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About the Weight Loss Surgery Program 

Surgeons in the Mass General Weight Center are members of a multidisciplinary team of obesity experts who are leading the way in providing individualized consultation and innovative obesity treatment, including state-of-the-art medical and surgical programs.

What Is Bariatric Surgery?

Bariatric surgery, also called weight loss surgery, refers to several types of surgical operations that treat obesity and metabolic diseases related to obesity (diabetes, fatty liver disease, etc.). Bariatric surgery is often recommended when non-surgical weight loss methods have proven unsuccessful in treating the obesity, and when obesity poses a risk to the patient's health.

Bariatric surgery procedures work by modifying the stomach (making it smaller) in order to reduce calorie intake and change how the body absorbs food so that it becomes fuller faster. This modification helps the body to achieve and sustain a healthy weight. Surgery is accompanied by long-term lifestyle changes to ensure that it remains successful.

Many bariatric procedures can be performed using minimally invasive surgical techniques such as laparoscopic and robotic. These advancements allow patients to have a better overall experience with less pain, fewer complications, and a faster recovery.

National Leaders in Weight Loss Surgery

Mass General surgeons perform a high volume of weight loss surgeries and achieve excellent outcomes. Each is a board-certified, Harvard Medical School-affiliated surgeon who specializes in treating patients with complex medical disorders related to obesity, weight disorders, and metabolic disease. According to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 11% of our patients undergoing weight loss surgery had an illness before their surgery categorized as major or extreme, compared with a statewide figure of 2%, which requires advanced training and a highly focused clinical practice.

Mass General is a designated Blue Distinction Center for Bariatric Surgery from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. Blue Distinction Centers are health care facilities recognized for their expertise in delivering specialty care.

Becoming a Patient at the Mass General Weight Center

Care begins with learning more about what our center offers through our new patient orientation, where you will meet with a team of obesity specialists to evaluate your overall health and candidacy for bariatric surgery. Generally, patients must meet the following requirements to be eligible for weight loss surgery:

  • Have a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or higher
  • Have a BMI between 30 and 35 in conjunction with a weight-related comorbidity, such as heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure
  • Have a stable psychological status

In addition to our surgeons, your multidisciplinary team may include obesity medicine specialists, psychologists, and registered dieticians.

Our Weight Loss Surgical Procedures 

Mass General is an accredited member of the American College of Bariatric Surgery Center Network. We offer the following surgical options for appropriate patients seeking weight loss. 

Gastric Sleeve (sleeve gastrectomy)

Gastric sleeve is the most commonly performed bariatric surgery in the U.S. This minimally invasive procedure involves removal of three quarters of the stomach. Ultimately, this helps to make you feel fuller faster, reduce caloric intake at meals, stabilize your metabolism, decrease your appetite, and regulate the blood sugar. 

Learn more about gastric sleeve surgery 

Postoperative Instructions PDF

Gastric Bypass (Roux-en-Y)

Staples are used to divide the stomach into a small stomach pouch and larger remaining section. The small intestine is rerouted to connect to the new pouch and exclude the larger portion of the stomach. This results in a smaller stomach and a shorter digestive path, which reduces the amount of food that can be eaten and the amount of nutrients and calories that can be absorbed by the body. This procedure may be conducted laparoscopically (a minimally invasive approach that requires only small incisions) or as standard open surgery. 

Learn more about gastric bypass surgery 

Postoperative Instructions PDF

Revisional Surgery

This is an option for patients suffering from complications from a previous weight loss surgery. 

Learn more about revisional surgery 

Body Contouring

Board-certified plastic surgeons in the Mass General Body Contouring Program perform procedures to remove excess skin and reshape the body to its desired proportions following weight loss surgery. 

Conditions Treated by Weight Loss Surgery

In addition to sustained loss of excess weight, bariatric surgery may also improve other weight-related conditions, including but not limited to: 

What to Expect for Weight Loss Surgery

Your surgical evaluation begins with a one-on-one new patient orientation led by one of our obesity experts who will explain obesity, the center, and the medical and surgical treatments that best fit your needs. You will then receive a call to schedule an initial evaluation led by a multidisciplinary team including a psychologist, dietician and in some cases, an internist specializing in obesity medicine.

Before Bariatric Surgery

Preparing for weight loss surgery is important, and our program is designed to provide you with the information you will need to succeed in losing weight and in avoiding postoperative complications.

Your insurance company and/or your Weight Center team may require you to attend a three- to six-month pre-surgery program that helps you prepare for surgery both physically and psychologically. Program education is centered on achieving pre-surgery weight loss to reduce surgical risks and prepare for a healthy lifestyle after surgery. This program fulfills the preoperative requirements of several insurance companies and may be recommended or required before surgery can be scheduled.

Studies show that rapid weight loss before bariatric surgery significantly decreases the size of the liver which reduces the risk of complications after surgery. Once surgery is scheduled, patients work with a dietitian to develop an individualized meal replacement plan specifically designed to induce weight loss.

Closer to surgery, you will meet with your team to review your health as well as attend two group nutrition education classes. During these classes, you will be provided with instructions on your postoperative diet and how to prepare for surgery.

After Bariatric Surgery

Our program is designed to prepare you for gastric weight loss surgery and to monitor, guide, and support you postoperatively. The six-month postoperative program is divided into two, three-month phases.

