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FAQ: Before Weight Loss Surgery

FAQ: Before Weight Loss Surgery

  • What are some of the usual tests before surgery?
  • Why would I need to have a sleep study?
  • Why do I have to have a psychological evaluation?

What are some of the usual tests before surgery?

We always do certain tests: a complete blood count (CBC), urinalysis, and a chemistry panel which gives us a readout of about 20 blood chemistry values. Most people, except the very young, get a chest X-ray and an electrocardiogram. We may do a gallbladder ultrasound to look for gallstones. Other tests which we frequently order, when indicated, include pulmonary function testing, echocardiogram, sleep studies, GI evaluation, or cardiology evaluation.

Why would I need to have a sleep study?

Not all patients need a sleep study, but we will screen you to ascertain whether you are at high risk for sleep apnea. The sleep study detects a tendency for abnormal cessation of breathing, usually associated with airway obstruction when the muscles relax during sleep. This condition can cause problems and even death during even everyday living. After surgery, you will be sedated and receiving narcotics for pain, which also depress normal breathing drive and reflexes. At that time, airway obstruction becomes even more dangerous, and we need to have a clear picture of what to expect and how to handle it. Undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea can lead to serious complications in the recovery room.

Why do I have to have a psychological evaluation?

We do not believe that people with weight problems are crazy! Evaluation is a requirement of many insurance plans. But even when it is not required, we ask the psychotherapist to evaluate our patients for understanding and knowledge of the life changes they will face and their ability to follow the basic recovery plan. It also gives you an understanding of your strengths and weaknesses and how to apply them long-term to a successful weight loss surgery experience. Very few people are disqualified by the psychological evaluation.  

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