Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Our office is located at 6422 E Speedway Blvd, Suite #150, Tucson AZ 85710. Get directions here. We primarily serve individuals in Tucson, AZ, but also have many patients from Phoenix and throughout the Southwest. We have a very active telemedicine program that allows people to visit with Dr. Weiner and the rest of our team from anywhere! Our non-surgical weight loss program currently serves Arizona, Michigan, and New York with California and Florida coming on board soon.
Around 95% of all insurance plans provide coverage for Bariatric Surgery. After your first visit with Dr. Weiner, we will review your insurance policy to confirm that you do have coverage. We accept most insurance plans, including ACCCHS. For those that do not have insurance coverage for Bariatric Surgery, we have very fairly priced self-pay options.
There are many steps to obtaining insurance authorization for Bariatric Surgery and it can seem complicated at first. Our team is extremely knowledgeable and will get you through the process smoothly.
Dr. Weiner offers gastric bypass surgery and Sleeve Gastrectomy procedures as well as revision (reoperative) surgery (procedures that correct or improve your prior surgery). He also performs laparoscopic surgery and hernia repair. For all surgeries, Dr. Weiner and his team offer pre, during, and post -operative care. To find out if you’re a candidate, please fill out our form here >
Dr. Weiner recommends taking two weeks off after sleeve gastrectomy and three weeks off after gastric bypass surgery to ensure a smooth transition back to work. Many patients are eager to get back to work sooner and this is often possible. To discuss your scheduling needs, please contact our team here >
In the lead-up to surgery, all patients are required to follow a one-week liquid diet to help shrink the liver and make the surgery safer.
Our postoperative support program is truly exceptional. In addition to regular follow up with Dr. Weiner and his team, we offer unlimited group nutritional sessions over zoom, grocery store tours for our local patients, and automatic enrollment into our non-surgical weight loss program with Claire after you are one year out from surgery. We are in this with you for the long haul!
Around 25% of all Sleeve Gastrectomy patients and 10% of all Gastric Bypass patients will regain half of the weight that they lost after surgery. The reasons for this are complicated and not just a simple matter of someone “stretching out” their pouch because they ate too much.
First, weight regain after Bariatric Surgery is far less common than what we see when the weight is lost through strict diet and exercising. Second, our program is very aggressive in treating weight regain and we offer a comprehensive program that is very effective in minimizing weight regain, and helping you lose weight again. Unfortunately, Bariatric Surgery doesn’t allow you to never have to struggle with your weight again, it just makes your struggles much more successful.
Of course, we recommend the Pound of Cure Weight Loss Program based on Dr. Weiner’s book by the same name. The Pound of Cure Weight Loss Program is based on eating lots of really healthy, nutritional foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and beans and minimizing refined and processed foods. We don’t recommend this diet right after surgery because initially, you’re limited in your ability to eat solid foods. Slowly, over the first year after surgery, you transition from a protein first eating plan to the Pound of Cure produce first eating plan.
Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of insurance plans do not cover visits with a dietitain for weight loss. Our program uses online group sessions, held over Zoom to keep the costs low (our memberships start at $5/month). Learn more about those here >
We recommend a minimum of 60 grams of protein every day after surgery, and ideally, 80 grams a day. Initially, you will only be able to meet this goal by using protein shakes. Over time, our goal is for you to meet your protein requirements through healthy food choices, not protein shakes. Around 6 months to a year after surgery, we have most patients stop counting protein and start counting vegetables!
Because the Pound of Cure Weight Loss Program focuses as much on what you eat as what you don’t eat, many people find it much easier to follow than other diets. Also, if you don’t follow the diet perfectly, it’s much more forgiving than other diets (like Keto) which cause lots of weight gain whenever you stray even the slightest bit from the plan.
Yes, but you will quickly figure out that eating a pound of vegetables is not that hard and will help decrease your cravings for processed foods. One large salad typically weighs a pound – most people can eat one pound of vegetables in one meal (even post weight loss surgery patients!)
There are many reasons why people can’t lose weight. Often there is a medical cause like medications (the most common cause), genetics, stress or depression, or inadequate sleep. We also have a quiz that will analyze your diet and give you feedback on where you might be going wrong [put in link to diet quiz]. For those that can’t figure out why they aren’t losing weight, they can make an appointment in our non-surgical program [link] to undergo a complete medical evaluation.
Yes! The Pound of Cure Weight Loss Program focuses on eating lots of healthy, nutritious food and avoiding weight loss through starvation or ketosis which almost always results in weight regain. The Pound of Cure Weight Loss Program can mimic some of the hormonal changes that occur after Bariatric Surgery.
While artificial sweeteners don’t have calories, they can cause significant metabolic changes. They can increase your cravings for sweet foods and limit your body’s ability to respond appropriately to natural sugars like those found in fruit. In general, they should be avoided as much as possible.
