CONSUMER HEALTH, PATIENT CARE

Ask the Doctor: Dr. James McGinty

America loves a weight loss story—look no further than the myriad television shows dedicated to weight loss journeys for proof of this fact. “My 600-Pound Life,” “The Biggest Loser” and “Revenge Body” just to name a few. But when it comes to how those struggling with obesity lose weight, our culture often stands in judgment of choices that we deem ‘lazy’ or ‘cheating.’ Bariatric surgeries, or weight loss surgeries, have long faced public scrutiny, and those who undergo these procedures are often seen as trying to merely escape diet and exercise. However, over the past decade, studies have shown that once someone crosses over into the category of obesity, losing weight – and keeping it off- through diet, exercise, and even medications becomes a much less realistic option. So, for many people struggling with obesity, weight loss surgery is their best and only option if they wish to lower their chances of developing diseases like diabetes or high blood pressure and live a longer life.

Who is the typical candidate for bariatric surgery?

Dr. McGinty: The typical candidate is someone who has struggled with their weight for long time, has made multiple attempts at losing weight through diet and exercise and is now weighing at least 80-100 pounds over their ideal body weight. This person is typically at risk for, or already has, diseases related to obesity, like diabetes, high blood pressure or sleep apnea.

What are the most popular weight loss surgeries?

Dr. McGinty: The two most widely used bariatric surgeries are the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and the vertical sleeve gastrectomy. Both are done utilizing minimally invasive techniques which minimize pain, hospital stay, and complications. These operations work by changing the way that hormones that are made inside the intestine communicate with organs that control hunger and metabolism. Thus, patients are able to eat regular food, but their appetite is better controlled, they are satisfied with smaller portions, and their weight set point is lowered to a more normal level.

What are some of the benefits of weight loss surgery?

Dr. McGinty: Multiple studies have shown there is not only a health and quality of life benefit, but also a survival benefit among overweight people who opt for surgery. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed a more than 50% reduction in deaths from heart disease, a 90% reduction in deaths from diabetes related complications and a 60% reduction in dying from various cancers. As a result, those who had surgery saw a 40% reduction in mortality compared to those that did not have surgery.

Posted November 2018


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