Wait Before Weight Loss Surgery May Be Unnecessary

If you’re considering weight loss surgery and hoping to have your insurance cover a portion of the cost, you’ll probably be instructed to wait six months before having the bariatric procedure. During this time, the insurance company wants to see you starting to diet and exercise, showing a commitment to the lifestyle changes that will be necessary to maintain weight loss after surgery. New research suggests that this waiting period, however, may be unnecessary.

A study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric evaluated 440 bariatric surgery patients, including gastric bypass and gastric banding patients. Of those 440, 116 endured an insurance-mandated 6-month waiting period. Their results were compared to other weight loss surgery patients who were not required to wait to have surgery. According to the study’s author, Dr. Timothy Kuwada of the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C., the waiting period did not lead to a significant increase in weight loss.

While this study may not make a strong case for getting rid of the 6-month waiting period-the author did note that the requirement made sense in light of the cost of the surgery-it may spark new discussion about what sort of requirements should be inflicted on potential bariatric surgery patients. While lifestyle changes have been proven to be necessary in order to achieve significant, long-term weight loss with surgery, the study shows that a 6-month waiting period may not be sufficient for ensuring those lifestyle changes take place.

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