8 Facts About Bariatric Surgery Seniors Should Be Aware Of

Bariatric surgery is a term used for multiple procedures that can be done for major weight loss. In the vast majority of cases, bariatric surgery is only performed as a “last resort” course of treatment for morbid obesity and only after the patient has gone through a series of evaluations. When it comes to seniors, these evaluations can be even more stringent. And while this kind of surgery has been seen as highly effective across all age groups, some seniors who undergo this procedure may need to take some extra precautions to ensure a safe recovery and long-term results. Before deciding whether or not bariatric weight loss surgery is the right course of action for weight loss, seniors and their families should consider asking the following questions.

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Frequently Asked Questions ( 8 )   Add a Question

  1. Why is It So Hard for Seniors to Lose Weight, and Why Does This Matter?
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    Seniors in general have a more difficult time losing weight than their younger counterparts, but this doesn't mean weight loss is impossible. Far from it! Instead, once it is understood that weight loss is naturally more difficult for the elderly due to decreased metabolism and lower muscle density, it is easier for more effective weight loss methods to be utilized. Bariatric surgery should only be seen as an aid followed by healthier eating and regular exercise.

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  2. How Does Bariatric Surgery Work?
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    The procedures classified as “bariatric surgery” come in three categories: blocking, restricting and mixed. Bariatric blocking procedures work by preventing food absorption through use of stomach staples, sleeves, partial gastric bands, bypass methods, etc. Restricting procedures meanwhile work by making the stomach physically smaller or sectioning off a portion of it, while mixed methods use a combination of procedures to achieve minimal stomach absorption while decreasing food intake. 

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  3. Which Procedure is the Best Choice?
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    There are pros and cons to each procedure, but restrictive procedures are more popular. This is largely due to the fact that blocking methods, while not imposing as critical dietary restrictions on the patient, often result in nutritional deficiencies and require more careful monitoring. That said, senior patients should only decide which procedure is right for them after being evaluated by a weight loss doctor and thoroughly discussing their options.

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  4. What Seniors Qualify for Bariatric Surgery?
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    A senior candidate for bariatric surgery is someone who is 60 years of age or older, is 100 pounds or more overweight and has failed to lose weight repeatedly with conventional methods. A lot of candidates also suffer from weight-related illnesses like sleep apnea, hypertension and Type II Diabetes. Many weight loss doctors will have the patient strive to lose a certain level of weight before agreeing to perform surgery on them, both as a means of getting them to a healthier weight for surgery and also as an opportunity for the patient to prove that they are disciplined enough to follow the regimen prescribed to them post surgery.

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  5. How Long Does the Recovery Time Last?
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    The recovery time will vary with each patient and the exact type of bariatric surgery performed. Most seniors who receive one of these procedures will have to stay in the hospital for a few days afterward just for monitoring and will then be able to return to regular activities within five weeks. Since bariatric surgery is about improving quality of life, the end of the recovery period should be viewed as just the beginning of a new lifestyle.

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  6. What is Laparoscopic Vs. Open Surgery?
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    It is important to understand the difference between these two terms, especially among senior patients. Laparoscopic is the route most people will want to take, as it involves only small incisions through which the surgeon can insert their tools and perform the procedure with the assistance of a camera. It is minimally invasive and results in a shorter recovery time and decreased risk. Most surgeons meanwhile try to avoid open surgery as much as possible with seniors because it is much riskier and has a prolonged recovery time.

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  7. What Kind of Exercise Can Be Done After Bariatric Surgery?
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    When it comes to seniors, the best exercises are low-impact and focus more on endurance. Some examples are swimming, walking, mild weight training and yoga-- all of course after an appropriate post-surgery recovery time. In addition to staying active, patients must also follow the dietary regimen prescribed by their doctor in order to see long-term results.

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  8. Does Health Insurance Cover Bariatric Surgery?
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    Not all health insurance programs cover weight loss surgery, but the ones that do are most likely to approve it when the surgery is being used to help ease other health conditions (usually obesity related). The good news here is that most major forms of bariatric surgery are covered by these companies, but it is still wise to contact the insurance provider in question to ask specifically about what they will and will not cover prior to any surgery taking place.

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