Houston Weight Loss Surgery – How Much Weight Will I Lose And Other Questions Answered

In this episode of the Houston weight loss surgery podcast, Dr. Clifton Thomas takes the top questions he gets asked and goes into detail with each of them. He even talks about how much weight someone can lose with obesity surgery.


David: Hi, this is David Dutton from houstonweightlossdoctor.com and this is another episode of the Houston weight loss podcast. I am on the phone with Dr. Clifton Thomas, Houston’s most respected bariatric surgeon. What we are going to talk about today are some of the top questions Dr. Thomas gets when it comes to Houston weight loss surgery, any type of bariatric surgery. Dr. Thomas, are you there?

Dr. Thomas: I’m here, hello David.

David: Hey. Good morning. Thanks for doing the call. We’ve got about six questions that seem to be the top questions people are asking you, so what we are going to do is to have you go through each one and have you elaborate on those. Is that o.k.?

Dr. Thomas: That’s good.

David: Let’s just say someone has done the research and they have decided that they really want to go through with the surgery. How do they get started?

Dr. Thomas: Well they get started by asking questions. That is probably the biggest obstacle that any of them have. They have figured out that diets don’t work. What can I do, maybe I should consider weight loss surgery. So they start by asking questions, then they go to the website and learn more about weight loss surgery and tap into some of the education that is on our website that goes through different modules on gastric bypass, the sleeve gastrectomy and the lap band and become a little more educated.

Then they call and make an appointment and we give free consultations for people to come in and it is really an educational visit where we start the ball rolling and find out if surgery is right for them.

David: Let’s say that someone wants to do the surgery and they have the consultation with you. Typically how long is the process?

Dr. Thomas: The process varies from person to person based on their insurance. Insurance companies sometime require a few things to be done. One is consecutive monthly diets by a dietician. It is something that has never been proven to help patients medically, but it is something they require so currently most of them are down to about three months of consecutive diets and some don’t require it. Again, that is something that has never been proven to be effective.

If they do not have those requirements, the next step is frankly finding out that their medical problems are stabilized and if they are a good candidate to go to surgery. Once that has happened we can actually proceed pretty quickly.

David: Which leads me to my next question, how long does the surgery actually take?

Dr. Thomas: The operations generally take about an hour. Lap band is a little quicker. The gastric bypass and the sleeve gastrectomy are somewhere around an hour. Most patients go home the morning after surgery and with the lap band they tend to go home the same day of surgery. I have gotten to where I do more gastric bypass and more sleeve gastrectomys and those generally go home the morning after surgery. Generally doing everything within a week.

David: Oh wow, which is actually another reason why someone should look at the sleeve surgery versus having lap band. I know we talked about that on another podcast that it is kind of a more outdated procedure so the sleeve will help you recover quicker.

Dr. Thomas: Well the sleeve definitely does more of the work to help you lose weight and help keep it off than does the band and that’s because there are some chemical changes that go on in your body that truly does some of the work for you so it is a better tool. That’s the way I like to think about is.

David: So, how long was the person usually in the hospital?

Dr. Thomas: Usually overnight and sometimes one more night, but that’s all. They go home and once they go home they actually return to some activities right away. Often doing things like going to one of their kid’s baseball games maybe the second day after surgery.

David: That is amazing how far we have come along. The next day or maybe a couple days after you are returning to normal life. That is amazing.

Dr. Thomas: It really is amazing because I have done it long enough to have seen it both ways.

David: So the big question that people are wanting to know is, how much weight will I lose?

Dr. Thomas: Yes that is interesting. What is interesting about surgery is that there is something that magically goes on about surgery where people tend to lose somewhere around twelve to fifteen pounds that first week. Now that is the water weight that are body’s really holding on to and it’s weight that diuretics and those kind of things don’t really get rid of. It’s a very unhealthy weight, so it’s not muscle and fat that you are losing, it’s water weight that your body is trying to hold on.

After you have lost that twelve to fifteen pounds that first week you already feel a whole lot better. So patients walk into the office a week after surgery and they look like they have never had an operation. They are already feeling better, their blood pressure is already better, their diabetes is already better. It is pretty amazing to see that rapid of a response.

Generally by the end of the first month with the gastric bypass and the sleeve gastrectomy they are going to lose somewhere in the twenty five pound range the first month which may be twenty five percent of what they need to lose or it may be more. With these operations we are talking about getting to their desired weight sometime within a year.

