 18 mg iron, 400 mcg folic acid, selenium, and zinc.
Bariatric patients need to take this general multivitamin for the rest of their lives.
Bariatric patients are also instructed to take at least 1,500 mg of calcium in the form of daily supplements.
The vitamins and calcium supplements must be chewable for the first six weeks after surgery.
Some patients may require additional supplements, such as iron, folic acid, or Vitamin B12; your doctor will let you know if you need those.
Bariatric patients also use protein supplements, especially in the first few months after surgery, to help meet protein needs, since the amount of food is restricted.
After the first year or two, all bariatric patients are required to have life-long annual follow-ups and labs done to assess for nutritional deficiencies.
What if I plateau in my weight loss progress?
Typical reasons for a weight loss plateau or weight regain include:
- Making high calorie food choices
- Eating past the feeling of fullness/large portions
- Drinking calorie-containing beverages
- Drinking fluids with meals
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Unaddressed emotional issues with food
For those patients with an adjustable gastric band, lack of weight loss or weight regain may be an indication that an adjustment is needed.
We encourage frequent follow-up and can assist you in getting back on track.
Christopher Jamyn You, MD has presented regionally and nationally on robotic bariatric surgery. He has authored a book chapter on the same subject.
We are part of a Quality Improvement Collaborative following Bariatric Protocols and have helped reduce narcotic use by 66%.