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Weight Loss Surgery

Weight Loss Surgery

Have you struggled with obesity for years, trying unsuccessfully to lose weight through diet and exercise? If so, it may be time to consider bariatric surgery for safe, effective, long-term weight loss.

Am I a candidate for surgery?

If you are interested in weight loss surgery, ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. What is my Body Mass Index (BMI)?  You are a candidate for surgery if you have a BMI of 35 and you have other health conditions, or you have a BMI of 40 without other health conditions. Calulate your BMI.
  2. Am I ready to commit to a change in my lifestyle today? Weight loss surgery is a tool to assist you with weight loss. Your success will depend on the long-term lifestyle modifications that you make, including eating habits and exercising.
  3.  Am I interested in talking with a full medical team about my weight loss options? Our program includes medical, nutritional, psychological, and surgical evaluations, as well as referrals to additional specialists, as needed.

If you believe you are a candidate and are invested in a life-changing step towards improving your health, then start by registering your contact information and watching the free informational seminar. A member of our team will contact you and answer any initial questions you might have.

Start Your Weight Loss Journey Today!

Weight Loss Surgery

Have you struggled with obesity for years, trying unsuccessfully to lose weight through diet and exercise? If so, it may be time to consider bariatric surgery for safe, effective, long-term weight loss.

Am I a candidate for surgery?

If you are interested in weight loss surgery, ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. What is my Body Mass Index (BMI)?  You are a candidate for surgery if you have a BMI of 35 and you have other health conditions, or you have a BMI of 40 without other health conditions. Calulate your BMI.
  2. Am I ready to commit to a change in my lifestyle today? Weight loss surgery is a tool to assist you with weight loss. Your success will depend on the long-term lifestyle modifications that you make, including eating habits and exercising.
  3.  Am I interested in talking with a full medical team about my weight loss options? Our program includes medical, nutritional, psychological, and surgical evaluations, as well as referrals to additional specialists, as needed.

If you believe you are a candidate and are invested in a life-changing step towards improving your health, then start by registering your contact information and watching the free informational seminar. A member of our team will contact you and answer any initial questions you might have.

Start Your Weight Loss Journey Today!

Care Team

When you come to us, our entire bariatric team works together to help you successfully lose weight and keep it off. We provide:

Care coordinators

It all starts with our care coordiantors.  They are with you throughout the entire process to answer questions and help you navigate through your personal weight loss journey.

Bariatric surgeons

Our fellowship trained surgeons have all the training a general surgeon has, but with an additional year to specialize in bariatric and minimally invasive surgery.   Our surgeons plan all surgeries as laparoscopic or robotic, meaning the patient will have very small scars after the procedure compared to the larger scars they could have if they had an open procedure. This high level of training is not always the case with other area bariatric surgery centers.

Dietitians

Registered dietitians are an important part of getting you to surgery successfully, safely, and armed with all the knowledge you need to lose weight. Bariatric surgery is a tool that helps with weight loss, but without proper post-operative diet and exercise habits, patients can slide back into the same habits that caused them to have obesity in the first place.

Our registered dietitians educate and prepare you for what to expect after surgery, and they work with you to set up healthy habits prior to surgery, so that you are ready to take full advantage of weight loss surgery. It’s not realistic to expect someone to change major habits overnight, so working out some of the hard-to-break habits prior to surgery is key.

Post-operatively, our dietitians continue to educate you as you recover and start eating normal foods again, providing encouragement and counseling as you continue to lose weight and maintain your weight loss years after surgery.

Specialists

Patients with comorbidities or other health issues might need to consult and be in the care of a specialist before, during, and after their surgery.  We can easily refer you to any specialist you might need, so that you can safely continue on with your weight loss surgery.

We perform the following surgeries:

  • Gastric bypass
  • Sleeve gastrectomy
  • Other revisional bariatric surgeries

What is gastric bypass?

Weight loss from this operation is caused by both restriction (small pouch) and malabsorption (bypassed intestine).

The gastric bypass only takes 2 hours and patients usually spend 1 night in the hospital and go home the next day. Patients typically recover at home for 2 weeks before they are able to return to work or their normal schedule, but some patients may recover more quickly.

