Bariatric Surgical Program - Frequently Asked Questions
Is bariatric surgery right for everyone?
No, bariatric surgery is not right for everyone. Bariatric surgery is life-changing and requires life-long commitment to making and following lifestyle changes for success after surgery.
Am I eligible for bariatric surgery?
To be eligible for bariatric surgery, you must:
- Be a resident of Saskatchewan with an active Saskatchewan health card,
- Be over the age of 18,
- Be a non-smoker at the time of referral (this includes vaping and marijuana),
- Have no active substance abuse,
- Not be pregnant or plan to become pregnant while in the program,
- Have a BMI between 40 and 70. However, a BMI between 35 and 40 may be considered for treatment at the program, if you have one or more medical conditions which are being managed such as cardiopulmonary problems, sleep apnea, diabetes mellitus, and high blood pressure;
- Have had previous weight loss attempts,
- Be motivated and be willing to make food and lifestyle changes,
- Participate in all aspects of the program, and
- Be mentally and medically fit for surgery.
How can I make sure my referral was received?
All patients will receive a letter confirming their referral was received. If you have further questions, please call our main number at 306-766-0398.
Do I have to lose weight in the program?
Depending on your BMI, you may be required to lose weight. In our program, you learn to make healthy lifestyle changes. When you lead a healthier lifestyle by changing your habits and behaviors, weight loss is a positive side effect. You will not be discontinued from the program for losing too much weight.
What happens if I can’t make my appointments?
Please call the clinic as soon as you are aware that you need to cancel your appointment. Patients are waiting a long time to get into our program and appointment times are limited. When you do not show up for appointments or arrive late, this could be a missed opportunity for another patient. You will be dismissed from the program if you have two missed appointments or two cancellations. Your appointment will be rescheduled if you are more than 15 minutes late for your appointment or class.
What if I have a major life event while in the program? Can I stop without having to go back on the waitlist?
We know that sometimes things happen in life which may prevent your ability to continue with the program for a short time. You are allowed to place yourself on hold one time during the program for up to a maximum of 6 months.
I have to travel a long distance, is there another option?
You will need to commit to some travel to our Regina Clinic. In the program there are a minimum of 12 appointments and 5 classes you need to attend. We offer virtual care options for some of our appointments and classes however, we will need to see you in person for certain appointments that require in person assessment.
What are the risks of bariatric surgery?
The risks of your surgery will be discussed throughout the program and when you meet with the surgeon.
Will I still be able to take my medications after surgery?
All medications are reviewed at your first appointment. Some may need to be changed or adjusted prior to surgery. Medications are then reviewed after surgery before you are discharged from hospital.
Is the surgery reversible?
No, the surgery is not reversible.
Do I need any specific tests done?
Blood work is completed five times during the program: prior to your initial visit, before surgery, at the 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year after surgery. In addition to blood work, your physician may order other tests such as a sleep study.
Are there targets for optimal blood sugar control in order to be approved for surgery?
We encourage you to work with your care provider to optimize your blood sugar control and achieve a target HbA1c of less than 8.5 prior to being booked for a consult with the surgeon.
How long will I be in the hospital?
Most of our patients spend about 2 nights in hospital. You should plan to have someone drive you home the day you are discharged from hospital.
When can I return to work?
Most of our patients can return to work approximately 6 weeks after surgery.
Is there a cost for the surgery?
The two surgeries performed in Regina (Roux en Y Gastric Bypass and Sleeve Gastrectomy) are covered by Saskatchewan Health for Saskatchewan residents. Currently we only accept Saskatchewan residents with Saskatchewan Health coverage into the program.
Will I have to follow a special diet?
Yes, you will need to follow a liquid, high protein diet 2 weeks before surgery and 2 weeks after surgery. As part of your pre-surgical diet, you need to be prepared to spend about $200 for protein powder and supplements during this time. This allows the surgeon to perform the surgery safely and easily. After surgery, your diet will progress from a liquid to a soft/pureed diet to solid foods.
Will I have to take supplements?
Yes, you will be required to take multivitamins and minerals everyday, lifelong. You will need to have bloodwork done routinely to determine the need for extra supplements.
Are there additional costs to the program?
The program does not cover the cost of travel to our clinic or your nutrition needs such as protein powder, vitamins and mineral supplements. If you live outside Regina, you need to prepare to pay for your travel to and from our clinic. Lifelong, you will spend about $50 per month for vitamins and mineral supplements.
Will I have excess skin?
Yes, excess skin is very common after weight-loss surgery. If you experience excess skin, there are surgeries offered for skin removal, some of these surgeries may be covered by Saskatchewan Health. Read more information about what is covered in the Prior Approval Abdominal Panniculectomy document below.
How do I manage my diabetes on a liquid diet?
Most people lose weight on a liquid diet. When you lose weight, you need to closely manage your diabetes. Check your blood sugars regularly and record the results. Your medication may need to be adjusted during the liquid diet and as you lose weight. It is important to talk to your family doctor or diabetes team before starting the liquid diet.
What should I do before surgery? What can I work on while I am waiting to start the program?
- Watch the Bariatric Surgical Program Videos,
- Watch and work through the Healthy Living Modules,
- Maintain a smoke free lifestyle (this includes vaping and smoking marijuana),
- Decrease drinking alcohol, beer, and wine (with the goal to eliminate),
- Eliminate drinking carbonated beverages of all kinds (pop, beer, carbonated water),
- Decrease consuming caffeine,
- Eliminate using non-prescription or illicit drugs.
Can I become pregnant after weight loss surgery?
We recommend that you avoid becoming pregnant for at least 18 months after surgery. This is because after surgery you may experience rapid weight loss and your nutrition may not be optimal. Optimal nutrition is needed to ensure proper growth and development of the baby. During pregnancy, weight loss should not be the focus.
Can the weight be regained?
Yes, weight can be regained. Losing weight and keeping the weight off depends on how well you have prepared yourself and implemented lifestyle changes before surgery. You will need to continue to follow your diet and exercise program after surgery. Bariatric surgery is only a tool that helps but ultimately it is the changes in eating habits and lifestyle that make you successful.
What are the timelines associated with progressing through the Bariatric Surgical Program?
One your referral is accepted, it will take 36 months or greater before you start in the program. When you begin the program you will attend 3 required classes taken over a 3 to 6 month timeframe. After you are done the classes, you will be booked for individual assessments with the team. The process of individual assessments can take from 4 to 12 months depending on your own personal circumstances and progress.
I am an educated person, can I skip the classes and proceed directly to surgery?
We understand that there is a lot of information about bariatric surgery available and every patient journey is different. The surgery itself is only a part of this program. Our program is broad in nature; it covers many parts of health improvement which includes mental health and wellness, physical activity and nutritional changes. We work with our patients on an individual basis to help them meet their health goals and achieve success with bariatric surgery. The program therefore does not allow for missed classes and appointments. You are required to attend and work through all components of this program.