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Bariatric Care FAQs


How do I know if surgery is right for me or if I qualify?

The guidelines we use to determine which patients are candidates for weight loss surgery were developed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a branch of the federal government in 1991.

Your first step would be to calculate your Body Mass Index or BMI, a measure of height and weight. For weight loss surgery, most people should be approximately 100 pounds over their ideal body weight and have a BMI of 40 or greater. At this level of obesity, many people have serious health risks from their weight. However, many insurance companies will allow weight loss surgery for individuals with a BMI in the 35.0 - 35.9 range if they suffer from other significant obesity-related illnesses.

Those considering surgery also need to be non-smokers (no smoking within two months of surgery) and must not have untreated mental illness or chemical dependency concerns. You can learn more about the various qualifications for surgery at our free introductory information sessions.

A commitment to lifestyle changes is also an important requirement. Weight loss surgery will change your relationship with food and how you eat permanently. If you are not ready for change, or are unwilling to change, an operation may not be right for you.

You'll want to check with your medical insurance company about insurance qualification.

What things might disqualify me for surgery?

Certain medical conditions, life situations or lifestyle choices may prevent you from having surgery. Here are some conditions that may make the procedure too risky:

  • History of non-compliance with medical care
  • Certain active psychiatric illnesses such as personality disorder, schizophrenia, uncontrolled depression, suicidal ideation or substance abuse (less than one year sober)
  • Unstable medical conditions that make the risk of having surgery greater than not having it
  • Cognitive or mental impairments that limit your ability to understand the procedure

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How can I get more information about surgery?

To get more information about weight loss surgery and if it is right for you, we recommend that you start by viewing information on our web site. In addition, we offer free introductory meetings to help you learn more about weight loss surgery and the HealthEast Bariatric Care process.

How can I obtain an appointment to see a surgeon?

The first important step is to attend the free informational seminar where you'll learn about obesity, associated illnesses, weight loss surgery options and whether surgery is right for you. After you have attended the seminar, and you have had an initial appointment with the HealthEast Bariatric Care bariatrician (a medical doctor certified in weight loss management) you may be scheduled for an initial visit to meet with a surgeon.

Introduction to Weight Loss Surgery class


Bariatric Introductory Meeting

To learn about the weight loss surgeries offered through HealthEast Bariatric Care, you are invited to attend a weight loss surgery seminar called...

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What can I expect for my first consultation with the surgeon? 

Your first appointment with the surgeon can be from 30 to 60 minutes depending on your health history. When you meet with your prospective surgeon, bring family or close friends or both with you. Just like at our informational seminar, there is an amazing amount of information to hear, learn, process and consider. Having extra ears in the room is invaluable so that when you wonder, "What did they say about ...?" you have someone else who may remember.

Plan to arrive about 20 minutes early so that you can complete several forms and we can obtain basic medical information, like your weight and vital signs. Your surgeon will review your medical and surgical history, medications, allergies, social and family life situation, and ask about a variety of illnesses or conditions unrelated to your visit. All of this is done to get a complete picture of your health, which is influenced by all of these items. Next your surgeon will examine your body, usually listening to your heart and lungs, inspecting your mouth and teeth, evaluating and feeling your abdomen and checking your legs for swelling. This can give clues to previously undiagnosed illnesses (or problems you may have forgotten) and helps the surgeon plan the safest preoperative preparation.

Your surgeon will discuss with you the different operations for surgical control of weight. Together, you and your surgeon will determine which procedure is most appropriate for you.

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How long does the entire process take until I have surgery?

The very beginning of the process to the actual date of surgery can vary greatly. On average, the pre-surgery preparation process takes three to six months depending upon requirements for your specific insurance.

What information do you need from me for insurance approval? 

Briefly, your insurance company wants to know:

  • Do you meet criteria for weight loss surgery?
  • Are you mentally stable and able to make the changes necessary to be successful after weight loss surgery?
  • Are there any reasons that you would not benefit from surgery?

In addition, we will need you to provide:

  • Insurance ID numbers
  • A list of medications that you are taking
  • Medical records, including doctors' names, addresses and phone numbers

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Is weight loss surgery reversible?  

