A Comprehensive Surgical Weight Loss Program
WVU Medicine Bariatrics offers a comprehensive, surgical weight loss program. Our program has a strong focus on pre-surgery education and post-operative success. Regular follow-up appointments and monthly support groups are designed to help you succeed. We are here to help you every step of the way!
We offer a team approach to treating severe obesity. Our team includes dietitians, clinical psychologists, physician assistants, and nurses who work with each patient before, during, and after the surgery to ensure our patients receive the best care.
In addition, we have access to healthcare experts who provide a complete range of specialty care and state-of-the-art imaging and scanning services, helping us to deliver a superior quality of care.
Who is a candidate?
Morbid obesity is the qualifying diagnosis for weight loss surgery. Morbid obesity is defined by being either 100% above ideal body weight or 100 pounds above ideal body weight. Candidates are those who have a body mass index (BMI) greater than 40 or a BMI between 35 to 39.9 with one or more other complications, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, or obstructive sleep apnea. BMI is calculated by dividing weight in kilograms by height in meters squared.
How to get started at WVU Bariatrics
The first step to entering the program is to attend an information session. These occur on a monthly basis and are mandatory for all patients. Please call 304-293-1728 to register for a session.
If you are a patient who has had bariatric surgery in the past and wish to continue routine follow-up at WVU Bariatrics, please call 304-598-4890.
Learn more about bariatric surgery at WVU:
- Before Surgery
- Bariatric Surgery FAQs
- Bariatric Surgery Options
- Information Session
- Support Group Information
- Insurance Coverage
- Success Stories
Learn more about obesity:
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The first step in our program is to attend an information session.
Shortly after the information session, the bariatric surgery coordinator and surgeon will review the information you provided, and an appointment will be scheduled for you to meet with the surgeon.
At this visit, the surgeon will review your medical history and have a detailed discussion with you about different types of bariatric procedures. You may have to undergo additional testing and/or evaluations with other medical specialists. Screening tests done before surgery help your surgeon plan for your surgical care. You will meet with a psychologist and dietitian individually as well.
After all tests have been completed, the information is submitted to your insurance company. Once the insurance company pre-authorizes surgery, your appointment can be scheduled.
Two to three weeks prior to your surgery date, appointments are scheduled with the surgeon and pre-admission testing.
This final step before surgery is an opportunity to have your questions answered and to learn more about what to expect after surgery.
What is “morbid obesity” or “clinically severe” obesity?
Morbid obesity and clinically severe obesity are medically defined conditions. Obesity is measured by comparing a person’s weight to their size in a term called Body Mass Index or BMI. BMI is measured by dividing a person’s weight (in kilograms) by their height (in meters squared) BMI calculator.
Morbid obesity is defined as a BMI of 40. Persons with diseases associated with obesity like high blood pressure, diabetes, degenerative arthritis, and sleep apnea and a BMI of more than 35 are considered to have clinically severe obesity. A BMI of 40 usually corresponds to being 100 pounds overweight.
What are the qualifications for this procedure?
You must be at least 100 pounds over your ideal weight and be able to document other weight loss programs that you have tried, but failed, including at least one medically supervised weight loss program. In addition, a psychologist and a nutritionist will evaluate you.
How safe is bariatric surgery?
As with all types of major abdominal surgery, there is a chance of post-operative complications. Complications may include (but are not limited to) cardiac arrhythmia, pulmonary embolism, or wound infection. Your surgeon will discuss possible complications and risks with you. However, bariatric surgery is proven to be safe and effective with minimal overall complications.
What non-surgical complications are associated with bariatric surgery?
Some common complications are hair loss, vomiting, intolerance of some foods, mineral deficiency, or stomach ulcer development. Most of these complications can be resolved or avoided by good nutrition and careful eating. Your surgeon has a sound pre-surgical medical plan and comprehensive post-surgical follow-up plan that minimizes the risk of these complications.
How long does the surgery take?
The average length of surgery for the bypass is about 1 hour. A lap band takes about 30 minutes to complete.
Can I ever lose too much weight?
It is very unlikely for patients to lose too much weight. Occasionally, patients can develop a stricture (outlet obstruction) within the first few weeks after surgery. This is easily correctable. Blood work to screen for vitamin deficiencies is conducted on a regular basis to ensure that patients are well nourished and their needs are being met.
From the time I am seen in the office, how long before I will have the surgery?
In general, after the initial consultation in the office, it can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months to have the surgery. Once we have gathered the information that we need, we send a letter to your insurance company for pre-approval for the procedure. Once obtained, you would then undergo an in-depth history and physical examination as well as some laboratory tests and x-rays. Once those are done, provided there are no additional or unexpected medical problems that would require treatment first, we would schedule your operation.
How long is the hospital stay for a bariatric operation?
