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 What is Morbid  Obesity?
 Obesity-Related  Health  Conditions  (comorbidities)
 Am I a Candidate?
 Gastric Bypass
 Gastric Band or   LAP-BAND®   System
 Sleeve Gastrectomy
 Questions to Ask   your Surgeon
 Frequently Asked  Questions
 Talk to a weight loss surgery patient.
 Healthcare Finance
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 Frequently Asked Questions
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What is obesity?

Obesity results from the excess accumulation of fat that exceeds the body's skeletal and physical standards. According to the American Obesity Association, obesity is a disease. Obesity is defined as being 20% or more over ideal weight (BMI >25). Ideal weight is the weight associated with the longest life. Ideal weight tables show the ideal weight as it relates to gender and height. There are different tables and some controversy over what actually is ideal weight. A rule of thumb often used by physicians to calculate ideal weight is to allow 100 lbs. for the first 5 feet of a woman's height and 5 lbs. For each inch over 5 feet. For men it is 106 lbs. For the first 5 feet and 6 lbs. For each inch thereafter.

Example: A 5 foot 6 inch woman should therefore weight 130 lbs.

Doctors need a method to determine the general healthiness of a patient, and that's where BMI comes into play. BMI stands for Body Mass Index. It's a scientific method that uses your weight and height ratio to calculate your body fat percentage.

BMI is derived by dividing your weight (in kilograms) by the square of your height in meters. Please visit your doctor for an accurate reading.

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What diet plan or pill works the best?

California Thin's mission is to provide information about severe obesity and the treatment thereof. We are assuming that you are obese or morbidly obese and have tried to change your behavioral factors (diets and exercise) without success and are interested only in treatments that address the biological factors in your body that are outside your control. We suggest that you contact your doctor to get more information about any diet plans, weight loss products and specific bariatric surgical procedures such as the lap band.

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What is morbid obesity?

Morbid obesity is a much more severe form of obesity. A person who is 100 or more pounds overweight or twice the ideal body weight and has a BMI of 40 or a BMI of 35 with multiple comorbidities is morbidly obese. Morbid obesity affects an estimated 9 million Americans.

Morbid obesity is a common condition that can have profoundly negative health and social consequences. It is considered a serious disease and has been linked to shortened life expectancy. Most morbidly obese patients are candidates for the various forms of weight loss surgery (restrictive - lap band, Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass surgery (stomach stapling), Gastroplasty, or Malobsorbtive - biliopancreatic diversion, Duodenal Switch). According to C. Everett Koop, M.D. former Surgeon General of the United States, obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death in America! And more and more insurance companies are realizing that weight loss surgery is not a cosmetically motivated treatment but instead a life saving weight loss surgery treatment making weight loss surgeries such as gastric bypass financially affordable to those in need.

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What is the difference between overweight and obese?

An adult is considered "overweight" when he/she is above a healthy weight, which varies according to a person's height. An individual is overweight when their BMI is between 25–29.9. The standard used by researchers to define a person's weight according to their height is "body mass index" (BMI).

An adult with a BMI of 30 or more is considered obese. For example, for a 5'4" woman, this means that she is 30 or more pounds over her healthy weight.

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I am obese with health problems, can you help me?

California Thin is designed exactly for you. We walk you through the process of learning about yourself so that you can make informed choices about various weight loss surgery procedures. Many of us don't want to know the facts about our health but it can be a matter of life and death! Contact us and we can put you in touch with surgeons performing minimally invasive weight loss procedures that can help you manage your health and take back control of your life.

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Can you do my gastric bypass surgery?

We can put you in touch with surgeons performing minimally invasive weight loss procedures but you need to contact us so we may schedule an appointment to see one of the participating doctors. At that time the doctor will make an assessment as to whether you need gastric bypass surgery.

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How can I get help in treating my obesity?

Contact us so we can start the process of getting you back on track toward a healthier, happier you. If your not from California and are not interested in traveling to California, we recommend using It is a nation wide (United States) directory and all of the bariatric surgeons listed are members of the American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS). Simply pick a treatment facility near you and submit your information, the facility will get back to you. They would be glad to help you.

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How do I find out about clinical trials?

Ask your doctor or if you are out of state and still need a doctor, we recommend using to choose a doctor, then ask your doctor about any clinical trials that you may be eligible for. They would be happy to help you.

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What are some of the reasons why a doctor might not treat me?

