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Bariatric surgery helps many people with obesity finally reach their weight loss goals and live healthier, happier and longer lives. Bariatric surgery, also known as weight-loss surgery or metabolic surgery, is a life-changing experience with advantages that extend far beyond a lower number on the scale. If you're considering surgery to lose weight and improve your health, read on. Gundersen Health System’s got you covered with answers to your questions and more!

What is the best bariatric surgery?

While there are several different types of bariatric surgery today, the safest and most effective procedures to achieve significant and sustainable weight loss are the Roux en Y gastric bypass surgery and the vertical sleeve gastrectomy (also known as the gastric sleeve or VSG surgery). Both procedures alter the stomach and digestive system, but in different ways—so the best choice for one person may be different for another. The bariatric surgeons at Gundersen partner with patients to understand their needs, health situation and to identify the best weight-loss surgery option to reach their individual goals. 

What are the benefits of bariatric surgery?

Losing weight is not the only perk of having bariatric surgery. Overall quality of life, self-confidence and energy levels can skyrocket—while many obesity-related health conditions can be avoided, improved or completely resolved! Here’s more on the advantages of bariatric surgery: 

  • Bariatric surgery is the most effective tool for weight loss for many people.

Some people believe that all it takes to lose weight is determination mixed with a healthy diet and plenty of exercise. Research shows it's not always that straightforward. Just 2 percent of bariatric patients who rely on diet and exercise alone are able to lose weight and keep it off, compared with up to 80 percent of people who undergo bariatric surgery. The amount of weight loss is also significant: Gundersen patients lose about 72 percent of excess weight by the end of the first year after surgery.

  • Bariatric surgery is safe and minimally invasive.

Weight loss surgery at Gundersen Health System is minimally invasive. This means that small incisions are made to complete the procedure—unlike when you undergo open surgery. Minimally invasive surgery typically results in fewer complications, less pain and a quicker recovery. Most people leave the hospital just one night after their procedure and require very little pain medication afterward.

  • You can still enjoy food after surgery.

If you have fears around never being able to enjoy tasty meals again after surgery, rest assured that delicious food can still be in your future. After an initial three-week recovery period that includes a full liquid diet, you will begin to introduce regular foods back into your daily routine, with the help of a registered dietitian and the rest of your care team. You'll eat less than you used to—and likely focus on getting more protein and nutrient dense foods—but it's still common to eat three meals and a few snacks every day.

  • Surgery is the only cure for diabetes.

While most people tout weight loss as the main benefit of bariatric surgery, the procedures can significantly improve health in other ways, too. In fact, bariatric surgery is the only known cure for diabetes. How does it work? Thanks to hormone changes after surgery, the body is better able to use glucose—so much so that people often see drastic improvements in their diabetes even before they notice any weight loss. And 84 percent of Gundersen patients are on medications for diabetes before their bariatric surgery compared to only 22 percent one year after surgery.

  • Bariatric surgery can improve or resolve many other health conditions. 

It's common for patients with hypertension to see their high blood pressure lower almost immediately following surgery. Within days, some people can stop taking their blood pressure medication altogether! Bariatric surgery can also dramatically improve high cholesterol, heart disease, migraines, asthma, joint pain, sleep apnea, heart burn and many other diseases.


Do I qualify for bariatric surgery?

Bariatric surgery can be an effective tool for individuals with obesity when other non-invasive weight loss methods have failed to deliver results. However, surgery is not for everyone. Candidates for surgery have a body mass index (BMI) that is greater than 35—or a BMI above 30 with other related medical problems. There are other age, lifestyle and behavioral requirements that will be evaluated by a healthcare team to determine if weight-loss surgery is the right fit. 

How much does bariatric surgery cost? 

When medically necessary, typically bariatric surgery is covered by insurance—including some Medicaid plans. Out-of-pocket costs will vary by insurance provider. If insurance doesn’t cover weight-loss surgery, cash-pay options are offered based on medical history and the procedure chosen. Gundersen’s bariatric team will help explore insurance and financing options with patients.

How do I prepare for bariatric surgery?

The preparation process for bariatric surgery includes education, evaluations, pre- and post-operative activities, and a life-long commitment to a lifestyle that will maintain weight loss and long-term health. The pre-operative journey usually takes 4-6 months after you first meet with a bariatric surgeon. A care team that includes a surgeon, primary care provider, registered dietician, psychologist, nurse and other specialists guides the preparation process and provides comprehensive post-operative care and support.

If you’re considering bariatric surgery and want to learn more about Gundersen’s weight-loss surgery options and patient qualifications, a great place to start is to watch our free informational Weight-Loss Surgery Seminar online. You can also call 608-775-0055 to get a consultation appointment scheduled with our experienced weight-loss surgeons

Gundersen’s bariatric surgery and obesity medicine programs are fully accredited by the MBSAQIP.

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