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Frequently Asked Questions


1. Am I a candidate for weight loss surgery?

To qualify for weight loss surgery, you must meet the following criteria established by the National Institutes of Health and the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. 

The criteria includes:

  • You are more than 100 pounds over your ideal weight or you have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or greater, or a BMI of 35-39.9, along with two or more medical conditions such as diabetes and/or hypertension which would improve significantly with weight loss. 
    • Surgery may be considered with a BMI as low as 35 if your doctor determines that there's a medical need for weight reduction and surgery appears to be the only way to accomplish the targeted weight loss.
    • Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measure of the degree of your excess weight, based on weight and height. BMI is calculated by dividing body weight in pounds by height in inches squared and multiplying that amount by 704.5. This provides a metric calculation for BMI. Calculate Your BMI
  • You have tried and been unable to lose weight through diet and exercise
  • You are prepared to make a lifelong commitment to dietary, exercise and behavioral changes necessary for long-term success
  • You have no mental or behavioral disorders that may interfere with long-term weight loss success

If you are interested in weight loss surgery, your primary care doctor must provide us with a letter supporting your request for weight loss surgery. If you don’t have a primary care doctor and would like to find one, click here

Many insurance providers, and all Medicare and CenCal insurance providers will require documentation that you have made prior attempts at medically supervised weight loss. Your primary care doctor can provide this in their letter.

To qualify for surgical weight loss, you must complete a medical and psychological pre-evaluation process showing that you are committed to adhering to long-term, follow-up care after surgery and that you have a clear understanding of the extensive dietary, exercise and medical guidelines that must be followed for the rest of your life. The requirements for weight loss surgery are listed below and we will review them with you as well. 

Requirements to be considered for weight loss surgery are:

  • All patients over age 50 must have had a colonoscopy in the last ten years.
  • All women over age 40 must have had a mammogram in the prior year.
  • All women of child-bearing age must be on active birth control, and have had a pap/pelvic exam in the prior year.
  • All patients with active severe reflux disease must have had an EGD in the past year.
  • All patients will undergo standard lab screening including CBC, Chemistry panel, LFTs, Thyroid function Patients with diagnosed sleep apnea will need to have a functioning and adjusted CPAP machine prior to surgery.
  • All patients will undergo psychiatric evaluation and counseling with one of our programs providers.
  • All patients will be provided intensive dietary counseling preoperatively.
  • Selected patients will be scheduled to see a cardiologist for preoperative testing and a pulmonologist for overnight polysomnogram and sleep apnea treatment. This can be arranged in our clinic or by your primary care physician.  

2. How long will I be in the hospital?

You could be back home as quickly as the day after your surgery.

3. Will my insurance cover the surgery?

Many health insurances cover weight loss surgery but each plan is different and may have different guidelines. To see if you are covered and qualify for surgery, please call our insurance coordinator at 805.981.7305 with your plan information.

4. Why is laparoscopic surgery important?

Laparoscopic surgery is less invasive, heals faster and leaves fewer scars. We perform the majority of procedures laparoscopically, to help our patients get back on their feet quicker, with reduced risk of infection and complications.

5. Who will perform the surgery?

Weight loss surgery procedures at St. John’s Regional Medical Center are performed by Helmuth Billy, MD and Amir Mehran, MD

Learn More 

To help you determine if weight loss surgery is right for you, take our free online assessment or attend an informational seminar.

To learn more about our program and how we can help, please call 805.981.7305.