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Before You Have Weight Loss Surgery for PCOS

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Updated August 25, 2009

Before you have weight loss surgery for PCOS, there are many things to consider. There is an unmistakable link between PCOS and obesity. The hormonal changes that occur with this disease aren’t just an imbalance of the reproductive hormones such as estrogen, testosterone and progesterone. Insulin, the body’s tool for dealing with sugar, is also affected. For people who have been battling their weight, weight loss surgery (WLS) may seem like a dream come true. Serious thought and consideration are required before deciding to proceed with having weight loss surgery for PCOS.

Will Having WLS for PCOS Help?

If you are significantly overweight (over 100 lbs overweight), and have been unsuccessful in losing weight despite multiple serious attempts, having weight loss surgery for PCOS may be an option. While losing weight will not cure the syndrome, it may restore a regular menstrual period and reduce the severity of the symptoms.

Who Is Eligible for Weight Loss Surgery?

Not everyone who is overweight is able to have weight loss surgery for PCOS. You need to have at least 75 to 100 lbs to lose, or a BMI (Body Mass Index) of at least 35 to 40 or greater. Sometimes the surgeon will consider someone who has less weight to lose if they are facing significant medical complications.

How Do I Find a Reputable Surgeon?

You can check About.com’s UCompare Healthcare for a list of bariatric physicians (doctors who specialize in weight loss) by state.

What Kind of Procedures Are Available?

There are a number of different techniques and types of surgery that a surgeon can use, depending on the patient. Make sure to speak with your doctor about what he recommends for you. The most-well known procedures include the Lap Band and Gastric Bypass.

Risks of Having WLS

As with any surgical procedure, weight loss surgery has its own risks. These include pulmonary embolism, blood clots, infection, pain, inability to tolerate food, excess skin, dumping syndrome, malnutrition, ulcers, constipation and anemia. This article from About.com’s Surgery Guide provides thorough information on these potential risks of having weight loss surgery.

Is Weight Loss Surgery Covered by Insurance?

Before having surgery, it is extremely important to contact your insurance carrier to discuss your coverage and the process for obtaining approval for weight loss surgery. Most carriers have specific requirements such as using a particular surgeon, or getting pre-authorization that must be completed before surgery.

What If I Don’t Have Coverage?

If your policy does not cover weight loss surgery, or you do not have insurance, you have a few options. Some hospitals may offer payment plans where you pay a certain amount each month. If this is not possible, you may be able to take a personal loan to cover the cost. Before taking a loan, you will want to read the documentation very carefully and understand your payment plan.

Recovery

Recovering from weight loss surgery can be difficult. Besides dealing with typical issues after surgery, such as pain, WLS has its own recovery issues. Because each surgeon has their own post-op instructions, you will need to speak with them for specific details. However, you can expect dietary restrictions and activity restrictions for a period of time.
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