Postoperative Adjustment

During this time, the Weight Center dietitian educates you about the early postoperative changes, including the diet transition from liquids to solid food. The program includes group classes for nutrition education, as well as individual psychology and nutrition visits. Your Weight Center psychologist provides support for necessary behavioral changes.

Lifestyle Modification

During this phase, the group nutrition sessions focus on the changes in nutrition and exercise that are necessary for long-term weight management. These sessions and individual appointments are designed to help you support your commitment to behavior change.

Weight Loss Surgery Cost

All medical and surgical visits are billed to the patient's insurance company. Some components of the program may not be covered by insurance. To learn more about insurance coverage, call 617-726-4400. Weight Center staff are available to answer your questions.

A Multidisciplinary Team Approach to Care

Before and after your surgery, we work with your entire treatment team to design an individualized treatment plan that promotes long-term weight loss. Experts are available for counseling on nutrition, exercise, and behavior modification along with medical management of related diseases.

We also offer pediatric evaluation and treatments for obesity in conjunction with Mass General for Children.

Patient Story

Kim's Successful Weight Loss Surgery

Read Kim's weight loss surgery story

Additional Resources

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Recovery After Gastric Bypass

Recovery After Gastric Bypass

View recommendations for how to ensure a smooth recovery following gastric bypass surgery.

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Recovery After Sleeve Gastrectomy

Recovery After Sleeve Gastrectomy

View recommendations for how to ensure a smooth recovery following sleeve gastrectomy surg

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Video: Why Choose Surgery?

Video: Why Choose Surgery?

Learn more about weight loss surgery.

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Body Contouring Surgery Program

Body Contouring Surgery Program

We offer a wide range of body-contouring procedures.

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TODAY.com: Weight Loss Patient Story

TODAY.com: Weight Loss Patient Story

Read about a patient who underwent gastric bypass surgery at Mass General, as reported on

Weight Loss Surgery Frequently Asked Questions 

How do I make an appointment for bariatric surgery?

Care at the Mass General Weight Center begins with learning more about what our center offers through our new patient orientation, where you will meet with a team of obesity specialists. 

To learn more about bariatric surgery and become a patient, please call us at 617-726-4400. 

Do I qualify for weight loss surgery?

Patients will meet with a Mass General care team to evaluate their overall health and candidacy for bariatric surgery. Generally, patients must meet the following requirements to be eligible for weight loss surgery: 

  • Have a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or higher 
  • Have a BMI between 30 and 35 in conjunction with a weight-related comorbidity, such as heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure 
  • Have a stable psychological status 
How effective is bariatric surgery?

Bariatric surgery is considered to be the most effective treatment for obesity in terms of sustained weight loss and improvement in other obesity-related conditions. The amount of weight you lose depends on the type of bariatric surgery and lifestyle habits following surgery. It is important to keep all scheduled follow-up visits so that your care team can monitor your weight loss. 

The benefits of bariatric surgery include: 

  • An improved quality of life 
  • A reduced risk of other obesity-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease, sleep apnea, and type 2 diabetes 
  • Improved blood pressure 
  • A longer lifespan 
Is bariatric surgery safe?

While any surgical procedure has risks, bariatric surgery has been found to be one of the safest surgeries to undergo in comparison with other elective procedures. The Mass General Weight Center team performs a high volume of weight loss surgeries, which studies have shown relates to lower complication rates and improved outcomes related to quality and safety. 

It is important to discuss any concerns you may have with your bariatric surgery care team. They will review and answer all your questions ahead of surgery. 

When can I expect to return to daily life after weight loss surgery?

Patients generally are able to stand and walk a few hours after surgery and are discharged within one to two days. Avoiding high impact exercise and heavy weight lifting is recommended for at least one month, with an emphasis on listening to your body and resting as needed. Many patients return to work about four weeks after surgery. 

Because of a lower calorie intake, many patients feel a lower energy than usual for a couple of weeks after surgery. Energy tends to elevate after transitioning from a liquid diet to solid foods. 

Will I need plastic surgery after bariatric surgery?

Sudden weight loss can result is loose or sagging skin, either temporary or permanent. The severity of it depends upon several things, including the percentage of weight loss, genetics, and lifestyle habits (i.e., exercise, smoking, etc.). It’s often recommended to allow some time to pass before undergoing plastic surgery. 

Board-certified plastic surgeons in the Mass General Body Contouring Program perform procedures to remove excess skin and reshape the body to its desired proportions following weight loss surgery. 

Will insurance cover bariatric surgery?

Many insurance companies do cover weight loss surgery as long as you meet the qualification requirements. To learn more about insurance coverage, call our Weight Center staff at 617-726-4400.  

High Marks in Surgical Quality

The Mass General Department of Surgery and Codman Center for Clinical Effectiveness have been consistently recognized for meritorious outcomes in surgical patient care from the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP). Hospitals achieve this distinction based on composite quality score in the outcomes in mortality and complications such as cardiac, respiratory, unplanned intubation, ventilator greater than 48 hours, renal failure, surgical site infections and urinary tract infections for all surgery cases. 

This recognition reflects the outstanding performance of the hospital’s surgical teams in providing patient care at many levels. This distinction goes to only approximately 10 percent of the 680 participating hospitals entering data into NSQIP. 

Our Surgical Results

At Mass General, we believe it's important to provide safe and effective care. The Department of Surgery tracks many performance measures and compares them to national data. 

View our surgical outcomes compared to national data