Bariatric Surgery FAQ

Considering bariatric surgery can raise many questions. At UAB Medicine, we want you to have all the answers you are looking for and feel completely confident in your weight loss surgery decision. If you have a question that is not addressed here, we invite you to ask us.

Pre- and post-op care questions: 

Christina Lundeen, RN – 205.975.3000 or clundeen@uabmc.edu

Eligibility & insurance:

Marci Howard – 205.996.5182 or mphoward@uabmc.edu

Scheduling:

Call 205-934-7053 and choose option 1 to notify the Access Center that you are interested in surgery.

Support group & general questions:

Brianna Ervin – 205.996.6984 or blcox@uabmc.edu

What is bariatric surgery?

Bariatric, or weight loss surgery, involves altering your digestive process in order to restrict food intake and alter calorie absorption. The goal of bariatric surgery is to induce weight loss and improve overall health.

Are there different types of bariatric surgery?

We offer two types of bariatric surgery at UAB. Click to learn more about gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy.

How do I know if I am a candidate for bariatric surgery?

There are several factors to consider in determining if bariatric surgery is right for you. If the following statements describe you, you may be a candidate:

You are at least 18 years old.

You either:
  • Weigh at least 100 pounds more than your ideal body weight
  • Have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of at least 40
  • Have a BMI of 35 to 40 with obesity-related medical conditions such as diabetes, severe obstructive sleep apnea, uncontrolled hypertension, or severe osteoarthritis
And
  • You have tried to lose weight with diet and exercise within the last year, but have been unsuccessful
  • You have been morbidly obese for at least three years
  • You are healthy and young enough to undergo a major operation
  • You understand the surgical risks, benefits, and limitations of surgery, and how your life may change after surgery
You do NOT have the following conditions:
  • Significant heart disease
  • Active peptic ulcer disease
  • Alcoholism
  • Hepatic cirrhosis with impaired liver function
  • Serious psychiatric disability
  • Very poor overall health
Insurance Coverage

Insurance companies differ in their coverage of weight loss surgery and the requirements you must meet. We recommend calling your insurance provider to determine your specific benefits. Some providers may require documentation from your primary care physician showing that:

  • You have been obese for three years or more
  • You have participated in a weight loss program under the supervision of your primary care physician for 3-7 consecutive months within the last year./li>

Is bariatric surgery covered by insurance?

Not all insurers provide coverage for weight loss surgery, so it is important that you contact your provider to find out. 

Private-Pay Fees

In the event that your insurance does not approve you to have the operation or does not pay for these procedures:

Initial Consultation: Approximately $461 (Cost incurred for pre-op assessment appointment prior to surgery not included)

Blood Work: $600-$1,200

Psychological Evaluation: Depends on each individual's insurance coverage. Patient must call insurance company to determine fees.

Nutritional Evaluation: $100

Sleeve Gastrectomy or Gastric Bypass Fees: $17,825

Payment Plans: We do not currently offer the option for payment plans. The full amount will need to be paid 2 weeks prior to surgery.

What are the risks of bariatric surgery?

Like any major surgery, there are risks associated with bariatric surgery. During your consultation, your surgeon will discuss your individual risk.

How much weight will I lose, and how long will it take to lose it?

Each patient will have a different experience depending on the surgery option they choose, and there is no guarantee of success. Patients who continually diet and exercise have the best results. With that in mind, Gastric bypass patients lose an average of 60–80% of their excess weight. Sleeve gastrectomy patients lose an average of 50–70% of their excess weight.

How long do I need to stay in the hospital for surgery?

The typical hospital stay is 1–2 nights.

How long will I need to be out of work?

Most patients are able to return to work within 2-3 weeks of surgery, but the amount of time required varies with the individual and the type of work they do.

How will my diet change after surgery?

You will be instructed on a diet progression after surgery. Initially, patients start on thin, clear liquids but progress to a regular but healthy and weight-conscious diet over 3 months. You can find more detailed information regarding your expected diet on the Meal Plan page.

I am interested in seeing if bariatric surgery is right for me. What should I do next?

Weight Loss Medicine Clinic information: Call 205-934-7053 and select option 1 for a new patient appointment. The Bariatric Clinic number is 205-975-3000, or click here to request an appointment.