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Covid-19 (Coronavirus): For information related to COVID-19, visit vcuhealth.org/covid-19. For information specific to children and families, visit Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Free informational seminars are available online

Register for a seminar and watch online

Register to watch our free weight loss surgery seminar online. 

Join our team members as they explain the health risks related to obesity, when to consider weight loss surgery and much more. Call us at (804) 827-0045 or email helpforobesity@vcuhealth.org if you have any questions.

In-person seminars

In-person seminars are currently not offered due to the public health emergency related to COVID-19. Please check back later for updates. 

Once in-person seminars are offered again, may I bring a guest with me?

Yes, we strongly encourage people to bring a friend or family member with them. They do not need to register.

Can I attend the seminar on behalf of someone else?

Yes, you can also attend a seminar on the behalf of someone else to collect information. However, you will need to use your own name when you register for the seminar.

Am I able to meet with the surgeon during the seminar?

Our Bariatric Program Coordinator, Victoria Sulanke, MS, RN, teaches all of our in-person seminars. Feel free to learn about all of our providers and surgeons

While I'm at the seminar, may I schedule a consultation with the surgeon?

Absolutely! Victoria can schedule you for an appointment following the seminar. If you attend one of our free informational seminars and later decide that you would like to set up a consultation, please call us at (804) 827-0045 or email us at helpforobesity@vcuhealth.org so we can schedule a consultation with the surgeon. 

Do I need to bring anything to the seminar? Are there forms to fill out? 

No, but we do ask that you register in advance. Please call (804) 827-0045 or email helpforobesity@vcuhealth.org.

How long is the free informational seminar? 

Our seminars are one hour and 30 minutes for the presentation and 30 minutes for the Q&A portion. 

Weight loss surgery and insurance information

How do I know if my insurance covers this surgery?

Most insurance companies recognize obesity as a serious health issue and will cover the procedure, any complications and follow-up appointments. However, not all insurance companies offer the same coverage, so you will need to talk to your insurance provider for your specific policy coverage. 

What if my insurance does not cover weight loss surgery?

We offer competitive self-pay plans for weight loss surgery. Self-pay patients are required to pay at the time of service. Weight loss surgery is a health expense that may be tax deductible. If you are not able to afford the procedure, we offer other non-surgical options to assist you with your weight loss goals.

Will I have a copay?

Insurance companies and their various plans offer different levels of coverage and their requirements differ too. We suggest that you reach out to your insurance provider to understand your specific policy coverage and what to expect for copays. 

Do you provide financial assistance for self-pay/uninsured?

If you don't have health insurance and have limited financial resources, please contact our Financial Screening Department at (804) 828-0966 to determine eligibility before scheduling a clinic appointment. Once the financial counselors receive all the required information, it may take six to eight weeks for completion of the process and a decision.

What is a primary care provider letter?

All insurance requires this type of letter from either your surgeon or primary care provider before final approval for surgery. Many will just accept your surgeon’s consultation summary note. It is best to ask your insurer directly. Most companies want information pertaining to current weight, height, body mass index, the medical problems related to obesity, your past diet attempt history and why the physician feels it is medically necessary for you to have bariatric surgery. We will provide a sample letter of necessity for you to take to your primary care physician for him/her to sign.

If I do not meet the qualifications for the surgery, what can I do?

If you are not a candidate for weight loss surgery, please schedule an appointment with our medical weight loss team by calling (804) 828-9357

Consultation information

What should I expect at my initial consultation?

Our goals at your consultation include:

  • Introducing you to the surgical weight loss team 
  • Learning information regarding your height, weight, history, medical co-morbidities (medical conditions caused by obesity), previous surgeries, etc. in order to determine whether you qualify for surgery 
  • Helping you determine which surgery is appropriate for you 
  • Determining if there is a need for further evaluation prior to surgery (sleep study, cardiac evaluation, etc.) 
  • Evaluate your dietary needs

How long is the initial consultation?

Every patient is unique. Initial consultations last up to 30 minutes depending on your medical condition(s).

What do I need to bring? 

Please bring your current insurance information, a photo ID and a list of all medications you are taking, including any over-the-counter medications. 

When you arrive, please make sure to inform the front desk staff of any changes to your address, phone number and all other contact information.  

For more information, visit the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery site and/or visit the ASMBS FAQ page

What to expect after your consultation:

You have had your initial consultation. Now what?

During your first appointment, your provider will outline specific requirements you need to meet in order to be eligible for surgery. This includes appointments with a health psychologist, supervised diet visits and additional appointments depending on any medical conditions. Within the week after your consultation, you will receive a phone call from our administrative staff to walk you through your bariatric surgery plan and help schedule your appointments. 

When will I have my surgery?

Every patient is different and has unique needs. The process before surgery can go quickly as long as all of your surgeon’s requirements are met. Most insurances require six months of supervised diet visits prior to surgery. Without these consecutive visits, your path to surgery may be delayed. Our team will ensure you complete the required number of diet visits to accomplish your weight loss goals.

My doctor told me I am ready for surgery. What’s next?

Congratulations! You are about to change your life! Our administrative staff will now gather the necessary documentation to be submitted to your insurance company for approval. Approval for surgery can take anywhere from two to four weeks. As soon as we receive approval from your insurance company, we will contact you with a date of surgery. We will also schedule you for your pre-operative class, PACE and COVID testing, and all of your post-operative visits.