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A complex issue
Obesity is a complicated, progressive disease caused by a wide variety of factors. It is the No. 1 public health crisis in the United States. Millions of Americans are currently obese or overweight, and the number is projected to grow.
The disease is associated with numerous health conditions, including diabetes, sleep apnea, heart disease, liver disease and joint problems, and is life-threatening. Our Medical and Surgical Weight Management Program is here to help with surgical and nonsurgical options.
Successfully achieving and maintaining weight loss requires preparation, commitment and dedication to lifelong diet and behavior changes. Whether you are on the medical or surgical path, you will have a full team of experts behind you. Our team of surgeons and obesity medicine doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners, psychologists, nutritionists and support staff is here to guide you through every step of the process. They will develop a long-term plan for a healthier weight and a happier you.
We’ll find the right treatment to help you succeed
When you’re thinking about losing weight, there are many options to help you achieve your goals. Our program is comprehensive, so we offer medical options (medications, lifestyle changes, and other strategies) in addition to non-invasive procedures and surgery options.
If you are unsure where to start, or what kind of help you are looking for, our online onboarding program can help you decide what is right for you.
Medical weight loss
Building new habits is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle long-term. Losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can help with a variety of health conditions as well as improve your quality of life. This can be done by focusing on small but important changes in your nutrition and activity.
Our Medical Weight Management team will help you develop a plan using a combination of tactics that may include:
Carbohydrate restriction to promote a low-calorie lifestyle
Promoting proteins and healthy fats
We work with any food allergies, intolerances, or special diets you may follow, including gluten-free, FODMAPS, vegetarian or vegan.
Lifestyle Change programming supports a Health At Every Size approach that helps patients maintain a healthier lifestyle in terms of nutrition, activity, sleep, and well-being.
Lead by: UW Lifestyle Change Coach and/or registered dietitian.
Material: Prevent T2 (CDC program to prevent Type 2 diabetes)
Commitment: 1 year (weekly x 16 weeks, biweekly x 12 weeks, monthly x 4 months)
The research study on this program showed that it helped patients lose 5-7% of their body weight.
These physicians offer individual patient appointments focusing on medical weight loss. Your physician will generally recommend additional appointments with a nutritionist and/or health psychologist or joining a lifestyle change program. Read about each provider and their general practice strategies to make sure they fit with your expectations for a specific treatment plan.
R. Compton Kurtz II, MD
Strategies: Therapeutic carb restriction, medicines for weight loss, intermittent fasting
Philip Zimmermann, MD
Strategies: Intermittent fasting, co-management of diabetes/endocrine problems
Non-invasive procedures and surgery options
Many have found diets or medications unsuccessful, regaining most, if not all the weight lost. Many people are choosing a surgical solution to weight loss to achieve improved health and quality of life. Bariatric surgery is known to be the most effective and longest-lasting treatment for severe obesity and many related conditions and can help patients for life.
We currently offer three different procedures for weight loss: Roux-en-Y (gastric bypass) surgery, sleeve gastrectomy and endoscopy sleeve gastroplasty. We also offer revisional surgery. Learn more about each procedure below. All our surgical procedures are done using minimally invasive laparoscopic and endoscopic techniques. These techniques use advanced technology for safer, less painful surgery.
Learn more about our surgical program with these introductory videos from our team
During this procedure, the upper portion of your stomach is isolated as a small, 1- to 2-ounce “pouch.” A segment of your small intestine is then attached to this pouch. Food bypasses most of the stomach and the first part of the small intestine. The procedure helps you lose weight through caloric restriction, as the small pouch can only hold two to four tablespoons at a time and changes the absorption of nutrients.
In this procedure, a large portion of the stomach is removed, leaving a narrow, tube-shaped pouch with a capacity of approximately three to four ounces. The intestines are not bypassed. The sleeve is primarily a restrictive procedure, allowing you to lose weight by limiting the intake of food and calories, in addition to a change in the ability to absorb some nutrients.
In this newer procedure, a gastroenterologist runs a suturing device down your throat and into your stomach and places sutures to make it smaller. The procedure recreates a surgical sleeve gastrectomy without the need for surgery.
Our bariatric surgeons offer consultations to patients who have had weight loss surgery in the past and may require a revision or repair due to unresolved co-morbidities or medical complications. Please call the clinic at (608) 265-7090 to learn more and to schedule a revisional surgery consultation.
Meet our team
Leading providers guide your care
The surgeons and doctors who head our program are leaders in the field. They’re up to date on the latest surgical techniques and tuned to your needs.
