Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

Who qualifies for surgical treatment (Bariatric Surgery) of severe obesity?

  1. Patients who are 100 pounds or more over ideal body weight according to the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Height/Weight tables (Midpoint of weight range for medium frame) or whose Body Mass Index (BMI) is greater than 40.
  2. Patients who weigh less than the amount recommended in guideline 1 (or whose BMI is 35 or more), and who also have other serious medical obesity-related conditions known to be improved by weight loss. These conditions include serious obesity-related breathing disorders, heart disease, poorly-controlled diabetes or high blood pressure, and orthopedic problems of the weight-bearing joints that can be improved with weight loss.

What are the risks of having Bariatric surgery?

As with any major surgical procedure, complications can occur. These include the potential of:

  • • re-operation
  • • wound infection
  • • abscess inside the abdominal cavity
  • • bleeding
  • • respiratory problems, including pneumonia, pneumothorax and pulmonary embolism (blood clots in the lung)
  • • band slippage
  • • port infection
  • • partial obstruction of the new stomach outlet/opening
  • • splenectomy (removal of the spleen)
  • • abdominal wall incisional hernia
  • • death

These complications occur very infrequently with an experienced bariatric surgeon, however, any questions you may have regarding these problems should be addressed in depth with Dr. Luttrell.

What are some reasons a person should not have obesity surgery?

  1. Drug and/or alcohol addiction
  2. Unstable psychiatric disorders
  3. HIV/AIDS or anemic blood disorders

How much weight can I expect to lose?

Over 90% of patients, in our personal experience, will at least reach a weight to within 25-50 pounds of ideal body weight.

How fast will I lose weight?

How fast weight is lost depends on age, sex, activity, eating habits, and how overweight one is. The majority of our patients will lose most of their excess weight within the first year of surgery.

What guarantee do I have the surgery will be successful?

There are no guarantees in medicine and surgery. Patients considering an operation must be fully informed about the benefits versus the possible side effects and complications. No operation will automatically succeed or provide benefit, without the patient’s full cooperation.

Do I need a referral from my doctor?

We recommend discussing surgery with your family physician as part of your decision-making process and do require a recommendation (letter of clearance) prior to surgery. Many insurance carriers do not require a referral from a general practitioner, however it is required by Tricare.

How long do I stay in the hospital after surgery and how long is recovery time before I can start working out?

There is an overnight stay after the operation. Most patients are back to work within a week. After your first post-op visit with Dr. Luttrell, he would best be able to tell you when you can resume working out. Typically, you can start walking immediately. Abdominal exercises should typically be avoided for 12 weeks.

What are the age limits for having this surgery?

While we have performed the LAP-BAND® successfully on patients of extreme ages, most insurance plans typically have an age limit of 18 and older.

Can the operation be reversed?

Yes. The LAP-BAND® is completely reversible.

Can women have children after this surgery?

Yes. After successful weight loss following surgery, pregnant women tend to be healthier and bear healthier infants with fewer complications than morbidly obese women. Pregnancy is best deferred for 1 year following surgery.

I live out-of-town and plan on attending one of the seminars as well as speaking with Dr. Luttrell. Is there a charge for this initial visit with him or is it covered in the overall charge?

The seminar is free, but there is a charge for the consultation. If you have insurance you would be responsible for your co-pay.

If I am a cash patient, how long would it take to get a consultation appointment and how soon would I be able to have the surgery?

You can attend the seminar on a Thursday and can then schedule an initial consultation in one of our clinics. Psychology and nutritionist evaluations are mandatory and depending on medical history, there may be additional requirements. We do our best to meet all of our patients’ timeline requests; barring any other health issue, the typical amount of time would be around three weeks.

Do insurance companies pay for this procedure?

Coverage for surgical management of morbid obesity, when medically indicated, varies among insurance carriers and the plan offered by the employer through the insurance carrier. We accept Medicare patients and are in-network with all major insurance companies. We recommend you read over our pre-surgery information in regards to contacting your insurance company and asking the right questions.

Are financial arrangements available where there is limited or no insurance coverage?

We work with several companies. Please call for details.

I am interested in the LAP-BAND® surgery and have Arkansas Medicaid. Does medicaid pay for this surgery and if not could you give me the approximate cost?

Medicaid will only cover the procedure if it is performed at a Center of Excellence for Bariatrics, which would be Baptist Hospital. We do not perform surgeries at Baptist, so Medicaid would not pay for us to perform the surgery. The self-pay cost for the LAP-BAND® is $12,850 at Saline Memorial Hospital in Benton.

I am interested in the LAP-BAND® surgery and have Medicare insurance. Do you accept Medicare patients?

Yes, we do. Please contact our office for more information and to set up a consultation with Dr. Luttrell.

I have Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield Insurance. How long do I have to be on a structured diet before I can get on with the process to get surgery?

