Have you ever tried to lose weight? If so, you’re not alone. You're among millions of Americans who try to shed extra pounds, only to gain them again.
Are you obese, meaning you have too much body fat? Obesity is a disease, but help is available. Weight loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery, can change your life in positive ways. Science proves it.
In the early '90s, the National Institutes of Health studied how people try to lose weight. They found having weight loss surgery was the only way to keep weight off five years or longer.
Many primary care doctors send their patients to a bariatric surgeon. That's because their patients have diabetes, congestive heart failure, sleep apnea or other problems made worse by extra weight. These patients often find these problems go away after surgery.
Surgery also reduces the chance of getting many types of cancer. This is important because in the U.S., obesity is the second-leading cause of preventable cancers.
In addition to the physical benefits, weight loss surgery can help people enjoy a fuller, richer life. After surgery, people move better, feel better and have more energy.
The idea of having a healthier, more active life can be exciting. Some people want to have surgery right away. But it’s important to make sure you’re ready for surgery and the changes it brings.
Weight Loss is a Journey
Augustus Lyons, MD, bariatric surgeon at USMD, always tells people having surgery is a journey. Your life and health will improve, but you won’t wake up skinny. Getting used to a new way of eating is a commitment. And in 25% of patients, weight loss surgery doesn’t work.
When I meet patients for the first time, we spend at least an hour together. This is important in developing a long-term relationship and helping them prepare for a new life.
Dr. Lyons meets with patients every month. They talk about which type of surgery is best and work with other experts to make sure they’re ready for what their new life brings.
One of those experts is a psychologist who studies human behavior. A psychologist can help make sure you are mentally and emotionally ready for changes to your body and life. Being in the right frame of mind can make a difference between success and failure.
Weight loss surgery is also a chance to have a reset, including the way you eat. A nutrition expert will help you learn how to eat leading up to surgery and after surgery. New data shows eating healthy six weeks before surgery can improve success.
A Full Medical Exam
Your safety and well-being are the most important things to consider before surgery. Dr. Lyons does a full medical exam to make sure you’re healthy enough to have the operation.
After the exam and meeting with other experts, Dr. Lyons keeps meeting with patients before surgery. During these visits, he checks on how they’re feeling and what they’re doing. Are they exercising? When and what are they eating? They talk about ways to improve these things to promote the best possible result.
There Has Never Been a Better Time
In the '70s or '80s, weight loss surgery required big cuts that often became infected. The surgery was risky and not done very often — maybe 30,000 to 40,000 times a year. Since then, laparoscopic surgery has changed everything. Now, small pinhole-size cuts are made to insert a camera and instruments to operate. More people have weight loss surgery as a result.
After a full exam and many conversations, patients choose the type of surgery. Dr. Lyons works with patients to decide which type is best, the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass or vertical sleeve gastrectomy.
Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass
With this, the stomach is cut into two parts. The upper pouch becomes the working stomach. After surgery, it holds a few ounces of food. The larger lower part of the stomach never holds food again, but still helps break down food to be used by the body.
Vertical Sleeve Bypass
This removes about 65% of the stomach. It helps speed up weight loss because it reduces the amount of food you can eat. The operation is not reversible.
Surgery is Just the Beginning
After surgery, the journey continues. Patients have to drink plenty of water and learn a new way of eating. They especially have to eat enough protein to build muscle while losing fat.
Dr. Lyons sees patients for five years after surgery. Dr. Lyons say, “In my heart, I really want patients to succeed. It makes me happy to know I can help change the direction of a person’s life.”
Talk to your physician if you want to learn more about weight loss surgery.