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Is weight loss surgery an option for you?

Is weight loss surgery an option for you?

Are you someone who struggles with your weight and other medical problems? Bariatric surgery might be a solution for long-term weight loss.

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found medically monitored weight loss programs were not very successful for severely obese patients.  Bariatric surgery contributed to significant long-term weight loss and decreased overall mortality. Researchers found that patients who received medical weight loss therapies only lost two percent of their weight after 15 years.  Those who had gastric bypass surgery were able to lose 27 percent of their weight after 15 years while those who had the laparoscopic adjustable gastric band were able to lose 13 percent of their weight after 15 years.

Candidates for bariatric surgery must have a body mass index (BMI) of 35-39 and at least two other conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea, arthritis, heart disease and high cholesterol or a body mass index greater than 40.

What types of weight loss surgery are there?
The three commonly performed weight loss operations are:

  • The laparoscopic adjustable gastric band involves placing a silicone band around the top of the stomach. The band helps to restrict the amount of food someone can eat. Typical weight loss is 40-50 percent excess weight loss in two to four years.
  • The gastric bypass involves creating a small stomach pouch to restrict eating and reroute food past the first portion of the small intestine.  Average weight loss for the gastric bypass is 75 percent excess weight loss in six months. Some medical conditions may resolve in days to weeks after gastric bypass.
  • The laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy is accomplished by removing about 2/3 of the stomach. This also results in restriction and some hormonal changes. Typical weight loss is about 65 percent excess weight loss in six months.

Recent literature demonstrates that patients who had gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy resolved their diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.  They were able to stop diabetic, blood pressure and cholesterol medications one year after surgery. Patients who were in the medical weight loss arm of the trial were unable to achieve the same results.

A successful bariatric program includes a coordinated approach with nurses and doctors involved in the patient care; nutritionists assisting in establishing a healthy diet; and fitness instructors aiding in lifestyle modification, including at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, three to five times per week.

Bariatric surgery can improve your quality of life, decrease your risk of death and help resolve some medical problems without the use of medications. The weight loss can also increase your activity level and help you feel better.

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About the Author

Dr. Daniel Wool
Dr. Daniel Wool

Dr. Daniel Wool is a general surgeon with an office in Barrington, Ill. He is on staff at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital.