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Weight & Wellness Program

Our Mission is Your Success!

Our mission is to provide support to those committed to a healthier lifestyle and improved quality of life through medical and surgical treatment of obesity. When all other methods of weight loss have failed, surgery may be the best option. Bariatric surgery, or weight loss surgery, has proven effective for reducing obesity.

Losing weight provides numerous benefits for physical, mental and emotional well-being. A healthy weight enables a more active lifestyle, and can also be effective in treating conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, cardiovascular disease and arthritis. Many people look forward to the days ahead when traveling becomes more comfortable, enjoying active time with children becomes more physically possible and feeling better overall becomes a daily experience of joy. 

Patients need to meet specific qualifications regarding weight, Body Mass Index (BMI), and health issues to be eligible for these procedures.

The CHI St. Alexius Health Weight and Wellness Program

Losing weight through bariatric procedures involves more than surgery. It requires changing your life by changing your lifestyle. That's why Dr. Brandon Helbling and CHI St. Alexius Health have partnered to form the CHI St. Alexius Weight and Wellness Program, the most comprehensive weight loss surgery program this region has to offer.

In addition to our experienced, board-certified surgeon, our complete bariatric services include experts in weight management and health optimization, along with streamlined, simple to access education and supportive post-operative programs designed with you AND your busy lifestyle in mind.

We work with you and your primary care provider every step of the way to ensure that your care is tailored to your individual needs and to help you achieve optimized results.

Get Connected With Us

Dr. Brandon Helbling and the CHI St. Alexius Weight and Wellness team are here for you when you are ready to learn if you are a candidate for weight loss surgery. Call (701) 530-3142 for more information.

Procedures offered include the Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass, Sleeve Gastrectomy, and revisions/conversions of bariatric procedures when other efforts have failed. Insurance and eligibility can be discussed with our team.

Dr. Helbling’s team is located at the CHI St Alexius Bariatric and General Surgery Clinic, located in the Medical Arts Building at 810 East Rosser Ave, Bismarck, ND 58501.

Who We Are

The CHI St. Alexius Weight and Wellness team is dedicated to your weight loss success. Providing over 15 years of bariatric surgery, Dr Helbling’s surgical expertise is supported by knowledgeable Nurse Practitioners, our mental health providers, registered nurses, licensed registered dietitian coordinator and support staff from CHI St. Alexius Health.  You can count on excellence and experience Humankindness with our team.

Bariatric Surgeon

Brandon Helbling, MD, FACS, FASMBS 

Nurse Practitioners 

Cortney Kahl, NP 

Nicole Nordstrom, NP

Bariatric Nurse

Kimberlee B., RN

(701) 530-3142 

Additional Support

Licensed Registered Dietitian Support

(701) 530-3142 

Mental Health Providers at Archway 

Sara Horner, PsyD

Long-Term Lifestyle and Health Support at Archway

Diane Nelson, MD

Bariatric Coordinator and Certified Bariatric Support Group Leader

Jessica Miller, RN, BSN

(701) 530-5189 or (800) 222-4036 ext. 5189


Obesity: A life-long, progressive, life threatening, genetically-related, costly, multifactorial disease of excess fat storage with multiple comorbidities (obesity related health conditions).

Magnitude of the Problem 

  • 65% of Americans are overweight 
  • 6 to 10 million Americans are more than 100 pounds overweight
  • It can reduce a person's life expectancy by 20 years
  • It is the second leading cause of preventable death in America killing 300,000 annually

Morbid Obesity: Clinically severe obesity at which point serious medical conditions occur as a direct result of the obesity (defined as greater than 200% of ideal weight, greater than 100 pounds overweight, or a body mass index greater than or equal to 40).

Obesity-Related Comorbidities:

  • Adult Onset Type II Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Cardiac disease
  • Cancer
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Fatigue
  • Fatty Liver
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Hernia
  • Hyperlipidemia
  • Hypertension
  • Infertility problems
  • Menstrual irregularity
  • Premature death
  • Respiratory disease (sleep apnea)
  • Stress Incontinence
  • Venous Insufficiency

BMI is calculated as follows: weight (in pounds) / height (in inches) 2 x 703

To calculate your Body Mass Index, visit CDC-Body Mass Index.

BMI calculation table

Procedures & Programs

As the most researched and for many, many years has been considered the "gold standard" in bariatric treatment, gastric bypass is routinely performed laparoscopically, which is minimally invasive.  As an added benefit, Dr. Helbling performs his laparoscopic procedures with the support of a surgical robot.  A robot is simply a tool that allows the surgeon's technique to be performed with sometimes smaller incisions, more dexterity and possibly less pain than with traditional laparoscopic instrumentation. 

The procedure involves the cutting and stapling of the stomach and bowel, along with a bypass of a portion of the digestive tract.

The initial weight loss is rapid. Good long term weight loss is achieved through a combination of restriction of food intake capacity and a reduction of food absorption. Best results involve healthy lifestyle choices such as regular physical activity, commitment to our support and discussion group and planning  balanced daily nourishment. As with any of our bariatric procedures, follow-up with the Weight and Wellness Program and your primary care provider will help ensure that your nutritional and general health status can be optimized.

This procedure reduces the stomach's volume and also eliminates the part of the stomach that produces the hormone that stimulates hunger. Approximately 85 percent of the stomach is removed, with the remaining stomach volume measuring around 2 to 5 ounces. Other than the reduction in volume, the stomach tends to function normally, so most foods can be consumed, but in small amounts. As an added benefit, Dr Helbling performs his laparoscopic procedures with the support of a surgical robot.  A robot is simply a tool that allows the surgeon's technique to be performed with sometimes smaller incisions, more dexterity and possibly less pain than with traditional laparoscopic instrumentation.