Weight loss surgery is meant to be a lifetime opportunity for weight management. Not all surgeries are reversible. Although a LapBand® can be physically removed, it leaves a scar and alters the surrounding tissue of the stomach. Other operations, like a Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, really cannot be easily reversed, that is, to restore the anatomy to what it was before surgery. The sleeve gastrectomy cannot be reversed. When you reverse any weight loss surgery, you will likely regain your weight. The surgery is a tool to help you manage your disease.

If I have seen some other surgeon, am I still required to go through this process?

Yes. We want you to go through our entire process because there are most likely important differences from other providers. For instance, we require that you have some basic education about obesity, associated illnesses, weight loss surgery options and whether surgery is right for you. In order to make sure that everyone we see has the same information on which they base their actions and decisions, we require that you attend our informational seminar.

If you already have an authorization from your insurance company, it is linked to a specific surgeon at a specific hospital, and is not necessarily transferable to HealthEast Bariatric Care. It will benefit us greatly to get that authorization from you, but we will also need the original source documents for that authorization. This might include the psychological evaluation, dietitian evaluation and/or a letter of support from your physician or from you. What is needed will depend on your specific insurance company and your policy. The HealthEast Bariatric Care team will also review all the documents to determine if there is anything else you need to do to complete the HealthEast Bariatric Care process.

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Do you have a follow-up program?

We have an extensive follow-up program. We expect that you will return to see us for the rest of your life. Your follow-up program consists of appointments with the bariatrician, surgeon, dietitian, psychologists, physical therapists and our nurses. Your ultimate success depends upon your commitment to lifelong follow up.

Our follow-up visits are:

  • After surgery in the hospital
  • Two weeks after surgery in the bariatric clinic
  • LapBand® patients will come in for their first LapBand® adjustment four weeks after their two-week postoperative check-up with the surgeon
  • Three months after surgery
  • Six month after surgery
  • Nine months after surgery
  • One year after surgery
  • 18 months after surgery
  • Two years after surgery
  • Yearly after the second anniversary of your surgery

Follow-up visits consist of a detailed interview discussing your eating habits, texture and amount of foods, volume and consistency of foods and liquid intake. We also discuss nutrition in general, vitamins and supplements specific to your particular operation, exercise, emotional health, body image and changes, and check laboratory values at varying intervals, depending on your operation. Most follow-up visits are 30 to 45 minutes, depending on your stage and progress.

We are very serious about the importance of long-term follow-up and are dedicated to your lifelong health.

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Should I attend a support group? 

Our two support groups, called Connections, meet monthly. They are open to everyone who is thinking about weight loss surgery, has had an operation or those in recovery. A support group provides a variety of benefits. First of all, it offers an environment where participants understand where you have been, where you are or where you will be in this journey. They understand the problems you face every day. Many of them have the same problems and can share the ways that they have dealt with them. Our support groups are facilitated by a psychologist. There is an educational component to each session as well.

Long-term studies show that people who actively participate in support groups do better in terms of weight loss and satisfaction with outcomes of their operations, and they function better. Connections is not restricted to people who are being seen by our surgeons, and is not limited in size. We hope that you find our groups useful!

Weight Loss Surgery support groups


Connections: Bariatric Care support group

This month's topic: Your Hospital Stay and Compliance- Emily Feig, RN, Bariatric Nurse, Healtheast Surgery and Bariatric Care- Amy Swenson, RN, Bariatric...


Connections: Post-Operative Bariatric Surgery Support Group

Connections: Post-Operative Bariatric Surgery Support Group is a monthly support group for patients who have undergone weight loss (bariatric) surgery and...

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At which hospital do the surgeons operate? 

Our doctors perform weight loss surgery at St. Joseph's Hospital in downtown St. Paul.

St. Joseph's Hospital

Exceptional care in the heart of downtown St. Paul.

Founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in 1853, St. Joseph's is proud to hold the distinction as Minnesota's first hospital.

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45 West 10th Street
St. Paul, MN 55102

Please note: We have a significant construction project taking place in our parking ramp, so please allow extra time for parking.

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Do you accept private pay patients?

Unfortunately, HealthEast Bariatric Care does not accept private pay patients for weight loss surgery at this time.

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