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Getting Started

The decision to have weight-loss surgery can be difficult, so here is a brief summary of each step in the process.

Informational seminar

If you haven't watched the 12-minute online informational seminar Understanding Your Weight Management Options, that should be your priority if you're seriously considering weight-loss surgery. You'll get objective information to help you make an informed choice.

Payment options

We will contact your insurance company to see if your policy covers weight-loss surgery at Gundersen, and if there are specific criteria for approval. We encourage you to do the same. For example, your insurance company may require a weight history up to five years, specific blood tests, and official documentation of your weight-loss attempts within the last two years. 

If your insurance does not cover bariatric surgery, you may pay for the surgery yourself. The cost is around $20,000. Financial assistance options may also be available to you if you qualify.  

Initial evaluation

At this visit we will:

  • Review your medical and weight-loss history
  • Measure your height, weight and BMI
  • Give you a thorough overview of the procedures offered

If you qualify for surgery and elect to proceed, you'll meet with a surgeon to further discuss the procedure.

Nutrition education

You will meet with our bariatric nutritionist to discuss the importance of good nutrition before and after your surgery. Our program requires you to attend group classes and individual visits.

Please note, your insurance may require additional visits and educational criteria which you can discuss with your nutritionist. 

Psychological evaluation

Pre-operative evaluations with our clinical psychologist are required and there may be certain conditions you must satisfy before you are approved for surgery. The psychologist will tell you what these conditions are and what the desired action is. They will see you back for follow up near the end of your preparation.

Requirements for approval

All patients must complete basic program expectations (nutrition visits, psychological evaluation, medical workup, etc.). You may have additional requirements. For example, if you smoke, you'll need to stop and if you have health problems (e.g. heart condition, diabetes), you may need to consult with medical specialists. For your health and safety, these requirements must be met before you can schedule your surgery. 

You must also meet all insurance requirements. These may be the same as the program requirements or different.  

Once you have satisfied all program expectations and insurance requirements, your file will be submitted to your insurance company for review. If they determine that you have satisfied all requirements and meet all criteria, you will be 'approved' for surgery. If they determine that you have not satisfied all requirements or do not meet all criteria, you will be 'denied' and an explanation of why will be provided. If you are denied our team will work with you to appeal that denial. Once you are approved, your surgery will be scheduled. 

Scheduling your surgery

Your surgeon will provide you with a date for surgery. You may accept that date or request another. Once you accept a surgery date, your pre-operative appointments, surgery and post-operative follow up will be scheduled.

Pre-operative appointments

You will:

  • Meet with a dietitian to go over your post-surgical diet
  • Have your metabolic rate measured
  • Have a physical exam
  • Meet with someone about anesthesia
  • Have blood drawn
  • Go through pre-admitting to complete all pre-surgical paperwork
  • Meet with the nurse to go over your procedure and what to expect during your hospital stay


When the day finally arrives, you should be well prepared. Your hospital stay will be 1-2 days long. You'll start your day in the pre-operative area, meet with the surgeon one more time, go into surgery and end in recovery. Your family will meet with the surgeon after the surgery is complete for an update on your status. Your family will rejoin you when you get to your hospital room.

what to expect

We've taken steps at all our locations to keep you and our staff healthy and safe. Here's what to expect when you visit us.

Stay safe