Most treatment facilities will delay surgery, exclude from further consideration for surgery, or even cancel a scheduled operation for any patient who does not meet their minimum standards or who fails to follow through with instructions. Some exclusion criteria may include the following:
  • BMI is too low.
  • Failure to keep a scheduled pre-operative seminar or appointment without advance notification. The lack of commitment might identify the patient who won’t follow through with post-operative visits and instructions.
  • Failure to comply with sample menus and diet assignments.
  • Failure to recruit and bring along a support person.
  • Failure to stop smoking 6 weeks before surgery (a blood test for nicotine can be checked prior to surgery).
  • Failure to attend a support group meeting before surgery.
  • Risk is too high due to existing comorbidities, (health problems) adding increased risk of complications during and after the surgery.
  • Perceived lack of understanding of or commitment to the life-long dietary restrictions created by this major operation.

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I'm not in California, how can I find a doctor near me?

We recommend using It is a nation wide directory and all of the bariatric surgeons listed are members of the American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS). This means they are general surgeons who specialize in bariatric surgery and are diplomats of the American Board of Surgery or Fellows of the American College of Surgeons or Royal College of Surgeons. The purpose of the Society is to advance the art and science of bariatric surgery by continued encouragement of its members to:

  • Pursue investigations in both the clinic and laboratory
    Interchange ideas, information and experience pertaining to bariatric surgery
  • Promote guidelines for ethical patient selection and care
  • Develop educational programs for physicians, paramedical persons and lay people
  • Promote outcome studies and quality assurance

New surgeons are added regularly, so please check back if you don't locate one near you.

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My child is obese, nothing seems to work, what should we do?

It is generally recommended that you take your child to your pediatric doctor and have a complete a physical assessment done to insure the obesity is not caused by physical problems. If there are no physical problems identified by your pediatrician, they will usually recommend the modification of external factors. Here are some very basic ways to do this:

  • Set a reasonable weight-loss goal Initially, 5 to 10 lb, or a rate of 1 to 4 LB per month.
  • Obtain a dietary management prescription specifying total number of calories per day and recommended percentage of calories from fat, protein and carbohydrates from your pediatrician.
  • Begin physical activity according to child's fitness level, with ultimate goal of 20 to 30 minutes per day (in addition to any school activity).
  • Support your child's behavior modification process through self-monitoring, nutritional education, stimulus control, modification of eating habits, physical activity, attitude change, reinforcements and rewards.
  • Review your families activities and television viewing patterns; involve everyone in nutrition counseling.

There are comprehensive weight management programs for children and adolescents which should be attempted before weight loss surgery is even considered. One such facility is the Cincinnati Weight Management Center at the Children's Hospital Medical Center.

But not all children succeed in the behavior modification fight against obesity. When supervised behavioral and nutritional weight control strategies do not result in sustained success, bariatric surgery may be an option - consult your doctor.

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What is the cost of weight loss surgery?

Gastric Bypass surgery or stomach stapling usually requires a 2-4 day hospital stay and 3-6 weeks recovery time depending upon the type of work you do. The cost of bariatric operations can usually range from $17,000 to $25,000 and although many patients have had to fight for coverage, more insurers are beginning to pay, recognizing that the surgery can save them money in the long run.

Some patients may choose to pay for the weight loss surgery themselves. There are two fees to consider, one for the bariatric surgeon and another for your hospital stay. Some doctors can work with you on their pricing or payment plans. Financing makes it easy to afford the reconstructive or cosmetic surgery that you need or want. Use them to pay for procedures, from $1,500 to $25,000.

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Will my insurance cover weight loss surgery?

If you're lucky, the weight loss institution you choose will handle insurance matters for you. In any event, you might be surprised to learn that many insurance companies will cover the treatment of health problems caused by obesity but not obesity itself. So it is a good idea to have a basic understanding of what your insurance will cover prior to setting up a meeting with a bariatric surgeon. The Obesity Law and Advocacy Center has laid out 10 basic steps to provide some fundamental guidance to both patients and practitioners who want to get insurance claims approved the first time! (Read the article) Many health insurance companies will cover much of the cost for stomach stapling procedures. We recommend you contact your insurance company directly or find a doctor/obesity care facility and let them determine what weight loss surgery procedures and level of coverage you are eligible for.

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What if I don't have health insurance?

If you do not have insurance, don't give up! You still may have a couple options available in obtaining treatment. One is simply finding a way to pay for the surgery your self. Some doctors can work with you on their pricing or payment plans. Financing makes it easy to afford the reconstructive or cosmetic surgery that you need or want. Use them to pay for procedures, from $1,500 to $25,000.

Another option is to look for obesity related clinical trials that you may be a candidate for; the study sponsor (whether it is the government or a pharmaceutical or biotechnology company) usually provides the new treatment at no cost and pays for special testing or extra doctor visits. Some sponsors may pay for more than this; for example, some may offer to compensate for travel time and mileage. It will still require time, effort, risk and some cost on your part.

Clinical trials - research studies with people, are needed to explore new ways to treat people. Doctors conduct a clinical trial to learn whether a new treatment is safe and effective. Even the doctors in charge of the study don't know ahead of time how things will turn out.

