The decision to have obesity surgery is an important and often difficult one. The surgeons and the bariatric team at the University of Chicago Medicine Center for the Surgical Treatment of Obesity have been leaders in the field for more than 20 years and are ready to help support and guide you through the decision-making process.



Our surgical teams are among the most experienced and innovative in the world when it comes to minimally invasive obesity surgery. They have performed more of these procedures than any other surgeons in the Midwest. In fact, our board-certified surgeons were the first in the Chicago area to perform laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery and the first in the Midwest to perform laparoscopic duodenal switch surgery, which offers hope for the most severely obese patients.


We have an outstanding group of surgeons who are highly trained at the best institutions, including our own, who can bring the latest technology to help treat patients with surgical diseases in a way that is also, high touch, high caring. And really helps patients feel and uniformly say when they meet our surgeons, that they feel like they had their situation explained to them for the first time. That they really understood what was going on, what was needed. And the surgeon and the team was there for them, all the way through. 

National Leaders in Excellence

We recognize obesity is a complex, chronic condition. We tailor surgical treatment to each individual — ensuring each patient gets the most beneficial outcome. Patients with chronic conditions related or unrelated to obesity have access to hundreds of respected specialists in diabetes, heart disease, digestive problems and other disorders. In fact, we regularly treat patients who require special surgical expertise due to other complicating conditions.

Our center has been awarded the Blue Cross Blue Shield Blue Distinction for Bariatric Surgery and has been named an Institute of Quality for Bariatric Surgery by Aetna, as well as a Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence by Cigna. Additionally, we have earned the American Society for Bariatric Surgery's designation as a Center of Excellence, signifying the highest standards in obesity surgery. Only a select group of bariatric surgery programs in the nation have met the requirements to achieve this important distinction.

We are one of a few programs in the country — and the only program in the Midwest — that offers all four major surgical options for the treatment of severe obesity using minimally invasive techniques. With minimally invasive surgery, patients experience less pain, less scarring and a shorter hospital stay than traditional surgeries. The procedures we offer are:

Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (VSG)

During a VSG procedure, the stomach is permanently reduced to about 15 percent of its original size, leaving a sleeve-shaped portion that can hold less food and is resistant to stretching. Depending on the individual needs of each patient, the surgery can be performed as a single, primary procedure or as the second part of a two-stage procedure to help patients lose weight before undergoing another weight loss surgery, such as duodenal switch or Roux-en-Y gastric bypass.

Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass (RYGB)

One of the most frequently performed weight loss surgeries in the country, RYGB is when the upper portion of the stomach is stapled and the upper intestine is connected to the stomach. Food is rerouted so it does not come into contact with the main stomach area. Stomach size is reduced to the size of a golf ball, making patients feel fuller between meals. In addition, patients may find that they no longer crave — or even like — sweet foods

Biliopancreatic Diversion with Duodenal Switch (DS)

The patient's stomach is left larger with DS than with the other options. The small intestine is re-routed so that nutrients and calories can only be absorbed in the final three feet. This surgery typically results in the most weight loss and least weight regain. It can also be an effective treatment for Type 2 diabetes.

Adjustable Gastric Banding (Lap-Band)

In this procedure, a band is placed around the upper portion of the patient's stomach. The band severely restricts the amount of food he or she can eat. Because the stomach is not altered, the patient can digest food normally. One of the benefits of this procedure is that your doctor or nurse can adjust the band depending on your specific needs. Because the band is connected by tubing to an access port implanted under the skin, it can be adjusted during a clinic visit.

Revisional Surgery

We are also a regional and national referral center for complex and revisional bariatric surgery.

Ongoing Care

At UChicago Medicine, we are dedicated to long-term, follow-up care. When you have surgery here, we offer continued care for the rest of your life. Our patients have access to our dietitians, nurses and physicians for as long as needed.

We understand that bariatric surgery is a life-changing procedure. We offer a monthly support group for patients facilitated by a clinical psychologist with the participation of surgeons, nurses and dietitians.

 


At UChicago Medicine, all of our bariatric surgeries are performed laparoscopically, a minimally invasive technique that requires five or six small incisions ranging from 1/4 to 3/4 inches in length. Laparoscopic approaches offer the same potentially life-saving results as traditional "open" obesity surgeries — which require a single large incision extending from the lower edge of the breastbone down to the belly button — but with significantly less pain and fewer complications, such as wound infections and hernias. Patients typically return home two to four days after their surgery and usually return to work and other activities significantly earlier than they would after traditional weight loss surgery.

During a laparoscopic procedure, the surgeon inserts a laparoscope, which is a thin tube with a tiny video camera on the end of it, through a 10-millimeter incision in the middle of the abdomen. The surgeon then inserts surgical instruments through the additional incisions to perform the operation. Throughout the surgery, the laparoscope's camera projects a high-resolution, magnified image of the surgical field onto multiple video monitors, allowing the surgeon to perform the procedure safely and with high precision.

Patients from across the country turn to UChicago Medicine for obesity surgery. Our surgeons perform hundreds of obesity surgeries a year. With their surgical expertise and the strength of a supporting multidisciplinary team, we are able to help many patients who are often considered to be too obese or high risk for laparoscopic weight loss surgery. Our surgeons' rate of surgical complications is also lower than the national average, despite the larger and higher-risk patients treated at our center.


The key to the success of our bariatric surgery program is the multidisciplinary approach we take to treating obesity. We have assembled a team that provides unmatched expertise before, during and after weight loss surgery. In addition to surgeons, our team includes other specially trained physicians, dietitians, nurse practitioners and clinical psychologists.

