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Surgical weight loss (or bariatric surgery) can be a remarkable tool, but it’s only one part of the weight loss process. Our team of experts provides step-by-step guidance throughout your journey, so you can lose weight safely and effectively – and keep it off for a lifetime.

When you decide to get bariatric surgery at Atrium Health, you receive your own personal weight loss support team. Our dietitians, bariatric surgeons, nurses and exercise specialists all work together to develop a unique plan for you. We’ll also explain the surgery process in detail, address any concerns you may have, and help you adjust to life before and after surgery.

Our surgical weight loss program includes:

  • Health and nutrition tips
  • Exercise training
  • Personalized diet plans
  • Health insurance guidance
  • Weight loss surgery and medical care
  • Support groups

Weight loss (bariatric) surgery options:

One of the most common weight loss surgeries, Roux-en-Y gastric bypass helps you lose weight by limiting your food intake and calorie absorption.

In this procedure, a stapling method is used to create a small pouch in the stomach, which can only hold a small amount of food.

The newly formed pouch is then attached to the small intestine, allowing food to bypass part of the small intestine, which is where most of the calorie absorption takes place.

This procedure helps you achieve lasting results by limiting food intake, reducing appetite and slowing digestion.

Like a wristwatch, an inflatable silicone band is wrapped around the upper stomach to create a new, tiny pouch. This stomach pouch limits and controls the amount of food you eat.

A small outlet is also created to slow the emptying process into the stomach and intestines. As a result, you should feel full and be satisfied with smaller amounts of food, which leads to weight loss.

The band can be adjusted or removed, making this one of the only reversible weight loss procedures.

In this commonly done procedure, a large amount of the stomach is removed. A small pouch (or sleeve) is created with the remaining portion of the stomach (about the size and shape of a banana).

The small stomach pouch restricts the amount of food that can be consumed, resulting in weight loss.

The duodenal switch procedure, also known as biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch, helps you lose weight by restricting the amount of food your stomach can hold and the amount of calories your body absorbs.

The first part of the surgery is a sleeve gastrectomy in which a large portion of the stomach is removed. A small pouch (or sleeve) is created with the remaining portion (about the size and shape of a banana).

In the second part of the surgery, a section of the small intestine is rerouted. This results in food moving more quickly through your digestive system, which also means fewer calories are absorbed.

Robert's story

Robert faces long, hard days working as a volunteer firefighter. Being overweight made everything more difficult. One day he decided to do something about it and attended a bariatric surgery seminar. After receiving weight loss surgery, he lost almost 170 lbs.  

Heather's story

After losing more than 130 lbs., Heather finds joy in the everyday things she’s once again able to do. Her only regret is that she waited so long to have weight loss surgery.

Ralph’s story

Ralph decided to get serious about losing weight when obesity-related health problems started to arise. He lost 197 lbs. after having the sleeve gastrectomy procedure.

Frequently asked questions about bariatric surgery

Bariatric surgery can lead to massive weight loss. Long term, you can expect to lose at least 50% of your excess weight and often much more. Along with bettering your quality of life and increasing your lifespan, you'll also improve or eliminate obesity-related conditions, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and some cancers.

Your bariatric surgeon and dietitian will explain the diet you need to follow, in detail, before and after surgery, including what types of food are best, portion size and meal frequency. They’ll also provide guidance on supplementation to ensure you’re receiving the right amount of vitamins and minerals.

Obesity itself can cause biological changes within your body that can make you more likely to regain weight. But, it’s rare to regain all the weight you lost, and with proper nutrition and certain lifestyle changes, you can keep the weight off for a lifetime.

Candidates for bariatric surgery:

  • Must be between 18 and 70 years old (in most cases)
  • Have a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or more (calculate your BMI)
  • Often have a chronic disease, such as Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or sleep apnea
  • Should be highly motivated to make lasting lifestyle changes
Most bariatric surgeries take about 2 hours of actual operating time, but this varies.
Surgery recovery times differ based on the type of surgery as well as the patient. Most patients remain in the hospital for 1 to 2 days for gastric bypass. Many adjustable gastric band patients go home the same day.
Most people are ready to return to work in 2 weeks. Some feel they can return earlier, some later.
Our bariatric surgery program is a MBSAQIP Accredited-Comprehensive Center. Being an accredited MBSAQIP center means we meet the highest-quality bariatric surgical standards and have quality improvement actions in place. We’ve also performed hundreds of successful bariatric surgeries and offer lifelong support, including bariatric support groups.
All insurance coverage is different, so this depends on your individual insurance plan. We have insurance coordinators to review your insurance plan and assess your coverage before surgery is scheduled.

While there are many checkups and meetings in between, these are the basic steps you’ll go through:

  1. Free information seminar (required for anyone interested in weight loss surgery)
  2. Health history form
  3. Verify insurance (our insurance coordinators will help with any issues)
  4. Consultation with bariatric surgeon
  5. Psychological assessment
  6. Pre-surgery prep
  7. Surgery
  8. Post-surgery doctor visits
  9. Ongoing support
  10. Support group meetings

Learn more about our bariatric surgery program.

Print health history forms

Bariatric support group: pre- and post-surgery

A big part of your weight loss success is your commitment to care before and after your surgery, and that includes joining a support group. If you are a pre-surgical patient, you’ll benefit from better understanding the process you’re about to begin. If you are a post-surgical patient, you’ll find sharing your challenges and successes with fellow weight loss surgery patients can help you stay motivated to meet your goals.

Sessions are virtual (meaning they are held via your computer or phone) and usually begin with a 20-minute talk on a topic of interest to the group, such as food triggers or emotional obstacles. The rest of the time, members discuss their weight loss experiences and any issues they may be going through.

This support group is held on the 2nd Thursday of each month from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. All pre- and post-surgical patients are encouraged to attend. Fill out the registration form to join!

Registration Form