Additional FAQ's


The decision to undergo weight loss surgery certainly comes with many questions. At the Nicholson Clinic, we strongly believe in patients educating themselves before deciding if bariatric surgery is right for them. Further, should they decide to move forward, remaining educated and knowledgeable about what to expect before, during, and after the surgery is imperative. To that end, at the Nicholson Clinic, we remain committed to standing by our patients every step of the way and that includes making sure that all your questions are answered. Below, we put together a few of the most frequently asked questions from our patients. But please feel free to contact us if you have any additional questions. We’re happy to help you learn more about weight loss surgery and what it could mean for you.

Am I a candidate for weight loss surgery?
Does insurance cover weight loss surgery?
How much weight can I expect to lose after weight loss surgery and how long will this weight loss take?
Can my weight loss surgery be reversed in the future?
What happens if I don’t follow the dietary guidelines following my weight loss surgery?
Is plastic surgery to eliminate excess skin necessary following surgery and is it covered by insurance?
Can I drink alcohol after undergoing weight loss surgery?
Can I continue to smoke if I choose to have weight loss surgery?
Why is exercise important after weight loss surgery?
Can I get pregnant after undergoing weight loss surgery?
Why does hair loss occur following surgery and how can I prevent it?


Am I a candidate for weight loss surgery?

Many people are unsure if they are “overweight enough” to be considered a candidate for weight loss surgery. Weight is, of course, a primary qualification; but there are also other factors. At the Nicholson Clinic, here are our qualifications for a LAP-BAND/REALIZE™ band, gastric bypass surgery, or gastric sleeve:

  • A body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more (which translates to about 100 pounds overweight for men and 80 pounds overweight for women).
  • A BMI between 30 and 39.9 with at least one serious obesity-related health issue such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, severe sleep apnea, hypertension, etc.)
  • Have been classified as obese for at least five years.
  • Do not have a history of addiction or severe psychiatric problems.
  • Have a thorough understanding of the weight loss surgery you have chosen and the lifestyle changes that are necessary for it be successful.

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Does insurance cover weight loss surgery?

There are many states that have laws that require insurance companies to cover weight loss surgery if it is considered medically necessary and the patient meets the criteria set forth by the National Institutes of Health. Generally speaking, approximately 50% of insurance companies will cover a weight loss surgery including the LAP-BAND/REALIZE™ band, gastric bypass surgery, and gastric sleeve as long as the patient’s doctor provides a Letter of Medical Necessity.

A Letter of Medical Necessity is submitted to your insurance company and allows them to consider your request for surgery. The letter essentially addresses why weight loss surgery is critical for the health of the patient and why surgery is necessary. The Letter of Medical Necessity will include information such as the weight of the patient, including BMI, the number of years that the patient has been overweight, full medical history including conditions related to obesity, and diets and weight loss programs attempted by the patient in the past.

Of course, insurance coverage can be tricky business. That’s why we work with our patients step-by-step to provide their insurance company with what they need to help provide coverage.

Some insurance companies that currently provide partial or complete coverage of the LAP-BAND/REALIZE™ band and other weight loss surgeries include Blue Cross (in some states), Humana First Health, Medicare, United Healthcare, Aetna, Cigna, Luminos, and PHCS.

However, be sure to check with your insurance carrier or human resource department to determine your insurance coverage for weight loss surgery. You can also fill out one of our applications and our insurance verifier will research the options available to you.

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How much weight can I expect to lose after weight loss surgery and how long will this weight loss take?

The amount of weight that you lose and the amount of time it takes to lose the weight depends on a number of factors including the type of weight loss surgery that you choose and how committed you are to maintaining a healthy lifestyle after the surgery.

With LAP-BAND/REALIZE™ band surgery, an average patient loses 36% to 40% excess body weight within one year with an average of 60% to 65% excess weight loss at 3-5 years.

With gastric bypass, an average patient experiences 70% to 80% excess weight loss at one year.

With sleeve gastrectomy or gastric sleeve surgery, weight loss falls in between the LAP-BAND/REALIZE™band and gastric bypass.

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Can my weight loss surgery be reversed in the future?

Again, this answer depends on the surgery that you have chosen. The gastric sleeve surgery is not reversible. Gastric bypass is reversible but not easily done. The LAP-BAND/REALIZE™, however, is more easily reversed.

It is important to remember, however, that such surgery is considered a lifetime commitment and the reversal of any procedures will likely result in weight gain.

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What happens if I don’t follow the dietary guidelines following my weight loss surgery?

The dietary guidelines provided following surgery are essential for success. First and foremost, they are meant to allow your body to heal from surgery. Going forward, they are meant to help you lose weight appropriately. Any deviation from the dietary guidelines can result in a slow down in weight loss and sickness. “Dumping syndrome” – symptoms experienced when surgery patients eat too much or consume high-fat or high-sugar foods – can include fatigue, sweating, diarrhea, and vomiting.

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Is plastic surgery to eliminate excess skin necessary following surgery and is it covered by insurance?

Losing an excessive amount of weight often means that weight loss surgery patients are left with excess, saggy skin, which can be both uncomfortable and unsightly. Plastic surgery is available to remove this excess skin but, because this is typically considered a cosmetic surgery, it is most often not covered by insurance.

However, there are some cases in which the removal of excess skin is considered medically necessary such as when the skin is causing rashes or ongoing infection. So it’s important to check with your insurance carrier or human resources department to determine if insurance coverage might be available to you.

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Can I drink alcohol after undergoing weight loss surgery?

Weight loss surgery changes your body in many ways and, in the case of alcohol consumption, you will find that alcohol affects you much faster than before your surgery. We suggest to our patients that they avoid drinking alcohol for the first year following their surgery because it is high in calories and can slow weight loss. After the first year, as long as your doctor approves, small amounts of alcohol from time to time may be just fine.

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Can I continue to smoke if I choose to have weight loss surgery?

We ask our patients who smoke to quit six to eight weeks prior to their weight loss surgery as smoking can complicate the surgical procedure itself and inhibit recovery.

Of course, we also encourage our patients to continue to avoid cigarettes in the long term as smoking does not fit with a new, healthier lifestyle.

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Why is exercise important after weight loss surgery?

Exercise is not only important; it is essential to your success following weight loss surgery. Of course, exercise burns calories, which is important for weight loss. But exercise also builds and preserves muscle, which is an important component to losing weight. You don’t want to lose muscle mass and strength as you drop pounds. We encourage our patients to follow a regular exercise routine following their surgery and we will work with you to determine what is most appropriate for you.

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Can I get pregnant after undergoing weight loss surgery?

We recommend that patients refrain from getting pregnant for at least one year following surgery. During this time, you will be losing weight very rapidly and such weight loss can be harmful for a pregnancy. After the first year, when you have returned to a regular diet – and are at a healthier weight – you have a much better chance for a healthy pregnancy.

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Why does hair loss occur following surgery and how can I prevent it?

Sometimes, rapid weight loss – such as occurs following weight loss surgery – results in a lowered intake of protein and zinc. In turn, this can cause some weight loss surgery patients to lose some hair following their procedures. That’s why we recommend that our patients consume adequate amounts of a protein daily and also take a daily zinc supplement. Our weight loss team will work with you to recommend the appropriate supplements and vitamins to take following surgery.

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If you have any further questions about weight loss surgery, contact us at the Nicholson Clinic today. We are always available to answer your questions.

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