Like with everything these days, the first step is finance. The first thing people usually do is contact their insurance company and find out if they cover weight loss surgery. I suggest you skip this part. Why? Because there are thousands of people out there who have been told no by their insurance companies who went on to have their surgeries and the insurance did pay. It will not hurt to check and see if your employer has an exclusion clause in your policy. That is the hardest one to get past. If your employer has opted not to include weight loss surgery (as a way to get a lower cost on the insurance) it is harder to get coverage and you may have to go to your human resource person to see if they can add the wls to your policy. There are a lot of ways to get around insurance issues. Basicly, if your doctor says you need this surgery in order to be healthy, you have a shot. You may have to fight for it, but don't give up before the fight.
Next, you need to find a doctor. This is not always easy in some parts of the country. For example, in Memphis TN, when I began; there were only two doctors who did this type of surgery. Both had a waiting list of 6 - 9 months. That is just to get in. Then there are the pre-test and insurance approval times. I was looking at a year to get my surgery. In a years time, insurance tends to change. Life seems to change. Also, I am not the most patient person, and a year seemed like forever to me.
(I managed to find a qualified doctor in Mississippi who could see me in 3 months. I worked with the insurance company and he was accepted on my policy. I got my appointment in Aug. 2002 and had my surgery in Sept. 2002)
When you find your doctor there are several things you need to ask.
1. What kind of surgeries does he do?
Some doctors do NOT do surgery lap, only open. If this is a concern for you, you want to know before you have waited 9 months for the appointment.
2. What pre-test does he require?
You want to make sure he requires a complete work up. This is major surgery and you want to know that your doctor is concerned with your health.
3. Does he require you to read any special materials? Will he test you and make sure you did the reading? (yes some do this).
4. Does he require you see any videos?
5. Do you have to go to any training or support groups?
6. Will he let you use your own doctors for your pre-test and Physc. exam?
(some doctors have their on groups of doctors they want to use and if they are not on your insurance this can get very expensive real quick)
7. What hospital does he use?
8. Does the hospital he use have a bariatric unit? Are they equipted for caring for an extremely obese person in the event something goes wrong?
9. How long does he require you to stay in the hospital?
(some doctors are sending people home in 24 hrs, while others are keeping patients a week. This is important to know.)
10. How much after care is included in the cost of the surgery?
You will need after care for the rest of your life. Most doctors include the first year. You will need a lot of care the first 12 months.
11. Finally, what is his mortality rate. The national average is 1 death in every 200 surgeries. Don't freak out here. You have to consider some patients are seriously ill with other conditions by the time they get their surgeries. Many are so obese they can't get up and do the walking after and this results in blood clots. Ask your doctor for his average. My doctor had one death in 500, and that was a 700 pound patient who had already had several heart attacks.
If the doctor answers all these questions to your satisfaction, you are ready to rock and roll. Do not be timid about asking anything. This is your life we are talking about. They are being paid well for the service and you need to be completely informed before you take this step.