You may not realize it, but you’ve already started your journey towards weight loss. It starts the moment you decide to live a healthier lifestyle. At South Texas Health System Heart, we provide surgical alternatives to help you lose weight when diet and exercise did not work for you.

Qualifying for weight-loss surgery depends on certain factors such as your medical history and weight-loss goals. You must also follow a specific process to better understand the types of bariatric options available, the related benefits and risks of each and lifestyle changes after surgery. Knowing this valuable information can prepare you for the road ahead and is the key to a safe and successful procedure.

1. Class Is in Session

The first step of our weight-loss process is the most important. We offer free educational seminars to anyone looking to learn more about the weight-loss surgery process. These seminars are not required, but they are encouraged. During this presentation, a surgeon will explain each weight-loss surgical option, as well as the specific advantages of each. You’ll have the chance to ask questions and hear what others in attendance have to say. Be sure to bring your insurance information with you. Staff members will confirm your coverage and find out what requirements, if any, you need to follow to qualify.

We also suggest downloading the Baritastic app, which helps you track goals, requirements and guidelines before and after surgery. Use code 641616 once you download the app and sign in for the first time.

2. Are You Covered?

You’re now well on your way towards losing weight. Not long after the seminar, your insurance company will verify your coverage. Once this happens, reach out to our office and schedule your first appointment with the surgeon. Contact us at 956-664-1616.

3. One-on-One With Your Surgeon

During your first office visit, your surgeon will ask for your medical history and a list of prescribed medications. This information can help give them an idea of the type of bariatric procedure that’s best for you. They will also discuss any requirements you’ll need to take for insurance coverage, in addition to the referrals and clearances you’ll need from other physicians. Regardless of your medical insurance, all patients need referrals from a nutritionist and psychiatrist. Now’s a great time to ask any unresolved questions about your care and what to expect before and after surgery.

4. Kickoff Your Diet

In the days leading up to your surgery, your body needs to be in the proper nutritional state. To do so, you need to make an appointment with a nutritionist to start your supervised diet or pre-operative diet session. Maintaining this diet lowers your chance of encountering problems during or after surgery. If you fall off track with your new diet, your surgeon may postpone your surgery.

5. Cleared for Weight Loss

Our staff will carefully monitor your progress and guide you the entire way. Once your supervised diet or post-operative diet session is complete and you’ve received psychiatric clearance, you’ll meet with the surgeon’s medical assistant. In this meeting you will review all the necessary clearances and referrals. The types of clearances and required dieting varies and is set by your insurance. They will also instruct you to receive a referral from your primary care physician. This referral is good for only 30 days, while most others are good for six months to a year. After you’ve received all clearances and referrals, submit them to your insurance company for review.

6. Mark Your Calendar

All of your preparation pays off as your surgery date comes into sight. After your insurance company approves your weight-loss surgery, they’ll contact us to set the date, time and location for your procedure. Most bariatric surgeries are performed at South Texas Health System Heart. The surgeon’s medical assistant will notify you of the date and ask that you stop by the office. While you’re here, you’ll take a short quiz to identify any unresolved weight-loss education needs. Then, you’ll sign a consent form. If you have any remaining balances, we ask that you please pay them at this time. Before you leave, we’ll provide you with a bottle of bowel preparation and a set of instructions.

7. The Final Prep

The big day is almost here. As the last pre-operation step you’ll need to preregister for your surgery at the hospital. Make an appointment to turn in your surgery orders and consent forms. The staff may take blood for lab work or X-rays during this appointment. Any remaining balances must be paid.

On the day of your surgery, check into the hospital and leave the rest to us. If you have any questions during this process, or have questions regarding post-operative care, please call us at 956-664-1616.

Your Hospital Stay

Depending on which procedure you receive, you may need to spend a few days in the hospital. However, some surgeries are outpatient procedures that take a matter of hours. Shortly after your surgery, you’ll start a clear liquid diet while at the hospital. As you recover in the weeks following your surgery, your doctor decides when it’s safe to switch to pureed food and eventually solid food. The amount of time you’ll stay on a particular diet depends on your progress.

Post Surgery

Your journey towards weight loss is now well on its way. After surgery, achieving weight-loss success is possible by making a lifetime of healthy choices.

However long your journey takes you, your bariatric team will be there with you. You and your doctor will discuss a post-operative care plan that can help you lose weight and keep it off for a lifetime. We offer free educational materials and recommend support groups as a reminder that you’re not on this journey alone.

We also hold post-op nutrition classes for patients who’ve recently had weight-loss surgery. These classes provide valuable information about maintaining your new diet and vitamin intake. Every month, join us for our open-discussion meetings, featuring guest speakers who will provide guidance and advice on various weight-loss topics.

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