One of the biggest hurdles to patients looking to have bariatric surgery involves preop testing. And while we would love to provide each patient with a quick way to push through to surgery, pre op testing plays an incredibly important role in the safety and effectiveness of the bariatric procedure. Cardiovascular and pulmonary testing helps ensure that the patient is suitable for surgery and that the anesthesia and trauma to the body from the surgical procedure doesn’t cause significant issues. Psychological testing is also used to make the patient aware of their responsibilities after surgery dash mostly that surgery is not a magic bullet dash and prepare them for what’s to come.
Most of our patients start their weight loss surgery process with a great deal of enthusiasm and motivation. But as they start navigating what can be up to six months of pre-operative preparation, they can become frustrated and ultimately drop out from the process. So, what can we do to keep that motivation level up and push through the pre-op process as quickly and efficiently as possible?
- Insurance is always a tricky minefield to navigate. Of course, insurance companies want to release as few funds as possible, so they want to ensure that bariatric surgery is necessary before they will pre-authorize surgery. To help them make that decision, it is imperative that you first learn about your policy and its requirements. Then methodically put together all the documentation required to get your preauthorization. Insurance companies will look for several tests and they may also require a pre-operative medical weight loss program. We do not want you to go at it alone, however, and we have resources to help you navigate some of the complexities of insurance coverage. So, after you have spoken to your insurance company, be sure to call our office and speak to one of our billing specialists or our bariatric coordinator.
- Next, you will undergo several preoperative tests to make sure you are healthy enough for surgery and to ensure that bariatric surgery is the right option for you. It can be frustrating and inconvenient to have to undergo these tests, but it’s necessary that we understand your surgical risk and pivot if necessary. We want you to remain engaged in your pre-operative testing process so if you are feeling overwhelmed or unsure about what to do next, do not hesitate to contact our office and we will help you get through it.
- During the lead up to surgery, you will also be placed on a one-to-two-week liver shrink diet which will include significantly restricted caloric intake. This is one of the hardest parts of the preoperative process. It is also important not only to your surgical risk, but also to understanding what life will be like after surgery. Jumpstarting that weight loss process early helps you know what to expect and makes your surgery safer. So, if you are dreading the liver shrink diet or if you feel like dropping out during your diet, be sure to call us and we will help you through it.
- Lastly, but certainly not least, you may fear surgery, the outcomes and even whether you will ultimately lose weight. These are valid concerns and even the bravest of us get nervous when we take on such a huge life change. This is where a support group comes in very handy. Whether it is our office, other bariatric patients or friends and family that you’ve recruited to help you through the process, this is the time to revalidate your decision, talk about your feelings in an open and candid manner and work through your fears and anxieties. It is worth noting that bariatric surgery is very safe, and the complications associated with bariatric surgery are very low – in line with those of a simple gallbladder removal.
The Bottom Line
Use the resources around you to help get through the preoperative process. Unfortunately, due to the nature of bariatric surgery, working through the pre-op requirements can be frustrating and long. However, you do have a team to help you through it and guide you in the right direction. Don’t give up, stay strong and we look forward to hearing from you if you have any questions at all.