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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.

Patient information packet

At the end of the seminar, you can schedule an initial consultation with the bariatric team. You will receive an information packet to complete and return or bring with you to your initial consultation.


Contact your insurance company to see if your policy covers weight-loss surgery at Gundersen, and if there are specific criteria for approval. For example, your insurance company may require a three- to five-year weight history and official documentation of your weight-loss attempts within the last two years such as:

  • Diet drugs and medically supervised diets prescribed
  • Commercial diet program (Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, etc.)
  • Exercise program (YMCA/YWCA, gym membership, etc.)

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'll meet with our bariatric nutritionist to discuss the importance of good nutrition before and after your surgery. Our program also requires you to attend three 60-minute group classes—Foundations, Sugars and Protein—led by a nutritionist.

You may attend the three classes in any order, but you must attend all classes within a three-month period, so the information remains fresh and you can move through the qualification process efficiently.

Class time/date options:

  • First Thursday of the month at 8:30 a.m.
  • Second Tuesday of the month at noon
  • Third Wednesday of the month at 3 p.m.
  • Fourth Tuesday of the month at 3 p.m.
  • Fourth Friday of the month at noon

Class topics:

  • June: Foundations
  • July: Sugars
  • August: Protein
  • September: Foundations
  • October: Sugars
  • November: Protein
  • December: Foundations

Call (608) 775-0055 to schedule your class time. 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 sign a list of program expectations. 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.

Once you have satisfied all of the 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 1-3 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