Because this procedure doesn't involve intestinal bypass, it's a good option for people with existing conditions such as anemia or Crohn's disease. It can be performed laparoscopically on most patients, even those with a high BMI. After the initial weight loss, patients on the higher end of the BMI scale may need a second-stage procedure to lose the remaining weight. As with the gastric bypass, best results for Sleeve gastrectomy patients include healthy lifestyle choices such as regular physical activity, commitment to our support and discussion group and planning  balanced daily nourishment.  Follow-up with the Weight and Wellness Program and your primary care provider will help ensure that your nutritional and general health status are optimized as you discover a healthier and more energetic you!

All of the surgeries offered by our program require lifestyle and behavior changes in the area of nutrition and physical activity. Bariatric surgery will help force you to make some behavior changes, but other changes will require a conscious effort on your part. Our team will help you determine which changes you will need to make as well as offer tips and suggestions to help you maximize your weight loss. 

In addition to meeting in person with our experienced Dietitian, you will receive pre-operative nutrition materials with the convenience of computer & smart phone accessibility.  This method allows you the opportunity to learn from the materials when it is convenient for you.  The information provided will explain the pre and post-surgery diet which identifies what foods are allowed during that time, and which foods to avoid. The post-operative diet progression, supplements that you must take to optimize your health, and the basics of what your regular diet will eventually look like will all be discussed throughout the nutrition visits and materials.

Post-operatively, you will have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with a licensed registered dietitian. You will receive helpful notes, recipes, nutrition highlights and exercises. We will discuss calorie and protein needs, meal planning, dining out, food logs, exercise, and behavior modification strategies. The goal of our post-op nutrition program is to provide you with all of the tools and information you need to be successful with long-term weight loss and weight management following surgery.

Is weight loss surgery reversible?

Gastric Bypass - No
Lap Band - Yes
Sleeve Gastrectomy - No

Is there guaranteed success?

No. These surgeries can be defeated by falling back into old patterns.  It is a very good idea to enlist a mental health professional during this time, to support changing behaviors and to work through any challenging personal life experiences or habits that may get in the way.

Will you take my gallbladder out when you do my surgery?

No. We do not remove healthy gallbladders. If you have evidence of stones or disease it will be removed.

What are the age limits for these surgeries?

18 is the youngest. Patients as old as 65 have had these surgeries, however, all patients are individually considered.

When can I go back to work?

Returning to work may be possible around 2 weeks, but actual time away from work will be based on your individual recovery, the procedure that has been completed and the type of work you do.

When can I drive?

When off of sedating or opioid pain medication.

When can I exercise?

Walking is recommended in moderation immediately after surgery. 4-6 weeks for more intense exercise depending on which surgery you choose.

Can I drink alcohol?

We don't encourage alcohol consumption due to carbonation, it’s non-nutritive calories and risk of impairment after weight loss surgery.

Am I going to have loose skin after I lose weight?

Probably. Reconstructive surgery may be an option for people who experience an excessive amount of loose skin.  You may consider asking your insurance provider whether there is any coverage for skin removal after bariatric surgery.

Eligibility & Insurance

Do I qualify for weight loss surgery?

To qualify for surgery, typically a person must be at least 100 pounds overweight and have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater, or have a BMI of 35 or greater with medical conditions related to obesity, such as diabetes, hypertension or arthritis.

Qualifying for surgery is a thorough process, with patients receiving a number of health assessments. Attendance through all of the education elements is mandatory.

Will my insurance company pay for weight loss surgery?

If you are considering weight loss surgery, it is extremely important that you first check with your insurance company regarding eligibility and to determine if there are any exclusions in your policy. It is a good idea to have your Body Mass Index (BMI) calculated before making the call. If your insurance company will not pay for weight loss surgery, pre-pay options may be available.

We know that patients participating in weight loss surgery benefit from support received from many sources - including family, friends, physicians and the entire medical team. Also important is the support that patients get from others, who like themselves, have actually experienced weight loss surgery.

Studies have shown that individuals who regularly attend support group meetings and follow up with their surgeon have the greatest long-term success. We offer a support group virtually via Zoom each month with a variety of topics to help you on your weight loss journey. Meeting virtually will allow you to participate and receive support no matter how far away you live and whether you’re at home or not. Topics include: snacking, portion control, holiday success, exercise, vitamins & supplements, healthy hydration and others.

Join Certified Bariatric Support Group Leader, Jessica Miller, RN for these fun and informative sessions. For more information, and to be added to the unique monthly support group invitation links, please call Jessica at (701) 530-5189 or email [email protected].


Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program

The Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program has designated CHI St. Alexius Health as a Comprehensive Bariatric Surgery Center. Dr. Brandon Helbling of CHI’s Weight and Wellness program, performs surgical weight loss procedures at this MBSAQIP-accredited center. Earning this designation signifies CHI St. Alexius Health’s ability to consistently meet high standards of safe care for bariatric surgery patients.

BCBS Blue Distinction for Bariatric Surgery logo

Blue Distinction Center for Bariatric Surgery®

CHI St. Alexius Health has been designated as a Blue Distinction Center for Bariatric Surgery® by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Designation as Blue Distinction Centers means this facility's overall experience and aggregate data met objective criteria established in collaboration with expert clinicians' and leading professional organizations' recommendations. Individual outcomes may vary. To find out which services are covered under your policy at any facilities, please call your local Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield Plan.

CHI St. Alexius Health Weight & Wellness Program

810 East Rosser Ave.

Bismarck, ND 58501

(701) 530-3142

Your initial consultation is free! Contact us for more information.