The average length of stay for a gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy is 2 nights. If you have a lap band placed, you will typically be in the hospital for one night.
How long would I be off work after bariatric surgery?
In general, you can return to work within 4 to 6 weeks of having the operation.
How much food can be eaten after surgery?
The food intake is limited to 1 or 2 ounces per scheduled meal immediately after surgery so that the stomach can heal properly. Later, the quantity of food that can be eaten increases. At its maximum capacity, about 6 months after surgery, the pouch holds between 4 to 8 ounces of food.
How quickly does a person lose weight after the surgery?
Patients generally lose 60 to 85 % of their excess weight within the first year after surgery. After that, weight loss continues until about 18 months post-surgery when the patient usually achieves his/her goal weight. If you exercise, attend support groups and eat healthy foods, your weight loss from bariatric surgery can be significantly greater.
Can I become pregnant after having the surgery?
Women of childbearing age should avoid pregnancy for 1 year after surgery because rapid weight loss and nutritional deficiencies can harm a developing fetus. If you should become pregnant, you will need to carefully watch your dietary program to make sure you and your baby are well nourished.
The WVU Bariatric Surgery program offers a minimally invasive laparoscopic approach as well as an open alternative if needed.
Weight loss surgery is major surgery, yet safe and effective. It is not a cosmetic operation. You should consider it to be permanent.
The minimally invasive approach consists of a few small incisions. Not all patients are candidates for minimally invasive surgery. The surgeon will assess which approach suits you best during your first appointment.
Surgical options that WVU Medicine offers include:
- Roux-en -Y Gastric Bypass According to the American Society of Bariatric Surgery and the National Institutes of Health, Roux-en-Y gastric bypass is the current gold standard procedure for weight loss surgery. In this procedure, stapling creates a small (15-30cc) stomach pouch. The outlet from this newly formed pouch bypasses most of the stomach and several feet of the small intestine, preventing your body from absorbing all the calories and nutrients from the foods you eat. By combining the smaller stomach and the malabsorption feature, this surgery produces more weight loss than operations that only decrease the intake of food. The malabsorption of nutrients, especially calcium, iron, and Vitamin B12 can be managed through proper diet and vitamin supplements. An excess intake of sugar and fat may trigger a condition known as “dumping syndrome.â€ The results can be extremely unpleasant and can include nausea, weakness, abdominal cramping, and diarrhea.
- Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Banding This procedure restricts and decreases food intake as an adjustable band is placed around the top part of the stomach to create a small pouch. The size of the band is adjusted using a port placed under the skin. Adjusting the band changes how quickly food leaves the new pouch. It is one of the least invasive approaches to obesity surgery, because no permanent changes are made to the body’s physiology. The stomach stays intact and the digestive process remains the same.
- Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy This procedure restricts and decreases food intake through surgical removal of approximately 2/3 of the stomach. Sleeve gastrectomy, also known as vertical gastrectomy, can be used as a stand-alone procedure for weight loss or as a preliminary procedure in patients with very high BMI to render them fit for a more definitive second stage operation (gastric bypass).
Weight Loss Information Session Schedule
If you have attempted multiple diet and exercise programs and still haven’t kept the weight off, bariatric surgery may be for you.
Candidates for weight loss surgery should be 100 pounds overweight and committed to a healthy lifestyle. We provide a free information session so patients can learn about the different weight loss surgeries offered at WVU Bariatrics, including roux-en-y gastric bypass surgery, adjustable gastric banding, and sleeve gastrectomy procedures.
Attendance at a session is a mandatory first step for program participants. There are only 50 seats available. Reservations are required; please call 304-293-1728.
You are welcome to bring one adult support member (over the age of 18) with you to the session.
Free parking is available on site.
Information Session Schedule
- July 12, 2017 at the Erickson Alumni Center from 6 – 8 pm
- July 19, 2017 at the Erickson Alumni Center from 6 – 7:30 pm
Click for Directions to the Erickson Alumni Center.
Weight Loss Surgery Support Group Schedule
Have you had bariatric surgery in the past? Do you feel like you need extra guidance and understanding from peers? Come to WVU Bariatrics monthly support group, facilitated by a licensed health care professional. Once a month pre-surgery and post-surgery patients can gather to discuss their concerns and successes, as well as learn different strategies to keep the weight off from each other and other health care professionals. All are welcome to attend!
No appointment necessary.
Support Group dates and times
July 25, John Jones Conference Room, Health Sciences Center, 6 – 7 pm
Support groups and parking are free.
Please bring with you as many support members as necessary.
For more information, please call 304-293-1728.
Most, but not all, insurance companies cover bariatric surgery. Prior to attending the session, all patients are asked to contact their own insurance company to inquire about their specific benefits/policy.
Be aware that many insurance companies require proof of your having made long-term attempts to lose weight through diet and exercise and/or behavioral techniques.