Bariatric Surgery - What To Expect
Steps to Take to Start Your Life-Changing Weight Loss Journey
Whether you are just beginning to consider weight loss surgery or you are already in the process of researching which procedure may be right for you, it is normal to feel some apprehension about starting the process. At Alabama Surgical Associates, we are committed to personalized care. When patients come to us ready to change their lives, we honor their trust by answering all questions, guiding them every step of the way, and giving them the resources they need to succeed. Each patient will have unique needs and goals and the timeline to bariatric surgery can vary based on a number of factors, such as health insurance or medical conditions, but here is a general outline of the steps for a bariatric surgery patient:
Step 1 Free Insurance Check
Fill out our free insurance check so our team can check your health insurance plan to determine your coverage for weight loss procedures. Self-pay patients can get information on financing options and special pricing.
Step 2 Your Consultation Appointment
Our team of bariatric experts will evaluate your health, discuss your goals, and answer your questions during a one-on-one appointment. Your consultation will include an individualized medical workup to assess any possible risks and ensure that your treatment plan is as safe as possible. Additional tests or labs may be required.
Step 3 Pre-Surgical Weight Loss Program
Some insurance plans require a physician supervised weight loss program prior to surgery. We don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to weight loss. Your individual diet recommendations will be determined by your surgeon and our registered dietitians.
Step 4 Pre-Surgical Appointment
Some self-pay patients may not require this step, but most patients will have an office appointment within 1 month of surgery. This appointment allows us to update your history and ensure that you are optimized for surgery.
Step 5 Liver Shrinking Diet
Some patients will need to follow a special diet prior to surgery called a liver shrinking diet. This low-sugar diet is designed to reduce the size of your liver, which can make surgery safer.
Step 6 Surgery Day
Bariatric surgery typically takes 30 to 90 minutes, depending on which procedure is being performed. We’ll make sure that you are ready for surgery day and have all the information you need to feel empowered in your choice.
Step 7 Recovery and Beyond
How much time you’ll need off of work will depend on which procedure you have and what type of job you have. Our team will give you detailed recovery guidelines for your customized treatment plan, but most patients are able to return to work within 1 to 2 weeks. You can typically expect to schedule follow-up visits 2 weeks, 6 months and 1 year after surgery, as well as dietitian appointments.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Bariatric Surgery Process
Is the initial consultation appointment free?
No, but whenever possible we will bill your health insurance for the consultation appointment. Our free insurance check can help you determine your coverage for bariatric appointments.
If my insurance does not cover bariatric services, what are my payment options?
If you do not have insurance coverage, you may still be able to fit weight loss into your budget through our partnership with Prosper healthcare lending. Plus, your timeline as a self-pay patient may be shorter with fewer pre-surgical requirements. Learn more about payment options.
Do you have a program fee?
No, unlike some weight loss clinics, we do not charge a program fee. However, you may be responsible for insurance co-pays or charges for additional testing if necessary.
How long does it take from my first appointment until surgery?
We understand that once you make the decision to have surgery, you may want to get the process going as soon as possible! We will do everything we can to make the process efficient, but the timeline can vary depending on your medical needs and your insurance. Self-pay patients in overall good health may be able to have surgery just a few days after their initial appointment. Patients using health insurance to pay for surgery may have waiting periods of up to 6 months or other prerequisites required by their insurance company.
Will I have to go on a diet or lose weight before surgery?
We do not have a set requirement for a pre-surgical diet. Your health insurance plan may require medically supervised weight loss before surgery.
What medical tests will I need before bariatric surgery?
This will also depend on your health and your insurance plan. Some common pre-surgical requirements or recommendations may include an endoscopy, colonoscopy, or cardiology exam. Your surgeon will discuss your individual treatment plan at your consultation appointment.
Can I have surgery at Alabama Surgical Associates if I don’t live near Huntsville?
Yes, we have had patients travel from out of town and out of state in order to take advantage of our surgical expertise and our fair pricing on weight loss procedures. Learn more about traveling to Huntsville for bariatric surgery.
What can I do to prevent weight gain after surgery?
Bariatric surgery is a tool for weight loss, but patients must be ready to commit to healthier lifestyle habits in order to have long-term success. Learn more about life after weight loss surgery.