A multifaceted issue

Obesity is a complicated, progressive disease caused by a wide variety of factors. The disease is associated with numerous health conditions, including diabetes, sleep apnea, heart disease, liver disease and joint problems, and is life-threatening. The Medical and Surgical Weight Management Program at UW Health is here to help with surgical and nonsurgical options.

We give you all the tools you need to lose weight safely and effectively. We design a treatment plan just for you and help you reach your weight loss goals and improve your health.

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We’ll find the right treatment to help you succeed

When you’re thinking about surgery, we ask you to watch a few short videos. We also ask you to provide some details about yourself and meet with members of our team.

You’ll have seven months of group and one-on-one meetings with a health psychologist before your surgery. We work with you on nutrition and exercise to help prepare your body for surgery and beyond.

Surgery options

The gastric bypass or Roux-en-Y surgery is the most common surgery in the U.S. This procedure may be done either through an open approach (large incision) or via the more common laparoscopic approach.

The Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery procedure

During the operation, surgical staples are used to create a small pouch at the top of the stomach. A segment of the small intestine is then attached to this pouch. Food bypasses most of the stomach and the first part of the small intestine.

Most patients typically have a one- to three-night hospital stay. 

Benefits of Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass

The Roux-en-Y gastric bypass operation helps you lose weight by:

  • Caloric restriction: The small pouch created can hold only two to four tablespoons at a time, thereby drastically reducing the amount of food that can be eaten.

  • Nutrient malabsorption: Food bypasses a large portion of the stomach and the first portion of the intestine.

Additional benefits of Roux-en-Y gastric bypass include:

  • Significant hormonal changes for hunger and glycemic control

  • Immediate and robust weight loss (six to seven pounds per week in the first six to 12 months)

  • It is the most durable procedure for long-term weight loss

  • The sleeve gastrectomy procedure may be done through an open approach (large incision) or via the more common laparoscopic approach.

  • A large portion of the stomach is removed, leaving a narrow tube-shaped pouch with a capacity of approximately three to four ounces.

  • Unlike the Roux-en-Y (gastric bypass) there is no bypassing of the intestines.

  • Most patients typically have a one- to two-night hospital stay.

Benefits of sleeve gastrectomy

  • The sleeve is primarily a restrictive procedure, meaning patients lose weight by limiting the amount of food that can be eaten at a time, with some change in the ability to absorb calories and nutrients.

  • The sleeve may lead to hormonal changes that decrease hunger, and have metabolic effects that may speed the resolution of diabetes.

  • The sleeve gastrectomy procedure provides moderate weight loss (four to five pounds per week in the first six to 12 months).

Get started

Find out if weight loss surgery is right for you — get started on your journey with these simple steps.

Sign up to learn more about UW Health's surgical weight management program.

Start your journey

Enter your name and email/phone number.

Check your email for a confirmation code and follow the link to watch a series of brief videos about our program (15 minutes).

Request an appointment — you will need your current health insurance and height/weight info.

Our scheduling departments will reach out to you within two business days to discuss next steps.

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 into your needs.

Others who may support you in this major life change include:

  • Health psychologists 

  • Nurse practitioners/physician assistants 

  • Program/clinical managers 

  • Program/medical assistants 

  • Registered dietitians 

  • Registered nurses

Our providers

Patient support and services

Tools to get you ready and help you thrive

There’s a lot you can do to increase your odds for success before, during and after treatment. We offer several resources to help.

Support group

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 is dedicated to interacting with and gaining support from patients and professionals who are involved or interested in our surgical weight management program.

Please note, we no longer allow support people due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Group details

  • Price: Free

  • Meeting time: 5 p.m. (unless noted below)

2023 support group dates and topics

Date: February 13
Mindfulness/mindful eating exercise
Presenters: Kim Fleischmann, PhD, and Wendy Hahn, RDN
Location: East Madison Hospital Learning Kitchen, Room 1900

Date: April 10
Topic: To be determined

Date: June 12
Topic: Grilling
Presenter: Wendy Hahn, RDN
Location: East Madison Hospital Learning Kitchen, Room 1900 (outside)

Date: August 14
Topic: Fitness demo
Presenter: Heather Grant, preventative cardiology supervisor
Location: East Madison Hospital Turf Field (outside)

Date: October 9
Topic: Health psychology topic to be determined
Presenters: Lisa Nackers, PhD, and Whitaker Myers, PhD
Location: To be determined

Date: December 11
Topic: Holiday cooking demo
Presenter: Wendy Hahn, RDN
Location: East Madison Hospital Learning Kitchen, Room 1900

Upcoming 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: January 18, 2023
Time: 3–4:30 p.m.
Register here

Date: February 8, 2023
Soft foods
Time: 3–4:30 p.m.
Register here

Date: March 15, 2023
The Bariatric Plate
Time: 3–4:30 p.m.
Register here

More resources

These resources can provide more helpful information:

Frequently asked questions

Deciding to have surgery is a significant decision. The following information is intended to help answer common questions about the procedure.

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!

Am I a good fit for bariatric weight loss surgery?

Do you:

  • 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.

When will I be able to have surgery?

The program pathway is a minimum of five consecutive monthly visits (all required), which include group and individual appointments.

What types of bariatric surgery does UW Health offer?

Our surgeons offer the sleeve gastrectomy and the Roux-en-Y bypass procedures as well as endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty.

Do you offer revisional surgery?

Yes, our surgeons also perform revisional surgery if medically indicated for people who have had previous weight loss surgery.

Can my child have bariatric 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.

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Medical weight management
Helping you build new habits

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. UW Health's medical weight management team will help you every step of the way.

Patient stories

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.


Where to find us