I guess I need to start saying “my surgeon” now, because the meeting went really well. I signed up! But first let me back up a little. I’m going to tell you what an initial consultation for gastric sleeve surgery is like.
I was sitting in the waiting room staring at my fat ankles (pictured), and thinking how in a few months they might be more slender when the doctor’s assistant called me back to take my vitals. They really know fat people there – my back was to the scale, and she didn’t read out the number.
After all that fun, I watched a 20 minute video where I learned about gastric sleeve in general and also the doctor’s qualifications. He’s been doing the surgery for 15 years and has a zero mortality rate, one person who got an infection, one person who had post-op bleeding, and one person who had a staple leak. I rate those as pretty good odds.
In the video I learned that for 10 days pre-op I’ll be on a liquid diet to shrink my liver. Weeks 1 & 2 post-op I’ll also be on liquids, and then at 3 & 4 weeks I’ll be on thin purées. Mmm, sounds delicious(!), but I’ll do whatever it takes.
We talked about my motivation for getting the surgery. He said that he’s heard it all, like people whose husbands are pressuring them to do it. My reasons are health and vanity, and he thought those were fine. He also liked that I knew someone who has had the surgery, my cousin, because from her I have a realistic version of what it is like to have the surgery.
I take a couple of time-release medications which I was concerned about continuing after the surgery. They are very important to my day-to-day living, and I really didn’t want to discontinue them. (I already know that there are no instant-release alternatives.) I was so surprised when, after asking me how large the pills were, he said I could continue taking them! Worst-case, I’d just have to increase their dosage if they weren’t getting absorbed well enough. Sweet!
By the end of my appointment I’d had all my questions answered, and I decided to sign up for the surgery. I paid $275 for the initial consultation, and then a $500 enrollment fee. The enrollment fee covers my pre-op visit 2 weeks before surgery, post-op visit, nutritionist appointment, pre-op liquid diet, and 1 month’s worth of multivitamins and B12. I thought that was a pretty decent deal. (More about the total cost of gastric sleeve surgery in California.)
I have to pay separately for the psychologist appointment, but they pointed me to an online practitioner who has you fill out forms online and then do your appointment by phone for $150. And it is cheaper than the in-person counselor they work with. That is good for me since I’m self-paying for all of this.
I also asked them how soon I could have the surgery, and the only upside of paying for this all myself is that I don’t have to jump through any insurance hoops. After I see the nutritionist and the phone psychologist, I can schedule the surgery for March! Wow. It’s starting to get real now.
I hope this answers many of your questions about initial consultations for gastric sleeve surgery, but if I left something out, please ask in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer!