Our Bariatric Team

Teresa LaMasters, MD, FACS - Medical Director, UnityPoint Clinic Weight Loss; Bariatric Surgeon

Dr. LaMasters received her medical degree from the University of South Dakota School of Medicine in 2001.  She completed her residency in General Surgery at the University of Kansas School of Medicine - Wichita in 2006.  She then went on to complete advanced training with a fellowship in Minimally Invasive Surgery with an emphasis in Bariatric and Robotic Surgery in 2007 at Stanford University.  She joined the team in August of 2007. 

Dr. LaMasters has performed hundreds of  weight loss surgeries with excellent results.  She was the first surgeon in Iowa to use the DaVinci Robot for Laparoscopic Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass and was also the first surgeon in Iowa to perform the new sleeve gastrectomy procedure. Dr. LaMasters has a passion for treating obese patients and guiding them through their weight loss journey, and has brought cutting-edge technology and techniques to our program.

"I chose to dedicate my career to weight loss surgery because the problem of obesity is so overwhelming in our society.  My own family is affected by the disease of obesity.  I feel the treatment of obesity is very complex and challenging.  This is one area that I can really help people change their lives.  This is truly live-saving surgery and I can't imagine a better area to dedicate my time and talent."


Steven Cahalan, M.D., F.A.C.S. - Bariatric Surgeon 

Dr. Cahalan completed his undergraduate education and medical education at the University of Iowa. He did his general surgery residency at Iowa Methodist Medical Center and has been practicing in the Des Moines area for over 20 years. He is certified by the American Board of Surgery. Dr. Cahalan's clinical interests include general surgery, bariatrics and laproscopy.

"I teach, I care and I am very persistent. I try to care for patients’ physical, emotional and spiritual needs.”


Alissa Lilla, PA-C, MPAS - Physician Assistant

Ms. Lilla received her Physician Assistant degree from the University of Iowa in 2002, she has experience in general surgery as well as surgical oncology. She joined the UnityPoint Clinic weight loss team in 2007. Ms. Lilla assists with surgical cases and provides care for patients in the hospital setting following their surgery. Her experience maximizes the safety of the patient's surgical experience. Laparoscopic adjustable gastric band patients will also see her frequently in the office for evaluations, follow-up care, and fluid adjustments.

"I am dedicated to working as part of our team in the treatment of obesity to help improve quality of life for our patients."


Janelle Hodovic, MPH, RD, LD - Dietitian

Ms. Hodovic received her Dietetics degree from Buffalo State College in 2002 and began working with Bariatric surgery shortly thereafter. She has a special interest in the lifelong dietary changes necessary after Bariatric surgery. She meets with patients to provide individualized dietary counseling.



Todd Jenkins LMHC, LMFT - Licensed Mental Health Counselor

Mr. Jenkins received a Bachelors degree in Psychology from the University of Iowa in 1984: a Masters of Arts in Psychology from the University of Missouri in 1990; and a Masters of Science in Counseling and Human Development from Radford University in 1998. He has worked in the field of behavioral health for many years prior to coming to work for the UnityPoint Clinic weight loss team.  Mr. Jenkins conducts a majority of the program's pre-surgical bariatric mental health assessments. He is also available to provide lifelong counseling to enhance your success with making the necessary behavioral and emotional changes associated with weight loss.  

"The reason I was drawn to work with this population was my concern about the growing epidemic of obesity and the serious implications that this health problem has for the quality of life of individuals and families."