What is a sleeve gastrectomy?

The sleeve gastrectomy involves removal of a large portion of the stomach (70-85%), creating a tube-like stomach about the size of a banana. There is no bypass of the intestine or placement of any foreign body. This operation also removes the portion of the stomach that secretes ghrelin, a hormone that increases appetite.

The sleeve gastrectomy only takes 1 hour and patients usually spend 1 night in the hospital and go home the next day. Patients typically recover at home for 2 weeks before they are able to return to work or their normal schedule, but some patients may recover more quickly.

Below is a list of all forms, patient educational handouts, and other resources patients receive while in our Bariatric Program. 

Patient Support Group

Our program’s Facebook page is Augusta University Bariatric Surgery Support Group. It is a private group that can be joined once you have attended your first bariatric appointment with Augusta University.

Contact Information

First Steps

New Patient Folder (Blue)

Nutrition and Exercise Information

Pre-operative Information

Post-operative Folder (Green) – given in hospital

The following are answers to some common questions we have been asked about surgical weight loss.

Obesity is a major health risk that can lead to serious medical problems such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney failure, liver disease, lung disease, mental disease, cancers, and many other complications. Losing weight through diet and exercise, and keeping the weight off is very difficult for most obese patients. Weight loss surgery has been proven to be safe and result in long-term weight loss, improvement in medical conditions and overall quality of life.

We are part of the Medical Center at Augusta University, one of Georgia’s largest academic medical centers, we offer a comprehensive weight management program with all the resources to ensure you are successful with your weight loss goals. Care is delivered by a dedicated team of highly skilled physicians, surgeons, nutritionists, nurses and other caregivers who understand obesity and weight loss surgery. Together, we deliver coordinated care that addresses every aspect of obesity and its related health conditions. We provide total care to the obese patient. We provide resources to encourage long-term follow-up and success. There are many stigmas associated with obesity. As a result we provide weight loss service in a caring and supportive environment, including requiring weight sensitivity training for our team members. 

At the Augusta University Obesity & Metabolism, patients must undergo evaluation and approval by our expert team members (surgeons, bariatrician, psychologist, nutritionist, anesthesiologist and others), and meet insurance plan requirements.

For Gastric Bypass and Sleeve Gastrectomy Surgery most insurance plans require:

  • A Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or more
  • A BMI of 35-39 with obesity related conditions such as sleep apnea, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, liver disease)

Our team will work with you to determine which surgical procedure is best for you. Options include:

  • Laparoscopic Gastric Bypass
  • Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy
  • Revisional Bariatric Surgery

That varies considerably, depending on your weight before surgery and how well you adhere to your follow up plan, but losses of 100 pounds and more are not uncommon. If you lose 50% of your excess body weight and keep it off, your surgery is considered successful.

Bariatric surgery may be performed through traditional “open” abdominal incisions, or laparoscopically through small incisions. With the laparoscopic approach, a camera is used to see inside of the abdomen, transmitting an image to a television monitor. The surgeon uses surgical instruments inserted through 1/2-inch incisions (cuts) to perform the operation. Most bariatric operations are performed laparoscopically because it is better for the patient. It creates less tissue damage, shortens hospital stays and reduces complications when compared to open surgery.

However, laparoscopy is not right for all patients. Patients who are extremely obese, have had previous abdominal surgery, have complicating medical problems or have a complication during laparoscopic surgery may require the open approach.

There are no specific exclusions. It depends on the individual patient, previous surgeries, current medical conditions and other factors.

Depending on the procedure, patients generally stay in the hospital one to three days and return to work within two to four weeks.

Many of the risks and complications are due to the patient’s obesity-related health problems. They may include heart attack and pulmonary embolism (lung clot). These complications may occur regardless of which operation you have. To minimize these risks, we deliver medical weight loss services to help our patients quit smoking, lose weight and start an exercise program prior to surgery.

We also provide our patients with detailed instructions when they leave the hospital, and we carefully monitor their recovery. Finally, as an academic medical center, we have specialists of all types who can address any possible complications, including emergency room physicians who understand the complications of weight loss surgery.