Others who may support you in this major life change include:
Nurse practitioners/physician assistants
Patient scheduling coordinators
Patient support and services
Tools to get you ready and help you thrive
There’s a lot you can do to increase your odds of success before, during and after treatment. We offer several resources to help.
Education and the support of others who know what you’re going through can be a source of inspiration, motivation and hope. Our free monthly support group provides all of this. The group is for people who have had weight loss surgery or nonsurgical therapy and those who are considering these treatments.
We begin with a 30-minute interactive presentation on weight management topics. The remaining 60 minutes are dedicated to interacting with and gaining support from patients and professionals who are involved or interested in our surgical weight management program.
Meeting time: 5 p.m. (unless noted below)
2023 dates and topics
Date: Oct. 9, 2023
Topic: Health psychology open forum
Presenters: Lisa Nackers, PhD, and Whitaker Myers, PhD
Location: East Madison Hospital, Conference Room 1660
Date: Dec. 11, 2023
Topic: Holiday cooking demonstration
Presenter: Wendy Hahn, RDN
Location: East Madison Hospital Learning Kitchen, Room 1900
Bariatric cooking classes
All classes are free and open to current patients only and hosted by Wendy Hahn, RDN in the Learning Kitchen, Room 1900 at East Madison Hospital
Date: Oct. 11, 2023
Topic: Post-op purees
Time: 3–4:30 p.m.
Date: Nov. 14, 2023
Topic: Post-op soft foods
Time: 3–4:30 p.m.
Frequently asked questions
The following information is intended to help answer common questions about our medical weight loss program and the surgical and non-invasive procedures we offer.
Medical weight loss informational videos
Medical weight loss FAQ
This is a 12-month program where we focus on lifestyle and nutrition changes. Weight-loss medications may be prescribed (see below.)
We focus on a low carbohydrate, low sugar approach to weight management.
We focus not just on weight loss, but non-scale victories as well, looking at improvements in overall health.
We look at many influences on weight: sleep, stress, emotional or mindless eating and physical activity, and will help connect you to other resources or referrals you may need in addition to our program.
You will have approximately 9 visits with our providers over the course of 12 months.
You will be meeting with doctors, dietitians, and Physician’s assistants.
We offer both video visits as well as some in-person, in-clinic appointments.
Call your insurance company to ask about coverage, as each company determines what they cover.
Weight-loss medications are optional and may not be appropriate for everyone.
There are several weight-loss medications that are available. If you are interested in them, we will review your medical history to see if/which medication is appropriate.
Weight-loss medications are only a small part of our program, and members must complete all required appointments (with doctors, dietitians, physician’s assistant, etc.) to continue with their prescriptions.
Insurance coverage of medications can require a “prior authorization,” which can take up to three weeks.
If you have been away from our program for more than a year, we require that you restart, which may include completing paperwork, introductory classes, etc.
If you would like a refill on a past prescription, you will need to restart visits with the providers, including a dietitian.
If you have missed a few months, our staff will work with you to get your appointments back on schedule.
Surgery and non-invasive procedures FAQ
Please note that coverage 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 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.
We recommend that you call the customer service number on the back of your insurance card and ask if bariatric surgery is a covered benefit, and if there are any specific requirements for the surgery to be covered.
It is important to understand your financial responsibilities before you begin this journey, so ask lots of questions!
Have significant health issues that would improve with weight loss?
Have a BMI of 35 or more with weight-related comorbidities?
Have a BMI of 40 or more without weight-related comorbidities?
Note that individual insurance plans may have specific requirements for bariatric surgery coverage not included above.
If you are an adult 18 years or older and answered YES to any of the above questions AND are a non-smoker (you must be tobacco- and nicotine-free for at least three months prior to pre-surgery education) then you are likely a good fit for bariatric weight loss surgery.
If you do not meet the requirements of bariatric weight loss surgery, we also offer non-surgical (metabolic) weight management options.
The program pathway is a minimum of five consecutive monthly visits (all required), which include group and individual appointments.
Our surgeons offer the sleeve gastrectomy and the Roux-en-Y bypass procedures as well as endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty.
Yes, our surgeons also perform revisional surgery if medically indicated for people who have had previous weight loss surgery.
Our program is designed for adults 18 year and older. For information about pediatric weight loss, please contact UW Health’s Pediatric Fitness Clinic.
Patients share their success stories
Everyone has their own weight loss story. But learning what others have experienced may help you better know what to expect for yourself.