This answer completely depends on your insurance plan. If you have a Medicare, Medicaid, or ACCCHS plan, it’s very likely that you won’t have to pay anything for your surgery. If you have a commercial insurance plan like Blue Cross, Cigna, United, or Aetna, you will likely reach your maximum out-of-pocket expenses for the year. You should contact your insurance company and ask how much you’ve already contributed this year and what your maximum out-of-pocket expenses are. The difference between these two numbers makes up your expected costs for surgery (Our practice and the hospital will allow for payment plans).
The initial visit costs $300, but if you proceed with surgery, this will go toward the total cost of surgery. This essentially means that your initial visit will be free if you proceed with surgery.
All of our patients are required to participate in our nutrition program [link] prior to surgery which typically costs between $13-$30 per month depending on which membership plan you choose. Most patients participate in this program for a minimum of 3 months after surgery, but many find it useful for much longer. All patients are also required to take Bariatric vitamins after surgery which typically cost $20-$30 per month. Finally, our VLCD diet costs $65 for the protein powder for the week, but you will have very few other food costs that week, so many patients find they actually spend less on food the week of their VLCD diet.
Almost all insurance companies require a period of supervised weight loss which typically spans from 2 to 6 months. This will be performed by Deidre, Dr. Weiner’s Nurse Practitioner or Claire, who runs the non-surgical weight loss program. A psychological evaluation is often required, along with an upper endoscopy, blood work, and clearance by a cardiologist.
Yes, our prices include your surgeon fee, hospital stay, medical evaluation while in the hospital, and anesthesia fees.
All medical visits with our PA, Claire, are covered by your insurance. Our nutrition counseling program with our RD, Zoe, has a tiered pricing plan depending on your specific needs, ranging from $5/month to $45/month. You can upgrade, downgrade or cancel at any time.
Rather than tedious calorie counting or boring meal replacements, we focus on helping you make gradual, sustainable changes in your nutrition, working toward increasing your intake of delicious, real foods. Our dietary approach is based on Dr. Weiner’s Metabolic Reset Diet from his book, A Pound of Cure, and is designed to lower your set point for weight to promote durable, sustainable results.
GLP-1’s (like semaglutide) are weight loss medications that work to lower your set point. Research shows that, while lifestyle changes are vital for successful weight loss, nutrition and exercise alone are rarely enough to overcome the long-term hormonal changes that drive weight regain in the long-term. This is why we utilize a targeted class of medications called GLP-1s which work by correcting these frustrating hormonal and metabolic shifts so that you can finally experience long-term success on your weight loss journey. And, unlike older weight loss medications GLP-1s are safe for long-term use and can even improve other aspects of your health including blood sugar regulation, heart health and inflammation! If you are not a candidate for GLP-1s, we also offer other effective medication options, depending on your individual needs and medical history.
Liraglutide – low dose for diabetes (Victoza) – taken by injection daily
Liraglutide – high dose for weight loss (Saxenda) – taken by injection daily
Semaglutide – low dose injection for diabetes (Ozempic), taken by injection weekly
Semaglutide – low dose pill for diabetes (Rybelsus), taken by mouth once daily
Semaglutide – high dose injection for weight loss (Wegovy), taken by injection weekly
Dulaglutide (Trulicity), taken by injection weekly
Exenatide (Byetta), taken by injection twice daily
Exenatide extended release (Bydureon), taken by injection weekly
Lixisenatide (Adlyxin), taken by injection daily
Semaglutide costs can be very expensive when purchased outright, especially Wegovy, the weight loss dose (>$1,000 per month). It is being covered by more and more insurance companies and our program will help you obtain insurance coverage if possible. Sometimes, the lower-dose diabetic version of these medication can be used off-label for weight loss at a lower cost.
Yes! We know you lead a busy life and want to make your visits convenient for you which is why we offer the choice of either telehealth and in-person visits.
Typically, patients follow up every 2 weeks when they first start the program and then move to less frequent visits as they feel more comfortable on the program, usually after a few months. The nutritional program is self-paced and you can take as few or as many classes as you would like each month. The on-demand content is available to view 24/7 and live sessions are offered multiple times per week to fit your schedule!
Our non-surgical weight loss program (Pound of Cure Weight Loss Program) is currently offered throughout Arizona and we are coming soon to serve patients in Michigan, Florida, California, Texas and New York. If the non-surgical program is not yet available in your state, you can still sign up for our nutrition counseling program which is currently offered nationwide.
Even with just a modest weight reduction, you can expect the following benefits: Increased mobility and decreased joint pain, improved blood pressure and cholesterol values, improvement in diabetes and prediabetes, improvement in sleep apnea and quality of sleep, reduced need for medications, and improved overall quality of life.
Every case is different since our bodies and medical histories are different. There is no way to safely guarantee that you are a candidate for bariatric surgery without a proper exam from a bariatric surgeon. There are, however, guidelines and clues that can aid in determining whether you should seek an exam. They are as follows:
- Established effort to lose weight with proper diet and exercise has been unsuccessful.
