Bariatric Surgery: Is It Right for You?

Wednesday, May 01, 2013 2:38 PM

weight lossObesity is a condition that affects nearly one third of men and women in the United States, and its risk factors can cause severe and often life-threatening illnesses, such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and an increased risk for developing breast, prostate and colon cancers.  While a healthy diet and consistent exercise routine are the best ways to stay fit, that combination might not be enough for everyone to maintain a healthy weight.

For those who struggle with severe weight loss problems, bariatric surgery, or weight loss surgery, can offer life-changing solutions. The procedures that fall under the category of bariatric surgery reduce the size of the stomach in various ways, restricting the amount of food patients can eat and increasing their ability to lose weight rapidly.

These procedures include:

  • Gastric Bypass—the most common bariatric procedure where the smaller, upper portion of the stomach is stapled, separating it from the rest of the stomach.
  • Gastric Banding, or Lap-Band—a silicone rubber band is used to separate the top of the stomach from the bottom of the stomach.
  • Gastric Sleeve, or Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy —85% of the stomach is laparoscopically removed, leaving a smaller, sleeve-shaped portion.

Woody Denham, MD, bariatric surgeon at NorthShore, shares some of the basic criteria one must meet for weight loss surgery:

  1. Your BMI (body mass index) is higher than 40. A BMI of over 40 is the equivalent of being 100 pounds overweight for men and 80 pounds overweight for women. Those with BMIs between 35 and 39 might also be good candidates.
  2. You have an obesity-related illness. Obesity-related illnesses and health problems include: diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and sleep apnea.  Almost 90% of those newly diagnosed with diabetes are also overweight or obese. Patients who underwent bariatric surgery for their diabetes have often achieved complete remission of the disease.
  3. Your attempts to lose weight have been repeatedly unsuccessful. Your physician will review your weight losses and gains, and eating and exercise habits, to determine if you have exhausted more traditional weight loss strategies. This will also help your physician determine if there is another medical condition preventing weight loss.

As with any surgery, it is important to discuss what treatment options would be best for you with your physician. The weight loss journey doesn’t end with surgery. Losing weight will still require basic lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise.

To learn more about bariatric surgery and to determine if you’d be a good candidate, attend one of NorthShore’s Bariatric Information Sessions. This free session is offered the 3rd Tuesday of every month from 6-7p.m. at 501 Skokie Blvd. in Northbrook.

What do you do control your weight? Have you had weight loss surgery?

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