Alabama Bariatrics & Minimally Invasive Surgery

Bariatric Diet Orbera Gastric Band Sleeve Gastrectomy Gastric Bypass

W. Jay Suggs, MD, FACS, FASMBS
Madison, Huntsville, and Decatur
Phone: (256) 274-4523
Fax: (256) 203-8791

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6 Months Post

*Results may vary.

Bariatric Surgery FAQ’s

What is bariatric surgery?

    Surgery for weight loss, and therefore improved health.  The surgeries include the laparoscopic gastric bypass, laparoscopic gastric sleeve, and laparoscopic adjustable gastric band.  The Orbera intragastric balloon  and Obalon intragastric balloons are nonsurgical, removable weight loss devices placed through an endoscope.  Benefits of bariatric surgery include improvement, remission, or cure of type II diabetes, high blood pressure, acid reflux, sleep apnea, heart failure, asthma, abdominal pain, fibromyalgia, high cholesterol, and joint pain, to name a few.

Am I a candidate for bariatric surgery?

    If you are between the ages of 18 and 70 and have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or greater, or 35-39 with comorbidities such as diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, or congestive heart failure, you may qualify. Self-pay patients may qualify for the laparoscopic gastric sleeve surgery with a BMI of 30-40 with at least 1 comorbidity or a BMI greater than 40. Patients with a BMI as low as 30 also may qualify for the laparoscopic adjustable gastric band.  The Orbera intragastric balloon and the Obalon intragastric balloon are removable, non-surgical devices for people with a BMI of 30-40.

How do I find out my Body Mass Index?

    The easiest way is to use an app or internet calculator.  You’ll need to know your accurate height and weight.

What types of bariatric surgery does Dr. Suggs perform?

    The laparoscopic gastric sleeve, the laparoscopic gastric bypass, the laparoscopic adjustable gastric band, both laparoscopic and open bariatric revision surgery, the Orbera intragastric balloon, as well as the newest procedure, the Obalon intragastric balloons (which are non-surgical).

What are the risks of bariatric surgery?

    Leaks, bleeding, infections, pulmonary embolism.  Long-term, there is a risk of ulcer, vitamin deficiencies, and internal hernia with the laparoscopic gastric bypass; and risk of slip and breakage with the laparoscopic adjustable gastric band.

What information do I need to know in selecting a bariatric surgeon?

    Experience and outcomes are key.  The length of time the surgeon has been in practice, where the surgeon trained, how many surgeries he has performed, and success rates as well as complication rates are things you’ll want to know.  You’ll want to ask the surgeon about “leak rates” with the laparoscopic gastric bypass and laparoscopic gastric sleeve, bleeding and infection rates, as well as death rate.  Dr. Suggs trained at the Mayo Clinic in general surgery, and did his laparoscopic bariatric fellowship at the University Medical Center-Princeton.  He has been in practice since 2002, has performed over 1,400 bariatric operations with a leak rate of 0.15 % for the laparoscopic gastric bypass, leak rate of 0% for the laparoscopic gastric sleeve, no wound infections for either in the last 8+ years, < 2 % for bleeding, and a mortality rate of 0.16 %. The average excess weight lost for Dr. Suggs’ patients for the laparoscopic gastric sleeve and laparoscopic gastric bypass is 70 %, and for the laparoscopic adjustable gastric band 50 %.  

What is Dr. Suggs’ patient satisfaction rates?

    99+ %.

How do I choose which bariatric surgery is best for me?

    Many patients choose based on how friends and family have done with their bariatric surgery.  Some patients don’t want anything permanent, so they choose the non-surgical Obalon intragastric balloon or the Orbera intragastric balloon (BMI 30-40 only).  Dr. Suggs helps you make the best decision based on your medical problems, weight-loss goals, and lifestyle.  Currently, 80% of patients are choosing the laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy.

What if my insurance does not cover bariatric surgery?

    Even if your insurance does not cover it, bariatric surgery is important for your health.  That’s why we offer affordable bariatric surgery starting at $9,995 for the laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, and the non-surgical Obalon and Orbera intragastric balloon starting at $5,995.  Financing options are available.

Is there any reason I should not have bariatric surgery?