Most Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield Insurance plans require a 3-month structured diet program prior to surgery. Federal Blue Cross plans require a 6-month program. If you would like for us to check your benefits, we will be glad to call and find out what is required. We would need your ID #, date of birth and phone number to check your information.

I am considering having the LAP-BAND® procedure. I am more than 100 lbs overweight, but have no health problems, I have Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield Insurance. What are my chances at getting approved and what steps do I need to take to get started?

Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield Insurance as well as other insurance plans have certain criteria that must be met prior to approval. We would be glad to discuss your BMI and the requirements with you. The first step in getting the process started is to attend one of our weekly seminars and then attend a consultation so that we can gather all of your medical history to send off for insurance approval.

Will I get a small fill the day of my surgery?

The band is placed with no saline solution on the day of your surgery. Your first fill or adjustment will be 2-3 weeks after your surgery. Your stomach will be swollen after surgery so you will already feel restriction. It needs time to heal before we perform your first fill.

How can I obtain more information about this surgery?

If you are considering surgery as a choice for treating obesity, we strongly encourage you to become well-informed regarding the benefits and risks associated with this approach. You can contact us by email at info@luttrellsurgical.com, or call our office to arrange for attendance at one of our LAP-BAND® seminars or watch the online seminar and call the office for a consultation.

Why have I gained weight after my Gastric Bypass surgery?

Several studies suggest the majority of patients regain significant weight after Gastric Bypass surgery. A common cause includes gradual stretching of the stomach pouch or outlet. When the standard-of-care weight loss procedures are performed, the stomach and outlet are made very small to reduce the amount of food consumed and slow the passage of food through the digestive tract. Together, this helps patients feel fuller, longer after eating just a small amount. As a result, weigh loss occurs from a dramatic decrease in calories. Many clinicians have shown when the stomach pouch and/or outlet gradually stretch, it takes longer for the patient to feel full. As a result, patients may begin to regain weight.

What are the benefits of the endoscopic pouch repair procedure?

Scarring and adhesions from the initial weight loss surgery procedure often make open or laparoscopic revision surgery very challenging, and at times impossible. Abdominal revision surgery takes longer than the original weight loss surgery and patients are three times more likely to develop complications.

Having a revision through endoscopic procedure decreases the patient’s risks when compared to abdominal revision surgery. Patients experience less pain, recover faster, and have no abdominal scarring. Typically, patients go home the same day, but each patient’s discharge will vary based on Dr. Luttrell’s recommendation.

What are the side effects of the endoscopic pouch repair procedure?

It is anticipated that patients will feel little or no discomfort from the endoscopic procedure. Minor side effects may include gas pain, nausea, sore throat, swollen tongue, and lip pain from the insertion of the endoscope into the mouth.

What is the recovery process following the endoscopic pouch repair procedure?

Patients typically return to their normal routine within 48 hours. Following endoscopic outlet and pouch repair, patients should follow the same diet and exercise regimen they did after their initial weight loss surgery.

Is the endoscopic outlet and pouch repair procedure covered by insurance?

It depends upon the patient’s insurance plan. If not, cash pay options are available. For further information, please contact our office or speak to Dr. Luttrell at your next appointment.

Post Surgery Questions

Must I come back to Little Rock for my post-surgery check-ups?

Yes. You will need periodic band adjustments to get the maximal amount of weight loss.

Does Dr. Luttrell do tummy tucks after weight loss?

We typically refer our patients to cosmetic surgeons for those types of procedures. However he would be glad to do an evaluation for you and tell you what you should do or if there is something that he can do.

What can I eat after surgery?

Please see our post-surgery diet section for a list of recommended foods.

How long should I feel discomfort after having a fill/adjustment?

Typically, it takes about a week for all the discomfort to leave and for your body to adjust. You have to go back to liquids, and basically start all over again with foods as if you just had surgery. You are the best judge of how you will feel. Sometimes there is bruising at the port site, but this typically disappears within a week. If you recently had a fill and are still having pain or discomfort, please contact our office.

Why is it so hard to take medication now? What can help me take my medication without the feeling that it will come back up?

Because your stomach pouch is smaller, taking pills is not as easy as it used to be. If you are taking capsules, you can open them up and mix them with water or juice. If they are tablets, try cutting them in half. Also, you can ask your pharmacist if the medications you are taking come in a liquid form. Be sure to take your pills one at a time, and space them out if you take more than one.

I work outside and need to drink enough water when it’s hot to stay hydrated. Will the LAP-BAND® allow me to drink enough water when working in the heat?

You will be able to drink water, but you will need to sip and not gulp. Some LAP-BAND®-ers have trouble with really cold water, so they drink water at room-temperature. Another favorite drink is the sugar-free Kool-Aid packets that you can add to water. So, drink up and stay hydrated!