UAB Medicine

Bariatric Surgery Treatment

Obesity is a medical problem that can have wide-ranging mental and physical effects on a person. If you or a loved one has struggled with obesity for some time—trying unsuccessfully to combine a healthy diet with exercise to lose weight—and are curious about surgical weight-loss and how to get help, UAB Surgery can help you find answers.

Bariatric surgery, also known as weight loss surgery, is performed by the UAB Section of Gastrointestinal Surgery.

Led by Drs. Richard Stahl and Jayleen Grams, the bariatric surgery program at UAB has been performing weight loss surgery for more than 30 years. This history, combined with UAB’s standing as an academic medical center, puts UAB at the forefront of weight loss surgery.

Why Weight Loss Surgery?

Weight loss, or bariatric surgery is indicated for patients who are morbidly obese and have failed diets, exercise, and other non-surgical means of obesity treatment. Simply stated, it helps patients eat less through a variety of mechanisms which differ with the type of procedure done.

Surgery is not the first line method of achieving weight loss. UAB uses a multidisciplinary approach in the evaluation and management of obesity. This team includes surgeons, clinical specialists, nutritionists, psychologists, and physical therapists, in addition to the patient’s primary care physician. Candidates for surgery, must meet certain goals and requirements before surgery can be approved. The time from first appointment to surgery can vary from a few months up to a year. A patient’s full commitment to lifestyle change is mandatory. After surgery patients are expected to follow up with their surgeon on a continuing basis.

Am I a Candidate?

Although insurance companies differ, generally a person is a candidate for weight loss surgery if he or she has a BMI (Body Mass Index) of at least 40. Patients with a BMI of at least 35 may qualify if they have additional conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, or degenerative joint disease.

Review more information about eligibility »  

  Find your Body Mass Index (BMI) »  

Types of Surgery

There are three types of weight loss surgery performed at UAB: Gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, and adjustable gastric banding.

Gastric Bypass
A gastric bypass is performed by creating a small pouch out of the stomach and routing the gastrointestinal tract to this pouch, so that food empties into the pouch bypassing the remainder of the stomach and first portion of the intestine.   Learn more about gastric bypass »  

Sleeve Gastrectomy
A sleeve gastrectomy is performed by removing about 80% of the stomach, leaving an area approximately the size of a banana. This leads to a diminished appetite.   Learn more about sleeve gastrectomy »  

Adjustable Gastric Banding
Gastric banding places an inflatable belt around the top of the stomach to reduce the flow of food into the stomach.   Learn more about adjustable gastric banding »  

How to Get Help

The steps to weight loss surgery vary from patient to patient and depend on a number of factors including current health of the patient, previous attempts at weight loss, and insurance requirements.

We have developed a complete guide to how you can start the process of weight loss surgery at UAB. Please review all the information on the page, download and complete the required forms and return them to us. We look forward to helping you achieve your weight loss goals. 

  Request more information about bariatric surgery at UAB »