How to Get Bariatric Surgery

So, you’ve done your research and decided that bariatric surgery is right for you. So how do you get started? Start by calling Alabama Bariatrics at 256-274-4523, or fill in your contact information on the Contact Us area of the side bar. We’ll get basic insurance policy information and screen your initial questions over the phone. Then, we’ll make an office visit for you with Dr. Suggs at either our Decatur or Huntsville offices, or direct you to an office-based mini-webinar or a community webinar at the hospital, depending upon your preference. You may want to consider going to a support group as well. See the support group listings on the Home Page.

Then, you may ask, what is the process for having bariatric surgery? Below is a guide to the process. Note that the Orbera intragastric balloon is the nonsurgical weight-loss device, and have a different process. See the separate Intragastric Balloon page on this website.

Initial request by patient or PCP for consultation

Phone calls are always returned within 24 hours. The staff of Alabama Bariatrics will establish that you have the appropriate BMI, age, and co-morbidities that would make you a candidate for bariatric surgery.

Initial Office/Surgeon Visit

Appointments with Dr. Suggs can almost always be made within 2 weeks, if not sooner. He will do a thorough history and physical to determine if you will be a good candidate for bariatric surgery, and discuss with you which operation (laparoscopic gastric bypass, laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, or laparoscopic adjustable gastric band) is best for you. You’ll be asked to fill out lots of forms, and to watch a PowerPoint slideshow on bariatric surgery, so come to your appointment 45 minutes early. Dr. Suggs will send a letter to your primary care physician letting them know you’re considering bariatric surgery. Note: all office visits with Dr. Suggs can be conducted at either our Decatur or Huntsville offices.

Attend a bariatric webinar or mini-webinar or view the slideshow in the office. Support group attendance (optional but highly recommended).

Dietician Consultation and Assessment

Obesity treatment documentation (6 months, height and weight from PCP, 3 to 5 years of records, etc.), diet history form, analysis of current diet, education on the post-op bariatric diet and lifestyle changes.

Next Steps

Possible psyche referral.

Smoking cessation program referral, if needed.

Lab/Studies. Blood work including vitamin levels, liver tests, anemia test; EKG; and Chest x-ray (if age 50 or older)

+/- EGD/colonoscopy
+/- sleep study
+/- Doppler lower extremities to look for blood clots, if high risk or history of blood clots
+/- ECHO
Possible IVC filter placement if history of blood clots or pulmonary embolism
+/- medical clearance by your primary care physician or other physician
+/- clearance by a cardiologist

Insurance Approval

We do need to know which operation you will be having and which hospital you have chosen before submission. Your insurance can take up to 30 days to answer. If there is an initial rejection for surgery, don’t despair. We may just need to submit additional documentation.

No insurance coverage for bariatric surgery? Do you have coverage, but a ridiculously high insurance deductible? Bariatric surgery is still important for your health, so there are financing options available. See the Prices/Insurance page on this website.

Pre-Op Visit with Surgeon

OR date is given. Review consent form and bariatric surgery quiz. Dr. Suggs will thoroughly answer any questions. Your medical history and all labs/studies are carefully reviewed with you. Pre-op diet, pre-op medication, and other instructions given.


with the hospital and anesthesia pre-op evaluation. May simply be done over the phone. Patient called the night before surgery. Clear liquids plus protein shakes the day before surgery and nothing to drink 4 hours before your surgery.


The day after surgery. Dr. Suggs will see you at the hospital, and if feeling well and tolerating the Phase 1 bariatric clear liquid diet, you will be discharged home. The bariatric coordinator at the hospital will spend about 45 minutes with you that morning discussing your post-op diet and other instructions.

Post-Op Visits

1 week, 1 month, 3 months, and 6 months (with labs) with Dr. Suggs. Annual visits with Dr. Suggs for a lifetime (with labs and dietician consultation). Regular support group attendance and periodic visits with the dietician to keep you on track are highly recommended.

Think bariatric surgery is right for you? Ready to get started? Nervous but excited?!?!? Give Alabama Bariatrics a call at (256) 274-4523 or check out our 60 Second Quiz to find out what your next steps should be.

Our Patients

*Results may vary

“Just wanted to reach out at my 2 year mark and tell you all THANK YOU again for giving me my life back! 🤍🤍🤍

This has hands down been the best thing I could have ever done for myself! ... in October I was certified to be a personal trainer! WHAT? It’s been so crazy, so rewarding and so life changing!” - Shannon Layton