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Weight Loss Surgery

Weight loss surgery is
an effective treatment

Many people struggle with weight loss on a daily basis. But if the effort to lose weight is beyond what you can manage, Cookeville Regional’s bariatric weight loss team can help.

Bariatric surgery helps you to lose weight by reducing the size of your stomach and changing how your body absorbs nutrients. Your appetite decreases and your stomach gets fuller with less food.

Under the leadership of bariatric surgeon Dr. Charles Huddleston, Cookeville Regional’s bariatric weight loss program is accredited as a Comprehensive Center under the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP), a joint program of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS).

Key professionals involved with each patient undergoing weight loss surgery include the bariatric surgeon, a dietitian and a mental health professional.

We provide the services of two surgeons, Dr. Charles Huddleston and Dr. Jeffrey McCarter — who are both trained in bariatric surgery — as well as highly trained nurses, dietitians and other support staff members who will support and guide you before, during and after your surgery.

Losing weight is sometimes not easy, and neither is keeping it off. We understand that challenge and want to help patients who need the surgical option to help them move forward to a more healthy and active life.

It takes courage to go the next step, but you’ve got this. And we’ll be right by your side every step of the way.

Contact Us

Middle Tennessee Surgical Specialists

203 N. Cedar Ave.
Cookeville, TN 38501

What we offer

Cookeville Regional currently provides the following procedures to aid in weight loss (bariatric surgery):

  • Gastric banding (lap band)
  • Vertical sleeve gastrectomy
  • Roux-en-Y gastric bypass

Gastric banding, or lap band surgery, is done laparoscopically. It requires an implanted medical device and has the lowest rate of complications among the weight loss procedures.

The vertical sleeve gastrectomy is also a laparoscopic procedure and may be an option for carefully selected patients, including high-risk or really obese patients. Unlike the gastric banding procedure, there is no implanted device.

The Roux-en-Y gastric bypass is the most frequently performed bariatric procedure and is done laparoscopically. There is no implanted medical device, and the procedure has a low rate of complications.

Remember, each procedure requires a strict diet and recovery takes time and patience.

We are here to help you! The surgeon’s office staff will assist you on your first visit. To make an appointment to discuss surgery options, call 931-528-1992.

Things to Consider

Being medically eligible for surgical weight loss is just the beginning of your weight loss journey. Before your surgery date is scheduled, you must demonstrate a willingness to make changes in lifestyle, dietary habits, and exercise. But don’t stress: Your care team is with you every step of the way.

You should be aware:

  • Smoking cessation. Nicotine use is directly related to poor surgical outcomes. You will not be scheduled for surgery until you have been nicotine free for at least 90 days with intent to stay nicotine free.
  • Alcohol consumption. In addition to being a source of extra calories, alcohol can have greater negative impacts on your health after surgery. We recommend avoiding alcohol to maximize the benefits of your operation.

Take time to study all of the options and talk with your physician and surgeon. The procedure that is best for you will be based on several considerations, such as age, health risk, amount weight loss needed, lifestyle and eating behaviors. Then a mutual decision will be made between you and your bariatric surgeon. Be sure to discuss your plans with family and friends to get their feedback and gain their support.

Bariatric surgery can help change your life, but remember, it is a tool that requires your strong commitment to a lifestyle change and a lifetime of follow-up.


In general, bariatric surgery could be an option for you if:

  • Your body mass index (BMI) is 40 or higher (extreme obesity).
  • Your BMI is 35 to 39.9 (obesity), and you have a serious weight-related health problem, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or severe sleep apnea. In some cases, you may qualify for certain types of weight-loss surgery if your BMI is 30 to 34 and you have serious weight-related health problems.

Bariatric surgery isn’t for everyone who is severely overweight. You may need to meet certain medical guidelines to qualify for weight-loss surgery. You likely will have an extensive screening process to see if you qualify. You must also be willing to make permanent changes to lead a healthier lifestyle.

You may be required to participate in long-term follow-up plans that include monitoring your nutrition, your lifestyle and behavior, and your medical conditions.

And keep in mind that bariatric surgery is expensive so check with your insurance plan to see if it is covered.


As with any major procedure, bariatric surgery poses potential health risks, both in the short term and long term.

Risks associated with the surgical procedure can include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Infection
  • Adverse reactions to anesthesia
  • Blood clots
  • Lung or breathing problems
  • Leaks in your gastrointestinal system
  • Death (rare)

Longer term risks and complications of weight-loss surgery vary depending on the type of surgery. They can include:

  • Bowel obstruction
  • Dumping syndrome, which leads to diarrhea, flushing, lightheadedness, nausea or vomiting
  • Gallstones
  • Hernias
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
  • Malnutrition
  • Ulcers
  • Vomiting
  • Acid reflux
  • The need for a second, or revision, surgery or procedure
  • Death (rare)

Preparing for surgery

If you qualify for bariatric surgery, your health care team gives you instructions on how to prepare for your specific type of surgery. You may need to have various lab tests and exams before surgery. You may have restrictions on eating and drinking and which medications you can take. You may be required to start a physical activity program and to stop any tobacco use.

You may also need to prepare by planning ahead for your recovery after surgery. For instance, arrange for help at home if you think you’ll need it.

What you can expect

Bariatric surgery is done in the hospital using general anesthesia. This means you’re unconscious during the procedure.

The specifics of your surgery depend on your individual situation, the type of weight-loss surgery you have, and the hospital’s or doctor’s practices. Some weight-loss surgeries are done with traditional large, or open, incisions in your abdomen.

Today, most types of bariatric surgery are performed laparoscopically. A laparoscope is a small, tubular instrument with a camera attached. The laparoscope is inserted through small incisions in the abdomen. The tiny camera on the tip of the laparoscope allows the surgeon to see and operate inside your abdomen without making the traditional large incisions. Laparoscopic surgery can make your recovery faster and shorter, but it’s not suitable for everyone.

Surgery usually takes several hours. After surgery, you awaken in a recovery room, where medical staff monitors you for any complications. Depending on your procedure, you may need to stay a few days in the hospital.

Educational seminars and support groups

Informational seminars
Cookeville Regional hosts a monthly information session for individuals considering weight loss surgery. The session is presented by bariatric surgeon Dr. Jeffrey McCarter of Middle Tennessee Surgical Specialists.

The hour-long seminar covers obesity, types of surgery, expectations of each surgery, the cost of obesity and next steps in considering surgery. If you are considering weight loss surgery, this seminar will provide information for you as well as your family and/or friends to help you make a decision about what is best for you.

Seminars are held once a month in Cookeville Regional’s Education Center. For seminar dates and registration, please call 931-528-1992.

Support group meetings

A Facebook support group has been created for patients who have been through bariatric surgery. Join the group here:

If you would like to meet in-person, group meetings are held every third Monday at 6 p.m. in Cookeville Regional’s Education Center. For more information, call Beth Watts at 783-2023 .