Addressing obesity through weight loss surgery

Many Americans have committed to losing weight in 2018 with the goal of boosting self-image and confidence. However, the health effects of obesity often go beyond physical characteristics.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one third of all U.S. adults are obese, and obesity-related conditions are the second-leading cause of preventable death in the United States.

Dr. Carlos Galvani, chief of metabolic and bariatric surgery at Baylor College of Medicine, talks about the effects of obesity and how weight loss surgery can help improve overall health and wellness.

What is obesity?

obesity-surgery-photoBody mass index (BMI) is a ratio between weight and height, which helps determine weight-related health risks. Those with a BMI of 30 or greater are typically considered to be obese.

“Obesity is the state of having too much body fat to be considered medically healthy. Obese individuals have an increased risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, sleep apnea and other conditions.”

In addition to physical health risks, obesity is often associated with psychological and social challenges, such as depression, low self-esteem and isolation.

Weight loss surgery options

Galvani says conventional, non-surgical weight-loss methods such as diet, exercise and lifestyle changes are often sought out, but may not be enduring for some individuals without additional assistance. When traditional options fail, weight loss surgery may be an option. There are a variety of surgical procedures that can be performed to assist with weight loss, including:

Galvani says each procedure is unique and has a distinct set of benefits and characteristics.

“The sleeve gastrectomy, for example, helps limit food ingestion, can improve obesity-related health conditions and may eliminate need for second surgery if there is successful weight loss after first surgery,” he said.

Qualifications for weight loss surgery candidates include:

  • Previously failed medically supervised weight loss attempts
  • BMI over 40, or BMI over 35 and comorbidities
  • Acceptable operative risk
  • Absence of active drug or alcohol issues
  • No uncontrolled psychological conditions

Followed by a consultation with a bariatric surgeon, a patient will typically participate in a clinical weight loss program with the goal of getting approved for surgery. After being medically cleared for surgery, an evaluation will determine which procedure is best for the patient.

Recovery and outlook

Galvani says post-operative care depends on which procedure the patient receives and weight loss progress. Typically, patients will visit with a nutritionist every three months during the first year, every six months during the second year and once a year thereafter. Patients are also encouraged to join a support group throughout the process while also receiving follow-up care.

Additional Resources

Learn more about the Weight Loss and Metabolic Center at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center or call 713-798-6673 to schedule an appointment.

Attend a free Weight Loss Surgery Seminar.

Read a profile of Chandra Carr, bariatric program coordinator at Baylor.

-By Nicole Blanton

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