You asked, we answered: How does weight-loss surgery work?

Man sitting, speaking to his doctor


I am very interested in bariatric surgery. How does a person start this process, from insurance approval to actual surgery?

Answered by bariatric surgeon Ivy Haskins, MD:

If you’re wondering if you may be a good candidate for bariatric surgery, starting the process is as easy as a phone call. You may request a referral from your primary care physician or contact us at 402.559.9500 to schedule a consultation.

Studies have shown that bariatric surgery is the most sustainable weight-loss option over the long term and that it leads to significant improvement of medical conditions, possibly even resolution. When you embark on this journey, you must understand that bariatric surgery is not a miracle fix. It’s a lifelong commitment to a healthier lifestyle.

The first step is to contact your insurance company to confirm whether they cover bariatric surgery. There are many factors regarding what insurance may or may not cover. If your insurance does not cover bariatric surgery, typically, you must pay out-of-pocket. In some cases, there are financial assistance options available.

The next step is filling out and submitting the screening intake form. This step is essential for gathering information, including your medical history, prior weight loss efforts, potential barriers to surgery and additional information your insurance company may look for. Once you have confirmed coverage, submitted the screening intake form and completed the initial visit, our bariatric team will help identify and communicate your specific insurance requirements, followed by the Nebraska Medicine Bariatric Center requirements.

A consultation with a doctor is next, which opens the door to three to six months of preparation. During this time, you will undergo testing and laboratory work, meet with a dietitian, undergo an evaluation with a bariatric psychologist, and complete any other requirements depending on your medical history and insurance coverage. After your initial consultation visit, we will work with you to schedule many of these additional appointments.  

Surgery can be scheduled once your bariatric surgery type has been decided upon and approved by your insurance. The bariatric team will work closely with your primary care physician and any other specialists who are a part of your care.

After surgery, you will most likely stay in the hospital for one night. Once you are discharged from the hospital, you will receive a call from one of our bariatric nurses within a week to see how you are doing at home. You’ll have a two-week follow-up visit, followed by appointments at six weeks, three months, six months, nine months and a year postoperatively. You’ll then have appointments annually for five years. Keeping these follow-up appointments is essential to reaching your weight-loss goals.

Your team will discuss what to expect for weight loss after surgery. The goal is to lose about 50% of your excess weight (current weight minus ideal body weight) within six months to a year after surgery.

The Bariatrics Center is the region's most comprehensive weight-management program, offering surgical and medical weight-loss treatment options for obesity. Begin your weight-loss journey with our step-by-step guide.