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Weight Loss Surgery - FAQ

Getting started with weight loss surgery 

Insurance authorization and out-of-pocket expenses 

Recovery after surgery 

Adjustable Gastric Band 

FAQ:   Getting Started with Weight Loss Surgery

Q: How do I get started in the program?

A: Please complete a new weight loss surgery patient packet, the General Surgery Health Assessment form, and the Insurance Verification Form  and obtain an initial consultation. Call 336-716-6099 to make an appointment. 

Q: How do I know which weight loss surgery to choose?

A: We encourage people to research the Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy, the Adjustable Gastric Band and the Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass. Please attend one of our free weekly seminars held in Winston-Salem, NC or Greensboro, NC in order to hear an overview of the procedures and meet one of our surgeons. Please call (336) 716-6099, Option 1, to schedule a seminar and find a location near to you.  Also consider attending one of our monthly Weight Loss Surgery Support Group meetings, to ask questions of post-surgical patients. Finally you will be able to discuss this decision at your individual consultation with the surgeon.

Q: How can I learn more about weight loss surgery?

A: We encourage everyone to attend one of our free weekly seminars. Pre-registration is highly recommended. Sign up online or by calling 336-716-6099. 

Q: What is a person's BMI?

A: BMI, or Body Mass Index, is a measure to determine if a person is at a healthy weight in relation to their height. Calculate your BMI.

Q: If I have a hiatal hernia, do I still qualify for weight loss surgery?

A: Yes. 

Q: What is considered a weight loss attempt?

A: Diets such as Weight Watcher's, Atkins, Slim Fast, portion-control; a physician-prescribed program; exercise; and medications such as Phentermine, Xenical/Alli, and Meridia. 

Q: Why am I limited to meeting only with this program's psychologist and nutritionist? If I have already been seen or am currently under the care of a psychologist or nutritionist/dietitian, can you use their evaluations?

A: We offer a multidisciplinary team approach to weight loss surgery. Our psychologist and nutritionists are trained to care for patients undergoing weight loss surgery. They will be following you long-term to ensure your success in making various lifestyle, behavior and dietary changes after surgery. 

Q: If I receive an appointment with the surgeon, can I schedule appointments for my psychological and nutritional evaluations before seeing him?

A: Yes, but confirm that the weight loss surgery procedure you want is covered by your insurance policy. 

FAQ:  Insurance Authorization and Out-of-pocket Expenses   

Q: How long does it take from the time my packet is received until my individual consultation with the surgeon? How long does the entire process take after you receive my completed packet?

A: If, after reviewing your materials, you are considered an appropriate candidate for weight loss surgery, it may take only two to three weeks for your initial consultation with the surgeon. The entire process takes about 60 to 90 days, depending on your preoperative requirements. 

Q: How long does the insurance authorization process take?

A: It can take anywhere from one to six weeks, depending on your insurance provider. The process may be prolonged if all necessary medical records are not made available to us. 

Q: What is the total cost and out-of-pocket expense for each type of weight loss surgery? Will I need to pay all expenses up front before the surgery?

A: Out-of-pocket expenses vary depending on your insurance policy. Regardless of your policy, all out-of-pocket expenses should be paid in full prior to surgery. 

Q: What insurance companies do you accept? Do you accept Medicaid and Medicare?

A: We accept most insurance companies. Yes, we accept Medicare and Medicaid. 

Q: How do I know if my insurance covers weight loss surgery?

A: Though we will do our best to assist you, it is your responsibility to determine if your insurance company considers weight loss surgery a covered benefit. We suggest you review your insurance policy carefully and consult with your company's Benefits Office to confirm coverage. Be sure to write down the name of the person with whom you speak just in case your coverage is later questioned. Once you complete the Insurance Verification form, our program can contact your insurance provider to determine coverage. 

Q: Are the fees associated with the psychologist's services covered by insurance?

A:  Responsibility for the psychologist's fees varies based on the type of insurance coverage and should be discussed on an individual basis with Dr. Jeff Smith. 

Q: How long is the insurance authorization process?

A: The insurance authorization process can take anywhere from one to six weeks depending on the insurance provider and where they are located in relation to Winston-Salem, NC. The process may be prolonged if all needed medical records are not turned in to us. 

Q: Is there any financial assistance for people needing help with their out-of-pocket expenses/deductibles?

A: No. 

Q: How much do the weight loss procedures cost for individuals paying out of pocket?

A: For individuals without coverage for weight loss surgery, a significant discount may be given for prompt and up front payment off the full rate for the Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy, the Adjustable Gastric Band or the Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass

FAQ:  Recovery After Surgery   

Q: What is the recovery period for each type of weight loss surgery?

A: One to three weeks for the Adjustable Gastric Band; two to three weeks for the Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy; two to six weeks for the Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass.  

Q: What will my diet look like after weight loss surgery?

A: After surgery, you must learn how to eat again. You will consume full liquids (soups, protein drinks and yogurt) for one to three weeks, pureed foods for two to three weeks, and then soft, regular foods. Your nutritionist will outline the post-operative diet progression in detail at the nutrition education class before surgery. Learn more about Life After Surgery

Q: How long will I be out of work after weight loss surgery?

A: Each patient is different. It can be anywhere from one to six weeks depending on the type of work you perform. 

Q: Will I need plastic surgery for the surplus skin after I lose a lot of weight?

