Weight Loss Surgery Process

Begin the Process

Weight loss surgery is a life-changing decision. The experienced team at UnityPoint Clinic - Weight Loss understands this and one step at a time, they will help you make the decisions and commitments necessary for bariatric surgery.


Upon referral, patients will be scheduled for an informational class in our office. This group class is taught by the weight loss surgery team. Patients will receive a comprehensive educational manual at this class that outlines the bariatric surgery options. This is a good time to learn about what we expect out of our patients and what life as a surgery patient will be like.

Consultation with Bariatric Surgeon and Psychologist

During your initial consultation, the surgery team will help you understand the comprehensive weight loss surgery program at UnityPoint Clinic - Weight Loss. The surgeon will also go over your health history and perform a brief physical exam. You will also meet with our psychologist to address your mental and psychological ability to handle the surgery and the life changes that follow it. At the conclusion of the consultation, the team will determine if you are an appropriate candidate for weight loss surgery.

Insurance Approval

Many insurance plans will cover weight loss surgery if you meet the National Institute of Health guidelines. It is your responsibility to contact your insurance company to be sure they will pay for the surgery. Some questions you should ask include:

  • Is the surgeon in my insurance network?
  • Is bariatric surgery covered under my policy?
  • Are there special requirements, such as a physician-supervised diet and/or exercise program, that must be done before the surgery can be approved?

The UnityPoint Clinic - Weight Loss team will request approval from your insurance company and send copies of all your medical records. If you receive a denial from your insurance company due to a special requirement, please contact your primary care physician to help you meet that requirement.

Pre-Surgical Visit

After receiving approval from your insurance company, you will meet with our team for a final pre-surgery visit. At your pre-surgical visit you will:

  • Schedule your bariatric surgery and have the opportunity to ask the surgeon any other questions you may have.
  • Meet with our dietitian to discuss your eating habits and health history. The dietitian will also provide you with information on the importance of changing your diet before and after surgery.
  • Be tested for H. Pylori, a bacteria that some people carry in their stomach. It can cause ulcers; you will be treated with antibiotics prior to surgery if it is present.

Bariatric Surgery

The procedure itself can take anywhere from one to three hours. Provided you have no complications, you can expect to stay in the hospital for approximately three days for gastric bypass and overnight for the Lap-Band procedure.

Immediate care during and after weight loss surgery is provided by these and other specialists:

  • Surgeon: UnityPoint Clinic weight loss surgeons have extensive experience with critical care patients and are able to provide comprehensive and complete care for any medical and surgical needs.
  • Physician's Assistant: Our physician's assistant helps with all surgical cases and will help with your care while you are in the hospital.
  • Anesthesiologists:  Iowa Methodist's board-certified anesthesiologists have extensive experience in the management of obese and overweight patients.
  • Pulmonary specialists: Experts in sleep medicine work in conjunction with the surgeon and hospital staff to ensure patients with underlying respiratory problems, such as breathing disorders found in morbidly obese patients, have the best chance at optimal recovery.
  • Cardiologists: Iowa Methodist's board-certified cardiologists are available for any cardiac difficulties.

Surgical Follow-Up Visits

After surgery, you will have scheduled visits with the surgeon and other members of the weight loss surgery team. During these visits, weight loss, diet and physical activity will be reviewed. Examinations and tests will be performed as needed. Our goal is to provide continued care and encouragement.

Follow-up is extremely important to every bariatric surgery patient. Although some of the tools for weight reduction will have been provided, learning to use these tools properly is not easy. Patients must make attitude and habit changes related to eating, coping with stress and pleasure seeking in order to ensure hunger is controlled and overeating or frequent snacking does not occur.

Dietary and Psychiatric Counseling

All patients in our program will receive a minimum of one year of dietary and psychiatric counseling specific to the issues associated with the change in their lifestyle after surgery.

Exercise Consultation

Approximately three months following your surgery, you will meet with a physical therapist to discuss your exercise plan. Exercise is a crucial component of your weight loss surgery care. It will accelerate your weight loss and will help you maintain lifelong weight control. Exercise provides many benefits such as reducing high blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease, improving depression, providing increased energy, and improving your overall quality of life. Your exercise program will also help to sculpt your new body by increasing muscle tone and will improve your self image.

Reconstructive Surgery

Reconstructive surgery is often needed after your weight has stabilized, approximately 12-18 months after surgery. Each patient may have an individual evaluation at the time of maximum weight loss to discuss options. We do not perform the plastic surgery, but will discuss local referral options with you.