First Steps for Bariatric Surgery

Find the support you need to prepare for successful weight-loss surgery at UNC Medical Center in Chapel Hill or the UNC Hillsborough Campus. Expect to spend six to 12 months completing our process and fulfilling your insurance provider’s requirements before surgery. Lean on our bariatric surgeons and team for personal, expert guidance throughout your journey.

Previous Bariatric Surgery Patient Photo

Bariatric Support Group

Meet your peers, hear first-hand weight-loss surgery stories, and find out what to expect during your journey. Attend free monthly weight-loss surgery support groups in Chapel Hill or Hillsborough. Support group attendance is optional.

Verify Insurance Coverage

You must have health insurance through a private provider that covers bariatric surgery for your situation. Unfortunately UNC Charity Care doesn’t help pay for bariatric surgery at this time.

Call your insurance company and provide the following codes to see if it covers these procedures:

  • Roux-en-Y gastric bypass: CPT 43644
  • Sleeve gastrectomy: CPT 43775

Also, ask what your insurance provider requires you to do before it will cover your weight-loss surgery. Some insurance programs require patients to participate in a supervised bariatric diet and exercise programs with your primary care provider or our bariatric nurse practitioner. After completing this process, ask your primary care provider or our nurse practitioner to send a letter of support [PDF] to your insurance company. Patients with no insurance or UNC Charity Care will not qualify for the Bariatric Surgery Program.

Schedule Initial Visit and Answer Screening Questions

We have options for every step of your journey towards better health. We'll ask you some questions to help build the right solution for you, whether with our surgical team or our non-surgical teams. You may be asked to have a referral sent from your primary care provider before scheduling based on your insurance requirements.

Multidisciplinary Intake Visit

At your first visit, we'll complete an initial medical assessment with a medical weight loss provider to confirm if medical or surgical treatment is best for you. We'll also do some lab work, but you do not need to fast before this visit.

If surgical treatment is the best option, based on insurance requirements, you may continue to work with the medical weight loss team for a period of time to complete some of your pre-surgical requirements.

Pre-Surgical Qualification

Our surgical path starts with an intake clinic appointment with a dietitian and bariatric nurse practitioner at our Hillsborough location to discuss the surgical program requirements. Learn more about our program now by reviewing our guide [PDF]:

Image of cover of A Guide to Surgical Weight Loss clickable link

Complete Your Pre-Surgery Appointments

  • Group Nutrition appointment, with dietitian follow-up 4 weeks after group appointment
  • Psychologist appointment, to help determine if you are emotionally prepared to make lifelong lifestyle changes
  • Additional follow up with the dietitian and/or nurse practitioner as needed; working to ensure that you have or will have the necessary support system around you as you proceed through treatments
  • Additional program visits will be scheduled as needed

Scheduling Surgery

  • If you are a surgical candidate, once all program and insurance requirements have been met, we will submit everything to your insurance company for final approval
  • Upon approval, an appointment with a Bariatric Surgeon will be scheduled for consultation and surgery date
  • Following surgery you will have a post-op visit within two-weeks, as well as follow-up appointments with the dietitian and medical provider at 3 months, 6 months, 18 months and annually for 5 years

Related Locations