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How safe is gastric bypass surgery (stomach stapling)?

Like every operation, there is a risk. Because you may already have health-related problems, there is an increased risk of complications. Your doctor should thoroughly screen you to make sure that there are no surprises on the operating table.

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How long will I be in the hospital after weight loss surgery?

The average stay is three to four days.

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Can all types of bariatric surgery be performed laparoscopically?

Theoretically all kinds of surgical procedures for obesity such as laparoscopic gastric bypass, stomach stapling (gastric bypass), and other weight loss procedures can be performed laparoscopically (also called minimally invasive surgery), because it is performed through very small incisions and because postoperative hospital stay is shorter and recovery is quicker.

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When can I go back to work after the weight loss surgery?

This really depends on the type of weight loss surgery you have and the type of job you do. For gastric bypass surgery, most patients can proceed with a regular activities after 6 weeks. If you work in a low-impact office, you may be able to go back to work after 3 weeks. If you are a construction worker, you may be able to go back after 6 weeks. Each patient heals on their own time, so everyone will recover on their own time.

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Will I still be able to get pregnant?

Most doctors will strongly recommend for you to not get pregnant after your first year of the operation. Most of the excess weight is lost during this time. Your fetus' health may also be endangered.

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Can I drink alcohol?

Please consult your physician regarding use of alcohol.

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What can I do about extra skin and stretch marks?

Many patients opt for plastic surgery, but we recommend you wait until you reach your ideal body weight before any plastic surgery.

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How soon can I exercise after the gastric bypass surgery (stomach stapling) operation?

After the stomach stapling surgery, most doctors recommend you exercise to help you lose the weight more quickly. Regular exercise can usually proceed after 6 weeks, but consult your doctor.

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Do I have to take medicine after surgery?

Your body needs to receive the proper vitamins in order to survive. Your doctor will also go over with you any medicines you need to take. Most patients actually stop taking their medication from pre-surgery because they are healthy!

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What kind of foods will I be able to eat and drink?

Stomach Stapling: Usually right after the operation, you are put on a strict menu of liquid foods. You will be on a strict diet plan while you heal. The doctor will let you know what foods you will be able to eat and when you start eating them. Most patients become lactose intolerant after the operation. Your obesity treatment facility should work with you after the operation to change your diet and show you which foods are good for you and which are not. You will eat whatever you want, but in small portions. Even so, your appetite will feel satiated, and you will not feel hungry.

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How fast will I lose the weight after stomach stapling, and is it dangerous?

Most of the weight will be lost in the first six months. Some patients have even been able to loose weight for up to two years after the surgery. This surgery is a tool to help you loose weight, and exercise and diet will help you achieve your ideal body weight. Losing weight this fast is generally not a dangerous procedure if you maintain your vitamin supplements and diet. If you undergo the lap band procedure, your weight loss will be slower but you can achieve a similar result. Your doctor should support you after the operation.

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Can I get this weight loss surgery reversed?

Stomach stapling is designed to be permanent, but in general gastric bypass procedures are reversible. But ask your doctor about your specific situation.

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How about after stomach stapling surgery - are there support groups?

Many treatment facilities have a network of support groups in their area and we highly recommend that you participate in them. Ask your doctor.

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I had stomach stapling surgery but have since forgotten my doctors' recommended daily nutritional requirements and I can't get in contact with him. Can you help me?

We suggest that you contact us to get more information about diet plans, weight loss products and supplements required after a specific bariatric surgical procedure. If you have forgotten who your doctor was just choose another practicing near you, they would be happy to help you.

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How do I print my current web page?

There are several ways to print the web page currently displayed in your browser. Choose any one of these methods to print the current page.

  • Click the "Print" button in your Internet Explorer toolbar. Look for the icon of the printer at the top of your browser.
  • From the File menu, choose Print... When the print dialog box appears, click "Print."
  • Hold down the Control key on your keyboard and press the "p" button (Cntrl+P).
  • Point your mouse cursor at any blank space on the web page itself and right click your mouse button. From the menu that appears, select "Print."

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Disclaimer: California Thin is an independent service offered by BCCI, Inc. It is meant to be an educational site that offers patients information to help them investigate weight loss surgery. Although the site has been reviewed for accuracy, BCCI, Inc. cannot be held liable for inaccurate data or conclusions drawn from the site. Neither information obtained from this site nor e-mailed correspondence from BCCI, Inc. constitutes a doctor/patient relationship. This web site cannot be considered a doctor's opinion for your situation and is not a substitute for medical evaluation and counsel. Any health care providers listed here are private, independent practitioners.
If scheduled for surgery a Non-refundable fee $3500.00 applies. © BCCI, Inc. All rights reserved .
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