A: That is not always the case. As a rule, plastic surgery will not be considered for at least a year or two after the operation since the skin will sometimes mold itself around the new body tissue. Give the skin the time it needs to adjust before you decide to have more surgery. 

Q: When is the next support group meeting and where is it held?

A: Our meetings are held at our Weight Management Center in Winston-Salem, NC. Check out our Support Group page to learn more and see the meeting schedule. 

Q: Do we do post-operative care for individuals who did not have their weight loss surgery done at our medical center?

A: That decision is made on a case-by-case basis. A prospective patient will need to complete a new patient packet and the General Surgery Health Assessment form for the surgeon to review and obtain an initial consultation with the surgeon. 

FAQ:  Adjustable Gastric Band     

Q: Does the Adjustable Gastric Band (Lap Band or Realize) require frequent office visits after surgery?

A: Follow-up appointments with your surgeon are a normal and very important part of bariatric surgery. Patients who choose to undergo the Adjustable Gastric Band procedure will have follow-up adjustments during some of these visits. 

Q: Does the Adjustable Gastric Band limit any physical activity?

A: The Adjustable Gastric Banding System should not hamper physical activity, including aerobics, stretching and strenuous exercise. 

Q: How is the Adjustable Gastric Band adjusted?

A: Adjustments are often done in the clinic. They involve passing a fine needle through the skin into the access port to add or subtract saline. Sometimes they must be performed in the X-ray department so your doctor can clearly see the access port. This process most often takes only a few minutes and most patients say it is nearly painless. 

Q: Do I have to be careful with the access port just underneath my skin?

A: The access port is placed under the skin in the abdominal wall. Once the incisions heal, it should not cause discomfort or limit any physical exercise. The only sensation you may experience from the port occurs when you go in for adjustments. If you feel persistent discomfort in the port area, let us know as soon as possible. 

Q: Can other people see that I have a port?

A: The port is placed under your skin and is generally not noticeable, even if that area of your abdomen is exposed. 

Q: Can the Adjustable Gastric Band be removed?

A: The Adjustable Gastric Banding System may be removed. Surgeons report that the stomach generally returns to its original shape once the band is removed. Some patients may gain more weight. 

Q: Is it true that the Adjustable Gastric Band seems "tighter" in the morning?

A: This is a fairly common feeling. During the day, the water content in the body changes andmay cause the Adjustable Gastric Band to feel "tighter" some of the time. Some women say the band feels tighter during menstruation. 

Q: Will I feel hungry or deprived with the Adjustable Gastric Band?

A: The Adjustable Gastric Band helps you eat less and feel full by reducing the capacity of your stomach and increasing the time it takes food to move through your digestive system. You should feel full after a small meal. If you follow your nutritionist's guidelines and chew your food well, you should not feel hungry or deprived. Remember that the Adjustable Gastric Band is a tool to help you change your eating habits. 

Q: What happens if I become ill with the Adjustable Gastric Band?

A: One of the band's major advantages is that it can be adjusted. If your illness requires you to eat more, the band can be temporarily loosened. The Adjustable Gastric Band may need to be removed if it cannot be loosened enough. 

Q: Can I become pregnant with the Adjustable Gastric Band?

A: Becoming pregnant can be easier as you lose weight. Your menstrual cycle may become more regular. If you need to eat more while you are pregnant, the Adjustable Gastric Band can be loosened. After pregnancy, the band may be made tighter again and you can resume losing weight. 

Q: Will I need to take vitamin supplements?

A: Yes. It's possible you will not get enough vitamins from three small meals a day. At your regular check-ups, we will evaluate whether you are getting enough vitamin B12, folic acid and iron. 

Q: What about other medications?

A: You should be able to take prescribed medication, though you may need to crush pills or open capsules. Always ask the doctor who prescribes the drugs. You may need to avoid taking aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain relievers because they may irritate the stomach. The problems these drugs may cause could result in removal of the Adjustable Gastric Band. 

Q: Can I go out to eat with the Adjustable Gastric Band?

A: Order only a small amount of food, such as an appetizer. Eat slowly. Finish at the same time as your table companions. You might want to let your host or hostess know in advance that you cannot eat very much. 

Q: Can I drinkalcohol with the Adjustable Gastric Band?

A: Alcohol has a high number of calories and breaks down vitamins. An occasional glass of wine or other alcoholic beverage is not considered harmful to weight loss. 

Q: Can I eat anything in moderation?

A: After your stomach has healed, you may eat most foods that don't cause you discomfort. However, because you can only eat a little, it is important to include foods full of important vitamins and nutrients, advised by your surgeon and/or nutritionist. If you eat foods that contain lots of sugar and fat or drink liquids full of "empty" calories, such as milkshakes, the effect of the Adjustable Gastric Band may be greatly reduced or even cancelled. 


Quick Reference

Weight Management Center


Mon - Fri, 8:30 to 4:30

Our Locations: 

Medical Plaza - Country Club
4614 Country Club Road
Winston-Salem, NC 27104

Medical Plaza - North Elm
3903 North Elm Street
Greensboro, NC 27455

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Fox 8 Interview

Fox 8 Interview

Is weight loss surgery right for you? Dr. Fuzz Fernandez discusses to pros and cons with Fox 8 in Winston-Salem, NC.

Last Updated: 04-28-2016
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