- A Body Mass Index, (or BMI) of 40 or higher.
- A BMI of 35 to 40 associated with a medical condition, or comorbidity such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or sleep apnea or a family history of obesity.
Laparoscopic or “minimally invasive” surgery is a specialized technique for performing surgery. Rather than opening a large portion of the abdomen, a Laparoscopic surgeon makes several very small incisions in the abdominal wall, usually ½-1cm in length. Thin hollow tubes are then inserted into the incisions and carbon dioxide is used to expand the belly from the inside. A tiny camera is also inserted into one of the tubes and projects a picture of the inside of the abdomen to a television monitor. The surgeon uses that camera image to perform the surgery without needing to be physically inside the abdomen.
The smaller incisions means the procedure is less invasive to patients. It allows for a faster recovery, less scar tissue, less pain, quicker return to normal activities, fewer organ complications, and a better operative experience.
The sleeve gastrectomy involves removing about 80% of the stomach and reshaping the remaining 20% into something that looks like a shirt sleeve. What remains of the stomach is a narrow tube or sleeve, which connects to the intestines.
While most people look at the sleeve gastrectomy as a surgery that works primarily by reducing your ability to eat large portions, its primary effectiveness is through hormonal changes. Those hormonal changes are the driving force of weight loss.
Because the stomach is removed completely, this surgery is irreversible. Many patients have downplayed the sleeve as a minor surgery, but the removal of 80% of your stomach should not be taken lightly. Even though a sleeve gastrectomy can be performed extremely safely with only a 1-2% serious complication rate, it is not a minor surgery.
The gastric bypass operation divides the stomach into two parts and reroutes the intestines from a straight line into a “Y” shape. Of the two upper limbs of the “Y,” one contains the food that you eat while the other houses the digestive enzymes.
The first part of the stomach, (referred to as the pouch) is approximately the size of a thumb and connects to the top part of one limb of the “Y.” The second part, (referred to as the gastric remnant) connects to the other limb of the “Y” and sits inside your abdomen continuing to make acid and digestive hormones. At the crotch of the “Y,” the two limbs come together and the food mixes with the enzymes.
This delay in mixing the food with enzymes changes the way food is broken down in your intestines and induces a very favorable change in your body’s hormonal state that triggers your brain into burning off your fat stores.
Gastric balloons are an alternative to bariatric surgery for people with a lower BMI. The gastric balloon is inserted endoscopically while the patient is under anesthesia. The balloon is then filled with saline to enlarge the balloon inside the stomach. It is kept in the stomach for 6 months and then removed endoscopically. On average, patients who receive the balloon procedure lose 20-50 pounds.
Serious surgical complications is very uncommon and is only a major concern for patients who are at high risk for surgery due to advanced age, a heart condition, severe diabetes or limited mobility. The risk of serious complications runs between 1-3% for most patients. These complications are typically straightforward problems that can be very frightening, but is rarely life threatening. Complications can include:
- Heartburn/ Gerd
- Iron Deficiency
- Bowel Obstruction/ Internal Hernia
- Marginal Ulcers
- Hair Loss
- Taste Changes
The vast majority of patients undergoing bariatric surgery will spend one night in the hospital.
Most patients undergoing bariatric surgery will experience minor pain but not enough to require them to take pain medication. Those who require medication say they use it for an average of 3-4 days.
Most patients feel ready to return to normal activities, including work, within one week.
Depending on insurance coverage, the process typically takes between 3-6 months.
Yes! We are fortunate to be partnering with the Tucson Medical Center to provide a single, inclusive price package.
- Anesthesia fees
- Surgeon fees
- Hospital fees, including 1 night stay
- Follow-up care for 30 days after surgery
- 90 days of nutritional support
- Preoperative blood tests and EKG
Package prices by surgery:
- Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy: $14,500
- Roux En Y Gastric Bypass: $17,200
Your diet will change before bariatric surgery and continue to change after the surgery. Before the surgery you will be required to participate in a pre-op diet that will help prepare your body and organs for surgery. Immediately after surgery you will be placed on a liquid diet. That is followed by soft foods and eventually you will transition to regular whole foods again.
Definitely! We consider nutrition to be one of the most important components of weight loss success.
Absolutely! Whether you are interested in revision or our non-surgical weight loss program, we welcome you.
Yes! In fact, your fertility can increase due to the weight loss after surgery.
Yes! Which vitamins you take and for how long you take them is determined by the surgery you elect to have and your nutritional progress after surgery. At Tucson Weight Loss Surgery, we recommend Bariatric Advantage to our patients.
Yes! In addition to the sleeve gastrectomy, gastric bypass, and gastric balloon, our practice also offers the following surgeries:
- Hernia (ventral, inguinal, hiatal, and umbilical)
- Nissen Fundoplication
Our team is with you for every step, including the first one
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Have questions? Not sure? Talk to our friendly team at (520)420-1000