Other risks and complications may occur and are more dependent on the operation you have.

Ideal body weight is the weight that is ideal for your height and gender (male or female). The body mass index (BMI) is a used as an indicator of your ideal body weight. A normal body mass index is about 19-25.

Excess weight loss is the amount of weight above your ideal body weight that you lose.

Patients can generally resume sexual activity two to four weeks after weight loss surgery. That decision is left to the patient and his or her partner.

Infertility is a common problem in obese women due to hormonal imbalances and polycystic ovarian disease. Sexual desire will likely increase after surgery. Infertility may also improve after surgery, so precautions to prevent early pregnancy should be used. It takes a while for your hormones to rebalance after surgery so pregnancy may not readily happen. Your weight loss and nutritional status should also be stable before you attempt to get pregnant. We recommend that women should wait 18-24 months after surgery to become pregnant. Please use contraception to prevent pregnancy during this period as early pregnancy can result in loss of your baby and other problems with your baby or your health.

You’ll generally want to wait until your weight loss has stabilized, which may take 12-24 months or longer, depending on your operation. We recommend body contouring surgery after you have achieved your weight loss goal and your weight has been stable for at least 4-6 months. Your bariatric team members and plastic surgeon will determine the best time for you to have body contouring surgery.

If you are considering weight loss surgery, contact your insurance company right away. Ask if your plan covers weight loss surgery and what the requirements are for approval. Ask what specific operations are covered, and what the requirements to qualify for each operation. It is also important to find out if you have a co-payment and if all of the necessary evaluation before surgery is covered as well.

Not necessarily. If you have gallstones that have caused you problems (pain, inflammation) then you should have your gallbladder removed before your bariatric surgery. If you have gallstones that have not caused you any problems or if you do not have stones when you are being evaluated for bariatric surgery, your gallbladder does not have to be taken out before you have your bariatric surgery. With weight loss there is an increased chance of forming gallstones. You will be required to take a medication to reduce the chance of gallstones forming.

Some patients will regain weight after bariatric surgery, regardless of the operation they have. Those who regain weight are generally patients who do not follow-up with their bariatric program, do not follow diet recommendations and do not exercise regularly. Remember that the operation can only do so much for weight loss. Keeping the weight off long-term has everything to do with the lifestyle changes you choose to make after bariatric surgery. Healthier eating habits and regular exercise are key to your long-term success.

Health Insurance Coverage

Some insurance companies will pay for weight loss surgery if you meet all program requirements.

Most insurance companies will require documentation that you have participated in a weight loss program, including nutrition and exercise progress tracking supervised by a physician for 3-6 months.

Even if your insurance company pays for your weight loss surgery and hospital expenses, it may not pay for all of the consultations and studies that are required before surgery. If this is the case, those expenses will be your responsibility.

Self-Pay Option

If your insurance plan does not cover weight loss surgery, the only option is for patients to pay for the operation themselves. If you have no insurance coverage for weight loss surgery, we recommend you start with one of our free informational seminars to learn more about weight loss surgery and your options.

Please review our current prices for weight loss surgery if you are interested in paying out-of-pocket.

Following the seminar, you will be scheduled for a consultation with our weight loss team. At the time of your consultation, you will complete any needed medical work-up (may be covered by health insurance).

Our self-pay option includes:

  • Pre-operative evaluation and testing
  • Cost of your surgery
  • Hospital stay
  • Surgeon and anesthesia fee
  • Complication coverage and follow-up for 90 days after surgery

Not included in self-pay

Our self-pay option does not include any additional testing the surgeon may determine you need, such as,

  • an endoscopy
  • gastrointestinal imaging
  • cardiology clearance
  • pulmonary clearance or sleep study

However, if you are able to complete these within 3 months before your initial evaluation, you may avoid having to pay for them during our program.

If your primary health insurance does not cover the cost of your weight loss surgery, they also will not cover the cost of any complications that occur after your surgery. Our self-pay option does not cover any additional hospitalization after the initial 90 days following surgery, but we can provide you the opportunity to choose and pay for additional complication coverage.  

Our Providers

Augusta University Medical Center specialists provide care and support throughout your entire healthcare journey.

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