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Weight Loss (Bariatric) Surgery

Weight reduction surgery, known as bariatric surgery, is an option for people who are significantly overweight and who have tried unsuccessfully to lose weight by a structured diet program for at least six months. A body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater is usually an indication for the surgery. If you have diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure or sleep apnea, a BMI of 35 is equivalent.


Bariatric Surgery Specialist:

J. Christopher Eagon, MD

Washington University physicians offer two approaches to significant weight loss - nonsurgical guided nutrition based program, and weight loss surgery, described here.

Bariatric surgery is a very serious consideration for anyone, because almost all methods are irreversible. It is a decision that changes your life forever. But for many people, it is a decision that may save their lives.

Surgery is available for  adolescents and adults.

Are You a Candidate?

Although obesity is defined as having a BMI of at least 30 kg/m2, weight loss surgery is generally considered for patients between the ages of 18 and 70 who have a BMI of 40 or greater or a BMI of 35 or more, and having other diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure or sleep apnea. Washington University is a leader in bariatric surgery for adolescents ( 13 to 18).  All prospective patients must also have attempted a structured dietary weight-loss program for at least six months without success. They must be evaluated and approved by a behavioral therapist, dietitian and physical therapist.

Commonly asked questions and answers about bariatric surgery.
Download and submit a screening application to see if you qualify service

Treatment Options

There are various approaches to the surgery, but the basic premise is to reduce the actual size of the stomach and/or reroute digested food through the intestines. This is done by

One of the benefits of the Washington University Bariatric Program is the thoughtful approach to decision making for patients.  Some centers rush patients through the pre surgical process in one day, seeing several professionals in an afternoon.  Because this is a life-changing decision, patients at this center are encouraged to take it slow.  This is why the presurgical appointments are scheduled on different days.  It is a patient benefit to seriously listen to the nutritionist, the psychologist and the physical therapist before making the decision.

Weight loss benefits to patients include a significant and gradual weight loss over 12-18 months. There is almost always a significant reduction in diabetes symptoms and high blood pressure. In some people it is immediate; in others, it may take a few months to achieve. Because there is a link between many types of cancer and excess weight, bariatric surgery can reduce a person’s risk for obesity-related cancers.

For more details about benefits and risks of bariatric surgery, click here.


Several years ago, weight reduction surgery was offered across the United States by surgeons without specific training or certification. This resulted in unpleasant results for many patients. For this reason, the American Society for Bariatric Surgery stepped up to review and certify surgeons and hospitals as Bariatric Center of Excellence. There are three certified centers in the St. Louis area. If you are considering bariatric surgery, visit Bariatric Centers of Excellence .

Washington University Bariatric Surgery is provided by Dr. J. Christopher Eagon board-certified expert in minimally invasive gastric surgery. He has performed  hundreds of such surgeries at Barnes-Jewish Hospital or Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital. Of particular note, is the full service, dedicated surgery team. Each patient has access to the surgeon, a nurse practitioner, a bariatric nurse coordinator, a dietitian, a physical therapist and a behavior counselor. Washington University bariatric program also offers ongoing support groups and educational activities.

Health Plan Coverage

Many health care plans pay for the surgery; often Medicare covers the cost as well.
As mentioned, bariatric surgery requires a shift in your behavior and thinking about food. Everyone needs emotional support – and you will receive it - from the professionals at Washington University and other patients who have experienced the surgery.

For More Information- in Person

Free seminars are held monthly so you can learn about the surgery and meet the surgeons. For an appointment, to sign up for the intro class or to answer any questions, call 314-454-8877.

For More Information - on the web

For more information, forms  and instructions on pre and post surgery requirements, please visit the weight loss surgery information at the weight loss surgery web site.

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Copyright 2015 Washington University School of Medicine
Copyright 2015 Washington University School of Medicine