Obesity is a chronic disease and must be recognized as a serious disease with weight-related complications such as elevated blood sugars, increased blood pressure and cholesterol, infertility, some types of cancer, sleep apnea, joint and back pain. “Bariatric” is a term that describes the branch of medicine that deals with the causes, treatment and prevention of obesity. Bariatric surgery and weight loss surgery are often used interchangeably when discussing obesity treatment options.
Bariatric surgery has been shown to be the most effective method for individuals to lose a significant amount of weight and to maintain a lower healthy body weight. The decision to undergo bariatric surgery is not an easy one. Bariatric surgery is only a “tool” to promote weight loss, while behavior modification and a personal commitment to lifestyle change depends on the individual patient. Healthy eating and exercise behaviors are part of any medical treatment plan for obesity. However, the patient is ultimately responsibility for carrying out the long-term commitment to behavior change for weight loss and weight maintenance.
Benefits of Bariatric Surgery
The benefits of weight loss and bariatric surgery cannot be overstated. Some of these many benefits include improvement or elimination of many obesity related diseases such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and obstructive sleep apnea. Hormonal imbalances often improve and can decrease infertility concerns. As co-morbidities improve, patients enjoy lower costs of medical care with decreased medication use and fewer medical appointments.
Many patients also experience a greater feeling of self-worth and a lower risk of anxiety and depression. This often leads to more social and work opportunities for the individual. Increased physical mobility is associated with improved family and employment productivity, reinstating self-esteem and self-confidence.
Bariatric surgery also comes with risks inherent to any surgical procedure. Surgical risks are discussed with during the pre-surgery visits with our bariatric team, so patients should be prepared to ask their questions at scheduled appointments.
The sleeve gastrectomy is currently the most popular bariatric surgery in the United States. Surgeons and patients appreciate the simplicity of the procedure as well as the effectiveness both in weight loss and disease resolution. The gastric sleeve procedure eliminates approximately 70 to 80% of the existing stomach to reduce the amount of food the patient can eat during a meal. Weight loss is slower compared to the gastric bypass; however, patients do experience an average of 60 to 65% reduction of excess weight.
We will work with your cardiologist to determine medical clearance for bariatric surgery. It is important for all patients to bring in their current medication list to be reviewed during their pre-op visit. If a patient is on blood thinners of any type, expect special instructions just before and after surgery.