Getting Ready for Bariatric Surgery
(608) 890-7218 (fax)
The UW Health Medical and Surgical Weight Management Program offers our patients the means to lose weight safely, restore health and improve quality of life. We believe the most important aspect of weight loss is improved health after surgery or medical therapy.
The true measure of our program's success is the improvement or elimination of many weight-related health conditions. Our program staff partners with you and provides you the resources needed to continue on your path to a healthier life. You are on your way to rediscovering health—let's get started!
The following is information regarding the typical patient pathway and preparation for bariatric surgery. Please note that your individual path may vary to meet your individual medical and weight loss needs, as determined by you, your surgeon, and our multidisciplinary team. Please note that insurance coverage for bariatric surgery varies widely, each employer may purchase a different plan, and the information below may not apply to your individual plan. Please call your insurer or employer's benefits department before starting the program for the most current and accurate information regarding coverage and requirements of your plan. If your insurance or employer changes at any time, please let us know as soon as possible as this can impact your coverage.
Gather Information/Before You Begin
- Research your insurance policy. Not all insurance plans offer coverage for weight loss surgery and the pre- and post-operative clinic visits. Many also have requirements for BMI, age, weight-related conditions and completion of a supervised diet or weight loss attempts. Be certain you understand what your financial responsibilities are and whether a prior authorization is required. (Note: We will submit the prior authorization request for you.)
- Research and understand your estimated costs for protein, vitamins and nutritional supplements that may be required for the rest of your life.
- Visit our website at uwhealth.org/weightloss to view our video, learn about the procedures offered and find useful tools and resources, including a list of recommended resources and 10 Things You Can Do Today to Begin Preparing for Weight Loss Surgery.
- If you smoke, quit smoking and discontinue use of all tobacco and nicotine products. Smoking has been proven to dramatically increase the risk of complications during and after surgery. We require our patients to be tobacco-free as well as off all nicotine products for a minimum of three months prior to beginning pre-surgery education. We check for the use of tobacco and nicotine products as part of our routine periodic lab tests for all patients.
- Complete the Medical and Surgical Weight Management Program Questionnaire. Complete and sign the Release of Medical Information and Phone Messages forms. Make a copy of both the front and back of your insurance card and return these documents by way of one of the following:
- Mail to: UW Health Medical and Surgical Weight Management Program, 5249 E. Terrace Dr. Madison, WI 53718
- Fax to: (608) 890-7218
- Request a letter of support for bariatric surgery from your primary care provider. This may include an overview of your medical and significant surgical history, severe life-limiting weight-related conditions and weight loss attempts.
- Learn everything you can about bariatric surgery. Read books, view websites, attend support groups and talk with others who have had surgery to become informed about the procedures offered, risks and lifestyle changes. Visit our website for a list of recommended resources and additional information.
After your Medical and Surgical Weight Management Program Questionnaire, Release of Information, Phone Messages and copy of the front and back of your insurance card are received, a member of our team will contact you to schedule assessment appointments. You will meet individually with your surgeon, physician assistant, dietitian and health psychologist, and complete a series of computer-based health psychology evaluations.
Our team meets frequently to review patients who have completed assessments. You will be contacted following this review to discuss the care plan best suited to your needs.
Education and Tests
- If our team determines that you are eligible to continue preparing for surgery, we will schedule you for our educational class series. Class attendance and completion of homework assignments are required. Also, please note that you may be required to follow up individually with members of our team or repeat some class portions.
- Decide which surgery is right for you. As you prepare, our team will work with you to educate you on the options available to you and which procedure may best meet your particular needs.
- Patients will be required to complete all pre-surgery labs and studies ordered that may include (but are not limited to):
- Labs (Blood draw: CBC, CMP, Vitamins B-1, B-12, D, Iron, Ferritin)
- Cardiac stress test
- Sleep study (to test for sleep apnea)
- Upper endoscopy (to look at the stomach anatomy)
- ECG (electrocardiogram)
- Chest x-ray
- Additional tests and studies your surgeon has ordered
When complete, our team will review your class homework assignment responses, assess your progress in class and make sure all tests and studies your surgeon has ordered have been done and the results viewed. We will then determine if you require any additional pre-surgery preparation and address any concerns you may have. It is possible that additional visits, tests or follow-up appointments with one or more members of our team may be required prior to proceeding with surgery.
When we are certain that you are adequately prepared for bariatric surgery and committed to maintaining the necessary lifestyle, we will submit a prior authorization form if required by your insurer. This form is a formal request for coverage and payment of your bariatric surgery. Please note that your insurer may take up to 30 days to respond to this request.
Once your insurer approves coverage of your bariatric surgery, we will contact you to assist with scheduling any pre-surgery labs, clinic appointments and surgery date.
Pre-surgery appointments include:
- Readiness visit with our program dietitian
- Readiness visit with our physician assistant
- History and physical visit with your surgeon
- Surgery preparation visit with our Learning Center nurse
- Walk-in consultation with the anesthesiology staff at UW Hospital and Clinics
Surgery and Hospital Stay
Your surgery will take place at UW Hospital and Clinics. Our team will discuss immediate pre- and post-surgery preparation and other information regarding your hospital stay with you at your pre-surgery appointments.
Healthy Living: Ongoing Care and Follow-Up
Before you are discharged from the hospital following your surgery, our team will schedule your first post-surgery follow-up visits. It is very important that you commit to visits with our team at two weeks post-surgery, six weeks post-surgery, three months post-surgery, six months post-surgery, 12 months post-surgery, and annually following your first year post-surgery.
Additional visits are scheduled as needed for post-surgery concerns, complications or follow-up.
Stay connected! Attend our free monthly patient support group. Continue to learn, read books, view websites and talk with others who have had weight loss surgery for information, support and sharing of experiences.