Frequently asked questions about weight loss surgery

The weight loss surgery team at Spire Thames Valley Hospital on the borders of Buckinghamshire and west London have provided some answers to frequently asked questions about weight loss surgery, including questions about specific weight loss procedures including gastric banding, gastric bypass, gastric balloon and gastric sleeve.

This list is not exhaustive and your bariatric surgeon is the best person to advise you on the each of the procedures and how they would impact you.

How do I choose which weight loss treatment is best for me?

No one weight loss surgery is better than the other. The best one for you is the one that suits your current medical conditions, your eating patterns, your weight loss requirements and one that you can commit to. Your weight loss surgeon will give you the best possible advice during your consultation and you will be given time to consider your options and ask more questions if you are still unsure.

What is the process for weight loss surgery at Spire Thames Valley Hospital?

You will need to ask your GP for a letter of referral to the Spire Thames Valley Hospital. You will be seen first by the dietician. His report goes to the surgeon prior to your consultation with him. The surgeon will advise you regarding the different treatments and you will have plenty of time to ask questions and raise any concerns you may have. He may need time to get more information from your GP. Only when he has all the information necessary and he is sure that surgery is in your best interests will he proceed. Once the type of treatment is agreed you will be seen by the pre-assessment nurse at the Spire Thames Valley Hospital and may be placed on a special pre-surgery diet.

Will my insurance cover the procedure?

At the moment most insurance companies do not recognise weight loss procedures in their policies.

How can I pay for my treatment?

For payment advice contact our self-pay co-ordinator at Spire Thames Valley Hospital on 01753 665404 or email

Will my current medical conditions affect my surgery?

Many people on medication undergo weight loss surgery. It is important you let the surgeon know of any treatment you are receiving to ensure that all the necessary investigations are completed before proceeding. This ensures that any risks of surgery are minimized. After surgery, it is likely that you will have to take your medication in a liquid form or crush any tablets you normally take.

How long will I need off work?

For the gastric balloon procedure you may need a day or two off work. For surgical weight loss procedures most people can return to work after two to three weeks unless they have a manual job where they may need a little longer off work.

Can I drive after surgery?

You must  check with your insurance company. DVLA policy is that you must not drive for 10 days after any operation. You must be able to perform an emergency stop safely.

Will I have unsightly scars?

The balloon procedure is non-surgical and doesn't result in scarring. If you have the keyhole surgeries you will have 5 very small scars equally spaced across your upper abdomen. Wounds should be healed within two to three weeks and will fade over time.

Will I have a lot of excess skin after surgery?

It is possible to have excess skin after weight loss. This is different for each individual. It depends on the amount of weight lost, a person’s age, their skin condition and their commitment to exercise. You can be referred to our cosmetic surgeons but this is not recommended until two years after surgery when your weight loss has stabilized.

Will I have to take medication after surgery?

You will be given advice about any supplements and medication required to support you following your surgery. However, you may be able to reduce or stop completely some of your current medication. Any medication taken pre-operatively will be discussed with you prior to your treatment. You will be monitored continually to ensure that you are fit and well and you are progressing with your weight loss.

What can I eat after surgery?

You will liaise very closely with our dieticians who will give you a specific diet plan tailored to your individual needs after your surgery. The aim of the weight loss treatments is to help individuals change their lifestyle and make healthier food choices. The treatments can help you but all require your commitment if they are to work in the long-term.

Will I be able to drink alcohol after surgery?

It is best to avoid alcohol for the first six to eight weeks of the ‘weaning’ period immediately following your surgery. There is no reason why it should be completely avoided, but alcohol should be consumed in moderation as it is high in calories. Also, following surgery you will find that you may feel intoxicated much quicker. Alcohol is absorbed into your blood stream much more rapidly as there is less food to absorb it in your stomach.

Should I exercise after surgery?

You will be encouraged to exercise gradually following surgery. It is an important part of your recovery plan and of your weight loss.

Can I still enjoy going out for a meal after surgery?

Of course! Although your treatment will affect the amount you can eat it will not prevent you from going out. You will, however, have to choose wisely from the menu.

What happens if I have a problem?

You will have regular follow-ups included in your fixed price package at Spire Thames Valley Hospital. However, if something can not wait until your next follow-up then you can call your consultant’s administration team. If you have a medical emergency you can call the Spire Thames Valley Hospital emergency helpline number which we will give you.

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