David: OK, that’s awesome. They’ve got to feel like a million bucks. I know they are recovering from surgery, but after the surgery it’s just got to be an amazing transformation. I seen some of the pictures of your clients and it is hard to grasp that it is the same person.

Dr. Thomas: It really is amazing. I’ve again been doing it for quite a while and I enjoy seeing it and am amazed every day as well as the patients and family and everyone else involved.
David: So let me ask you this, does the procedure ever fail? Is there actually a chance that someone will gain their weight back?

Dr. Thomas: We do have failures. There are more failures with the lap band because again you don’t get the chemical changes in your body that helps you do some of the work. With all three operations, the most important thing for long term success is to stay focused, start developing good habits, good eating habits.

In the beginning particularly with gastric bypass and the sleeve gastrectomy, you are kind of driven to do that anyway so it’s really a good time to establish those habits and I think it takes one to two years to get habits firmly established. If you rely on the operation to do all the work for you then you are going to regain some weight or possibly regain a lot of weight.

David: That is one of the things I want to talk to you about here in the future is developing good habits. I know you try to live the life that you actually teach your patients. You try to live a balanced life and I know you go to the gym every day so in a future podcast I want to talk about how do you personally develop good eating habits and good exercise habits and that type of thing because it is really important.

Dr. Thomas:
I would enjoy that. It is something I spend a lot of time with. It’s something we talk about every day in the office when patients come back.

David: One of the cool things I know your office does that not every bariatric surgeon does in Houston, is you have a nutrionist on staff and I believe a counselor, correct me if I am wrong, but a counselor that kind of works with people after the fact, after they have surgery so people can actually continue their success so they don’t gain they weight back.

Dr. Thomas: Well, that is correct and recently we are trying to kick that up several levels where we can have online access to both the dietician for nutritional information, where to shop, what to buy, how to eat and also with our counselor for just emotional support. One thing she does right now is talks to patients after that first visit because I recently realized that first visit is a really big thing for patients.

They have really had to overcome quite a few obstacles to get into the office and it is hugely emotional. They blame themselves for not being successful, so it is a really good time to talk to somebody I did a gastric bypass on eight years ago and her background was counseling and she is a warm fuzzy person that is easy to communicate with and understands what they are going through.

David: She was actually a patient of yours?

Dr. Thomas: Yes. I did a gastric bypass on her about eight years ago.
David: Wow. That is amazing. That’s really cool.

Dr. Thomas: Then our dietician as well, she is extremely knowledgeable. One of her big jobs is providing the insurance companies with the information that they need, but we are really going to try to tap into her amazing knowledge and her ability to teach and share that with patients.

David: That is very cool and again this is not common. You would think it would be with a lot of physicians but what you are offering is not that common so it is really good to take advantage of that.

Dr. Thomas: A lot of physicians have dieticians on staff and have access to emotional counseling through colleagues and things like that, but the online webinars and access in that manner as well as phone consultations, that is not done a lot.

David: Yes, and that is extremely important. Let’s talk about the last question, does Dr. Thomas take out of the area or out of state patients? Talk to us about that.

Dr. Thomas: So the lap band in my mind is not a real good choice for people traveling to have the procedure done because the office follow up is intensive and they also need to come every two weeks . They need to easily be able to get from where they are to the office. With the lap band you are much more likely to have failure by not being able to keep this intense office visit regimen going so I do not choose to do people traveling with the lap band surgery.

The sleeve gastrectomy is a pretty safe operation. It is a pretty easy operation for people to travel, get the operation, get information and go home and start doing a lot of the follow up over the phone and through these webinars to give them the information they need for long term success. The gastric bypass is a pretty complex operation.

It is not an operation I encourage people to travel with because you really want to be there if they are having any issues after surgery. We have a very low incidence of complications, as low as any in the industry but the fact is they can happen and you want them to be fairly close to you, within a couple of hours.

David: OK. Awesome.

Dr. Thomas: So the sleeve gastrectomy is a great operation and I have had patients that have traveled. They usually know me through another patient and they have traveled from another state and they have done very, very well.

David: That’s great. That is very interesting to know. You have actually educated me about that as we talked before the call. I didn’t know that people actually even did that, but it makes sense especially if someone has already had success with you. You have tons of success stories and people like to do business that they know, like and trust. This is a very serious topic and if they have had a friend that has had success with you and they are definitely interested in traveling because they know you are good at what you do.

Dr. Thomas: I agree, it is the best way to get any patient.

David: Well thank you so much for doing this podcast, I really appreciate it and we will be talking next week.

Dr. Thomas: Thank you, David.

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