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How to Get Started

Weight-loss surgery is a major undertaking. Are you mentally and physically ready? You'll undergo an extensive screening process to determine your readiness. Research has shown the best results occur when patients know exactly what will be expected of them before, during, and after the procedure. As one patient said, "You have to wrap your mind around the fact that surgery is not the easy way out. It's a tool – a pretty big tool – that requires commitment a lot of hard work. But if you do the work and follow the results, you'll get fantastic results."

Sanford's pre-surgery checklist includes:

  1. Attend a Free Informational Seminar.
    You'll want to know as much as possible about weight-loss surgery before you seriously consider it. The Free Informational Seminar provides the perfect opportunity to find out what's involved, meet the team and ask questions. Attend in person or view online.
  2. Provide a documented weight-loss attempt.
    Likely you've dieted many times throughout your life, only to have the lost pounds return – and then some. What have been your attempts in the past year? To qualify for weight-loss surgery, you must be able to show a supervised, documented attempt to lose weight through diet and exercise in the past year. Further documentation may be needed by your particular insurance company.
  3. Contact your insurance provider.
    If you have health insurance, you'll want to make sure your insurance company covers weight-loss surgery and what's involved to ensure coverage. Typically insurance companies require that you meet certain medical indications. Download the Insurance Worksheet to for a list of questions to ask your insurance provider. You'll gain a better understanding of this at the Free Informational Seminar. Know, too, that some patients choose to pay for weight-loss surgery themselves. Sanford's Patient Financial Services can help with financial questions and arrangements.
  4. Complete a nutrition therapy consultation.
    At this appointment, you'll learn about the several nutrition programs available to you. You'll also get help in deciding which program will best suit your needs.
  5. Complete a psychological evaluation.
    You need to be medically appropriate for weight-loss surgery, but also emotionally and mentally ready. At this appointment, you'll meet with a psychologist from the Eating Disorders Institute in Fargo, which is widely recognized for expertise in eating disorders and obesity. The psychologist will visit with you about your eating behaviors, moods, stressors and coping skills. Your commitment and motivation to change lifestyle behaviors and follow guidelines before and after surgery will also be discussed.
  6. Have a consultation with your surgeon.
    After your psychological, nutritional and medical evaluations, you'll meet with the weight-loss surgeon of your choice. You'll learn more about the various surgical options and which procedure will best meet your needs. And of course you'll have the chance to ask questions. Your questions and concerns get top priority in all consultations.
  7. Complete financial arrangements.
    After you have completed all consultations, your surgeon will submit the "request for prior approval" to your insurance company. Please know this process often takes time and will likely require patience on your part. After the approval, your surgery can be scheduled.
  8. Tobacco Cessation.
    If you smoke or use tobaccco, you have one more step. You must completely stop using tobacco for one month before surgery. This is important for the best possible surgical success and healing, as well as long-term success in your new way of life. Your commitment to staying tobacco free for life is essential.

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