Five More Questions about Weight Loss Surgery, Answered


Dr. Neil Ghushe, Medical Director, Bariatric Program at South Shore Hospital

Neil Ghushe, M.D.

Recently, I participated in a Facebook Live as part of a partnership between South Shore Health and WCVB-TV called One Healthy Boston. We had a great conversation with the audience on Facebook, and I wanted to answer a few of the questions here on our blog for those who missed the online conversation.

Of course, you can always watch the video to see if we answered your questions about bariatric surgery, or see my previous post, Six Questions You Were Afraid to Ask about Weight Loss Surgery.

How much do you have to weigh to qualify for weight loss surgery?

Weight is obviously one of first criteria doctors consider—but it’s not the only one. We look at your Body Mass Index (BMI), which is your weight in relationship to your height. Candidates need to have a BMI of 35 or greater to qualify and a medical problem that’s associated with being obese—such as hypertension, sleep apnea, or diabetes. Patients with BMI of 40 or greater qualify for surgery without a weight-related medical problem.

How old is too old for weight loss surgery?

Qualifying for surgery depends on your goals, your health profile, and your associated risks. There isn’t a hard and fast guideline. I’ve operated on patients in their early 70s.

How long does it take to heal after weight loss surgery?

Recovery is generally pretty fast. Laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, which is the surgery we do most often at South Shore Hospital, takes about an hour of surgery time, one to two nights in the hospital, and then you go home. The first couple of weeks are spent recovering and adapting to the changes in your diet. Our bariatric support team is there for you every step of the way, from pre-surgery to helping you overcome those periodic challenges that come up, even 10 or 15 years later.

How can I get a referral for weight loss surgery?

Depending on your insurance, you may not need one. I always recommend talking to your primary care provider before deciding to explore weight loss surgery.

Is weight loss surgery covered by insurance?

Weight loss surgery is an important medical intervention and insurance companies typically do cover it. There may be different requirements medically and pre-operatively in order to get that coverage, depending on your insurance plan. We cover this topic during our free bariatric information sessions, which happen frequently on the South Shore.

Have more questions for our weight loss surgery team? We’d love to see you at one of our free Weight-Loss Surgery seminars. There, you’ll learn more about South Shore Hospital’s Center for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and get answers to your specific questions.

Register online or call us at 617-732-6960.