    Bariatric surgery is not for everyone.  There are dramatic lifestyle changes that ensue as well as a dramatically changing waistline.  Some medical conditions may influence which bariatric surgery you are offered, and occasionally a patient may be too high risk for bariatric surgery.

Is there anything special that I have to do to prepare for surgery?

    Very little.  We do a comprehensive work-up to make sure you are a good candidate for bariatric surgery, as well as comprehensive education.  Most people are not required to go on a special diet prior to surgery, although your insurance may require you to do 3 to 6 months of physician supervised dieting.

Will I need to see a dietician or other healthcare professional before surgery?

    Yes, you will need to be evaluated by a bariatric dietician.  Some patients need medical clearance from their primary care doctor, a psychology evaluation, and clearance from a cardiologist.  Your insurance may require you to be seen by other healthcare professionals as well.

Do I need to lose weight before surgery?

    In general, no, but if you weigh more than 500 pounds you will definitely need to lose before surgery.  Some patients are required to lose some weight before surgery, but this is on an individualized basis.

How long will I be in surgery?

    A laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy takes about 45 minutes to perform, and a laparoscopic gastric bypass about 1 hour 15 minutes.  Add another 30 minutes or so for induction of anesthesia and waking you up before going to the recovery room.

Where is surgery performed?

    Crestwood Medical Center or Huntsville Hospital, both in Huntsville.  The Obalon intragastric balloon as well as the Orbera intragastric balloon is performed by Dr. Suggs in Decatur as well as in Madison.

How long will I be in the hospital?

    Generally, just overnight.  The laparoscopic adjustable gastric band, the Obalon intragastric balloon, and the Orbera intragastric balloon are all done as outpatients.

How much weight will I lose?

    About 70 % of your excess weight with the laparoscopic gastric bypass and laparoscopic gastric sleeve, and about 50 % with the laparoscopic adjustable gastric band. With the Obalon intragastric balloon as well as the  Orbera intragastric balloon patients lose about 3x more weight than with a diet alone, so around 30-40 pounds.

What vitamins should I take?

    All patients need an adult multivitamin and calcium daily, and some need extra B12, vitamin D, and iron.  Gastric bypass patients are more likely to need these additional vitamin supplements.  There are a variety of bariatric and lower cost vitamins on the market that we can help you choose from.  Dr. Suggs is not a vitamin salesman, but we do keep samples in the office for you.

What will my diet be like after surgery?

    You’ll be on a progression from liquids for the first 2 weeks, then to pureed, then to a variety of healthy solid foods after about a month.  In the long run, you’ll be able to eat just about anything that you want, just in moderation.

Will I be hungry all the time?

    No.  That’s part of the beauty of how bariatric surgery works.

Is long-term follow-up important?

    Yes.  It’s critical.  We want to see you annually forever.

Will I regain weight?

    Not if you keep the healthy lifestyle and diet changes that you adopt the first year after surgery.

What is considered successful weight loss surgery?

    Improved health and lifestyle rather than a number.

What is important for long-term success?

    Staying with the healthy lifestyle changes and diet that you adopt in the first year after surgery or after Obalon or Orbera intragastric balloon, annual follow up with Dr. Suggs, taking your vitamins, and attending a bariatric support group.

Where are bariatric support groups?

    There are support groups in Huntsville, Decatur, Florence, and Athens in the north Alabama region.

What do I do about hanging skin?

    You lose the weight, but unfortunately not the extra skin.  Although some patients elect after a year out from bariatric surgery to have plastic surgery to remove extra skin from their belly, arms, and/or thighs, most patients do not.  Form-fitting garments, like spandex, work wonders!

How can I contact other patients about their experiences with bariatric surgery?

    Support groups in Huntsville, Decatur, Florence, and Athens are an excellent way to learn about bariatric surgery from a patient’s perspective.  You can also get a lot of that from patients in our waiting room when you’re waiting for your appointment.  Check out our Facebook page Alabama Bariatrics to hear what patients are saying, as well as visit online resources such as  We also keep a reference list of patients who will tell you about their experience.

Should I ask my doctor about having bariatric surgery?

    Definitely.  This is an important, life changing decision that needs your doctor’s support.

How do I get started?

    Give Alabama Bariatrics a call at 256-274-4523.  We look forward to making this journey with you!

Our Patients

Before: 685.0lbs


5 years Post: 243.0lbs (-442.0lbs!)