It is important to keep in mind that any bariatric surgical procedure is a tool, not a cure. In order to have the best outcomes possible, it is critical to make significant changes in diet and lifestyle following surgery. All of our patients undergo a thorough pre-operative evaluation to make sure surgery is the most appropriate and safest option. In addition to a complete evaluation by our surgeons, patients meet one-on-one with dietitians and psychologists who have specific expertise in the management of obesity. These experts assess whether patients are well suited and well prepared for the surgery. Following surgery, our expert physicians and nurses follow patients for years to ensure the best outcomes possible.

The first step toward bariatric surgery is to attend an information session. This session is for patients who are interested in learning more about our surgical weight loss program. This is followed by an evaluation with our surgical team.

We offer both online webinars and in-person information sessions.

Sessions are available at the Center for Care and Discovery - Hyde Park, Room 7750:

  • First and and fourth Monday of every month from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

  • Second Tuesday of every month from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

To register for either in-person session or for the online webinar, please call 1-888-824-0200. Space is limited, so please register ahead of time.

How do I know if I am eligible for weight loss surgery?

UChicago Medicine follows guidelines supported by the National Institutes of Health in order to determine a patient's eligibility for weight loss surgery. Rather than using weight, we use body mass index (BMI) as a criteria for surgery — excess fat in relation to height. Individuals are candidates for surgery if:

  • Their BMI is greater than 40 or between 35 and 40 with major obesity-related medical problems, such as diabetes, hypertension, hyperchloremic, sleep apnea. Check your BMI.
  • They have failed previous attempts at weight loss in a medically supervised program

Before becoming eligible for surgery, you will meet with our surgeons, dietitians, psychologists and members of our nursing staff for a full evaluation.

Is weight loss surgery right for everyone?

No, surgery is not a solution for everyone. We only determine whether a patient is right for surgery after a complete evaluation and discussion with the patient. Because weight loss surgery is a life-altering procedure, we want to make sure our patients are committed to making the lifestyle changes needed for a successful procedure and life-long health maintenance

What are the risks of weight loss surgery?

All major surgery comes with risks, and the risks are different for each patient. At UChicago Medicine, our surgeons have better outcomes than most. During your first appointment, your surgeon will explain your individual risk level.

How much weight will I lose? Will the weight loss be quick?

The amount of weight you lose and how fast you lose it depends on which weight loss surgery you have. Patients who have adjustable gastric banding (Lap-Band) procedures usually lose weight more slowly the first year than those who have gastric bypass (RYGB) or duodenal switch procedures (DS).

In our program, the average patient loses between 68 to 78 percent of his or her excess body weight after RYGB or DS and between 60 to 70 percent after vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG). Weight loss with gastric banding is less predictable. The amount of weight loss also depends on your age, gender, starting body mass index and your ability to adhere to lifestyle changes necessary to make surgery a success.

Can I become pregnant after weight loss surgery?

Weight loss surgery has actually been linked with producing a sudden positive change in fertility. Women with fertility problems linked to obesity may begin ovulating regularly for the first time in years post-bariatric surgery. However, women should avoid pregnancy for at least 18 months after surgery. Please discuss any pregnancy plans with your surgeon during one of your clinic appointments.

Will my insurance cover the procedure?

Insurance coverage depends on your plan. For example, some insurance companies require a patient to be in a physician-supervised weight loss program for at least a year before surgery. Before you come in for your first appointment, please call your insurance company to find out if weight loss surgery is covered. UChicago Medicine has an insurance coordinator who can help you after you are approved for surgery.

If I am interested in weight loss surgery, what is my first step?

If you are interested in weight loss surgery, please call us at 1-888-824-0200. We will help you register for an information session where you will learn more about our program and our weight loss surgery options.

What should I bring to my first appointment with the surgeon?

When you come to your first appointment, please bring the following information:

  • Social security number
  • Insurance card
  • Any paperwork needed by your insurance carrier (managed care referral authorization, for example)
  • Any past medical records
  • A list of your current medications
  • A hand-written food diary
  • The name of your primary care doctor

Where is my first appointment?

You can see our physicians at the UChicago Medicine Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine on our main medical campus in Hyde Park.

What happens during the first appointment?

Plan to be at your first appointment for about two hours. It should take place after you have attended an information session. The surgeon or nurse practitioner will perform an extensive history and physical. Our dietitian and psychologist will also see you at this appointment.

After the first appointment, how long will it take before I have surgery?

This depends on your insurance provider and the criteria they require, as well as the tests and requirements our team finds necessary.

How long will I have to stay in the hospital after surgery?

Your hospital stay will depend on the type of weight loss surgery you have. Generally, hospital stays are between one and three days.

How long will I be off of work after surgery?

Again, your time off of work will depend on the type of weight loss surgery you have and the type of work you do. In general, plan to take about two to four weeks off of work. While you will not be incapacitated by any means, you will use this period to focus on healthy eating and drinking habits.

Will I continue seeing my primary care physician after surgery?

Yes. Because your medical condition will change following weight loss surgery, it is essential that you are closely monitored by your primary care doctor. We will keep him or her informed on your progress.

What if I have excess skin?

As you start losing weight, you may notice excess skin. The amount of excess skin you experience is due to your weight loss, age and smoking habits. Sometimes, patients choose to have plastic surgery to have this skin removed. We have a surgeon who works very closely with our patients regarding plastic surgery.

Will I have to take vitamins?

Yes, but the number depends on your weight loss procedure. All procedures require a lifetime of vitamin supplementation. More supplementation and stricter adherence is required with Roux-en-Y and Biliopancreatic Diversion. Our dietitians will help individualize your vitamin regimen.

Should I exercise after weight loss surgery?

Regular exercise is extremely important for maintaining your weight loss. Your bariatric surgery team will help you with the types of exercise you should be doing and how soon after surgery you should start doing them.

Controlling Diabetes and Weight

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