FAQ About Bariatric Surgery

Learn about bariatric surgery, its benefits and the full spectrum of care and services we offer at El Camino Health.



Who’s a candidate for bariatric surgery?

You’re a candidate for weight-loss surgery if you’re at least 18 years old and:

  • Are more than 100 pounds over the ideal body weight for your given height and have a body mass index (BMI) above 40. Visit our BMI calculator to determine your BMI.
  • Are 100 pounds overweight and have an obesity-related health issue such as diabetes, sleep apnea or high blood pressure.
  • Have tried to lose weight in a medically supervised program (a requirement for many insurance providers).


What types of bariatric surgery are offered at El Camino Health?

We offer minimally invasive bariatric surgery options, including:

  • Minimally invasive and robotic-assisted vertical sleeve gastrectomy 
  • Gastric bypass surgery (Roux-en-Y) 
  • Duodenal switch 
  • Gastric band surgery 

You can learn more about surgery options at one of our information sessions or in a private consultation session with our bariatric nurse coordinator. For more information, call our bariatric nurse specialist at 650-988-8415.

What are the benefits of bariatric surgery?

When you have bariatric surgery and adopt lifestyle changes — such as a healthy diet and regular exercise — it can offer both physical and emotional health benefits. Benefits could include:

  • A better sense of well-being, greater self-esteem and a more positive self-image.
  • Improvement of health conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure — in some cases, you may even be able to stop taking medications or reduce the dosage.
  • An easier time with routine activities, such as climbing stairs, caring for young children or even walking short distances.


When choosing a bariatric surgery program, what questions should I ask?

You should have complete confidence and trust in the team of doctors, nurses and others who will care for you before, during and after this surgery. Consider asking questions such as:

  • Are the surgeons board certified?
  • How long have you performed bariatric surgery? 
  • How many and which procedures have you performed?
  • Do you perform minimally invasive or robotic procedures?
  • Which procedure do you recommend?
  • Can you refer me to past patients so I can hear their success stories?
  • Tell me about the bariatric surgery facilities and patient rooms.
  • Are the nurses dedicated to bariatric surgery patients, or do they serve other surgical patients?


Why should I have bariatric surgery at El Camino Health?

Our expert surgeons have more than 10 years of experience. We partner with you to make sure you have the information, counseling and tools necessary to achieve and maintain dramatic weight loss. 

Our program is accredited, our surgeons are board certified and our nurses have been recognized for their excellence. In addition, we have a dedicated bariatric surgery facility. 

What dietary changes do I need to make after surgery?

Weight-loss surgery reduces the stomach’s capacity to just a few ounces, which means you won’t be able to eat as much or the same type of food as before. You’ll need to make dietary changes, including eating three small, protein-focused meals each day and drink non-caloric beverages in between meals. Your surgeon will recommend daily vitamin and mineral supplements.

What other lifestyle changes do I need to make after surgery?

In addition to diet changes, you’ll want to incorporate a regular exercise program into your lifestyle changes to achieve and maintain your ideal weight loss. Exercise and diet are keys to lifelong weight control; bariatric surgery is simply a tool to help you make these changes. 

Many of our patients work with an exercise professional who specializes in bariatric patients. Your surgeon can refer you to this service.

What are the risks of bariatric surgery?

Generally, the rate of surgical complications for bariatric surgery is about 5 percent. El Camino Health has achieved a rate of less than 2 percent. 

Surgical complications can include bleeding, abdominal abscess, blood clots, wound infection and healing problems. Leaks or bleeding can occur at the site where your stomach or intestine has been divided and reconnected. Sometimes these complications require surgery to correct them. 

Another possible complication is food blockage. You can prevent blockages by cutting your food into small pieces, chewing thoroughly, and avoiding high-sugar and high-starch foods.

What’s the success rate of bariatric surgery?

Generally, our patients have positive results after surgery, including:

  • Approximately 75 percent of patients lose 60 to 70 percent of their excess weight.
  • Type 2 diabetes is resolved or improved in 98 percent of patients.
  • Approximately 80 percent of patients see improvements in sleep apnea, high blood pressure and high cholesterol problems. 


Does health insurance usually cover bariatric surgery?

Many health insurance plans cover bariatric surgery if you meet their criteria.

First, contact your insurance company to ask if weight-loss surgery is a covered benefit within your plan. Health plans vary in the specific services they cover and the amount they reimburse. HMOs require prior authorization for a surgical consultation from your primary care doctor.

Once you’re accepted as a surgical candidate, we’ll submit a letter to your health plan, outlining the medical necessity of surgery. Before you can have surgery, you must lose a small percentage of your body weight to demonstrate your commitment to weight loss, meet with our dietitian to discuss realistic nutrition needs after surgery and have a psychological assessment to determine your readiness for this potentially life-changing surgery.

Your health plan will provide pre-authorization, and your surgery can be scheduled. If you don’t have insurance coverage, you can learn more about self-pay options.

How do I prepare for bariatric surgery?

Once you’re a candidate for weight-loss surgery at El Camino Health, we’ll assign you to one of our medical teams with a surgeon, registered dietitian and bariatric nurse specialist. They’ll provide you with detailed nutrition counseling and information about your surgery and hospital stay. You’ll have a psychological evaluation to make sure you’re emotionally ready for this life-changing surgery. Our team will support you every step of the journey.

What happens after bariatric surgery?

You’ll stay in the hospital one to three days and can return to normal activities in two to three weeks. You’ll continue to work with your medical team to transition to life after surgery.

We hope you’ll take advantage of our monthly bariatric support group, exercise programs, guest speakers and other resources to maximize the benefits of surgery.

Where can I learn more about bariatric surgery?

El Camino Health holds a monthly informational session on the second Thursday of the month in conference rooms E and F on the ground floor of our Mountain View hospital campus. A bariatric nurse specialist leads a brief program description, reviews of the types of weight-loss surgery, outlines what to expect from surgery and answers questions at the end of the presentation. You’ll receive a packet of material, including surgeon information. For information, call our bariatric nurse specialist at 650-988-8415.