Peter Hallowell and patient

Weight Loss Surgery

Obesity is a preventable medical condition that can cause diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea and joint problems. If exercise and diet alone have failed to help, weight loss surgery offers an effective way to lose weight and improve your health.

At UVA, we have the most experienced bariatric and metabolic surgery team in Central Virginia. We offer the following procedures:

Surgical options: 

  • Gastric bypass 
  • Sleeve gastrectomy 

Non-surgical options: 

  • Endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty 
  • Endoscopic gastric balloon 

Weight Loss: Surgical Options

Gastric bypass

Gastric bypass, also called Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, involves creating a small pouch from the stomach and connecting that pouch directly to the small intestine. After the procedure, swallowed food goes into this small stomach pouch and then directly into the small intestine (bypassing the rest of your stomach and some of your small intestine).

Sleeve gastrectomy

Sleeve gastrectomy, also called a vertical sleeve gastrectomy, is a less-invasive procedure that only uses small cuts in your upper abdomen. During the procedure, surgeons reduce the size of your stomach by forming it into a tube about the size and shape of a banana. This restricts the amount of food you can eat and causes hormonal changes that promote weight loss and help relieve some conditions associated with being overweight.

These surgical procedures are usually only done if diet and exercise haven't worked or you have serious weight-related health issues, including:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure and/or cholesterol
  • Obstructive sleep apnea 
  • Type 2 diabetes 
  • Infertility
  • Severe gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

Understanding Weight-Loss Surgery

Listen to Peter Hallowell, MD explain types of bariatric and metabolic surgery, who is a candidate and what patients can expect. View Transcript.

Who Qualifies?

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a tool that compares your height to your weight to measure your body fat. BMI results fall into these ranges:

  • BMI less than 18.5 = underweight
  • 18.25-24.9 = healthy weight 
  • 25-29.9 = overweight
  • 30-34.9 = Class I obesity
  • 35-39.9 = Class II obesity
  • 40 and over = Class III obesity

You can calculate your BMI using this tool from the NIH.

Individuals qualify for weight loss surgery if they:

  • Have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 35 and over with at least one obesity-related condition, or
  • Have a BMI of 40 and over

Why Choose UVA?

UVA has been a leader in weight-loss surgery for more than two decades. We:

  • Have the most experienced metabolic and bariatric team in central Virginia, with more than 3,000 successful surgeries performed
  • Take patients with a BMI of 35 and higher, with expertise treating patients with a BMI of 60 or higher
  • Are designated a comprehensive center by the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP)
  • Are a Blue Cross and Blue Shield Blue Distinction Center
  • Offer a comprehensive program that includes:
    • Education and evaluation
    • Board certified surgeons
    • Physicians specially trained in metabolic disorders
    • Dietitians
    • Certified registered nurses
    • Behavioral health specialists

Learn more about the services offered at the UVA Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery Clinic.

Considering Weight-Loss Surgery

Is Surgery For You?

If you are morbidly obese and have tried every diet, medication and lifestyle change with no long-lasting result, this procedure may be for you. You must also:

  • Feel ready to undergo a change in lifestyle and eating habits
  • Be twice your ideal body weight or more, or have a BMI greater than 35 (calculate your BMI here)
  • Have the approval of your primary doctor

Your insurance may not cover weight-loss procedures. Be sure to check with your provider before scheduling an appointment.

What To Expect

  • Your doctor will assess and counsel you on the benefits and risks of surgery, as well as determine what type of surgery may be best for you. You'll discuss attributes of a healthy lifestyle and eating habits.
  • Weight-loss surgery takes about 1-2 hours and typically requires a two-day hospital stay.
  • After the operation, patients usually experience significant weight loss in the first year following surgery and generally are able to maintain a lower weight.

Education and Evaluation

  • You will be required to attend a free educational seminar to learn more about the procedure, possible complications, dietary and psychological changes, and expected outcomes.
  • Our team of registered dietitians will meet with you to understand your current eating habits and develop a personalized plan to help you prepare for surgery.
  • Patients must also meet with a behavioral health specialist before surgery to ensure you are mentally ready for surgery and ready for the changes you'll experience post-surgery.
Non-Surgical Weight-Loss Options

Endoscopic ORBERA™ Gastric Balloon

In this outpatient, non-surgical procedure, your doctor inserts a balloon through your mouth and into your stomach. Once inside, your doctor fills the balloon with saline, which expands it to the size of a grapefruit. The balloon helps you learn portion control and healthy eating habits. After six months, your doctor removes the balloon through a second outpatient procedure.

Benefits include: 

  • Temporary balloon placement instead of permanent alternatives
  • It doesn't require surgery or leave scars
  • Short recovery time
  • It can increase your amount of weight loss vs. diet and exercise alone
  • The procedure takes about 20-30 minutes to complete

Endoscopic Sleeve Gastroplasty

Endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty reduces the size of your stomach without surgery. Using an endoscope, a suturing device is threaded into your mouth and down to your stomach. There, the doctor places sutures in the lining of the stomach that change it's shape. This limits how much you can eat and affects your ability to absorb calories.

This procedure may be an option if you have a BMI of 30 or more. Along with lifestyle changes, endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty can lead to significant weight loss.

Please note that payment for both the gastric balloon and endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty procedures is generally not covered by insurance. We recommend you contact your insurance provider for more information regarding coverage.

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