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Are You a Candidate for Bariatric Surgery?

January 25, 2017

About 158,000 weight loss procedures were performed in 2015 in the U.S., according to the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. Weight loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery, continues to be a viable option for overweight and obese patients who have had challenges losing weight through diet and exercise alone.

Orlando Health physicians have performed more than 6,000 weight loss procedures, between Orlando Regional Medical Center and our Bariatric and Laparoscopy Center. We see hundreds of patients who are on the verge of diabetes, high blood pressure and other chronic conditions because they are obese. Obesity now affects more than 67 percent of American adults, but surgery often improves people’s quality of life, and in combination with lifestyle changes, helps them maintain a healthy weight for years to come. If you are considering bariatric surgery, but aren’t sure if you are a candidate here’s what you need to know.

Who Should Get Bariatric Surgery

Men and women who have a body mass index (BMI) of at least 35, are more than 100 pounds overweight or who have an obesity-related health issue, such as high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease, often are candidates for bariatric surgery. At our facility, we see patients who have a BMI between 35 and 65.

Before patients are approved for surgery, they undergo a rigorous screening process that assesses their willingness to follow the recommendations of their care team. Each patient’s care team also identifies the risks and areas of potential improvement as a result of bariatric surgery. Once we review these considerations, we then decide whether a patient is approved for surgery. Patients may undergo gastric bypass, the most common weight loss procedure in the country; Sleeve gastrectomy, a minimally invasive procedure in which we remove up to 80 percent of the stomach to restrict the amount of food you can consume; gastric banding, in which a band is placed around the stomach to reduce its size, or a duodenal switch, in which all but four to six ounces of the stomach is removed. We review the advantages and disadvantages of each procedure with patients and decide on the right treatment approach that will give them the best odds of losing the most weight, with the least risk and keeping it off long term.

Preparing for Surgery

Before a patient undergoes bariatric surgery, we recommend that he or she loses 10 to 15 pounds. To achieve this, we’ll put you on a modified diet two weeks before surgery, which will include replacing two meals a day with a liquid protein drink and eating one lean meal a day. We also urge patients to avoid high-fat and processed foods, reduce their carbohydrate intake and increase their consumption of non-starchy vegetables and lean protein.

After surgery, you must stick to a modified diet to allow your digestive system to heal. This also reduces the risk of complications after surgery. This diet will include drinking at least 64 ounces of water every day, eating anywhere between 60 to 100 grams of protein a day (depending on your surgical procedure), avoiding alcohol, caffeine and soda and taking vitamins and mineral supplements.

In a sense, patients must learn how to eat again after surgery, and this modified diet helps them adjust to the size of their new stomach and make the appropriate lifestyle changes to achieve the best long-term results.

The Impact of Bariatric Surgery

Depending on which weight loss procedure you undergo, you may lose more than half of your excess weight. Patients who undergo sleeve gastrectomy may lose up to 65 percent of their excess weight, while those who undergo gastric banding may achieve an estimated weight loss of between 40-50 percent of their excess weight over the course of two years.

According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, bariatric surgery can improve or eliminate more than 40 obesity-related diseases and reduce the mortality rate from cancer, heart disease and diabetes in many patients. It also reduces the rate of early death by as much as 40 percent. We’ve seen proof of these figures in many of our patients, some of whom have lost more than 100 pounds with minimally invasive weight loss surgery and reversed their risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. We often hear from patients that they’ve never felt better and that the surgery was life changing.

Even with the positive results bariatric surgery produces, it’s important to understand that surgery isn’t a quick fix. It takes constant work on the part of the patient, including regular exercise and a healthy, balanced diet, to maintain a healthy weight after surgery. But with support from their care team and a lot of determination, many patients keep the weight off permanently.

If you meet any of the criteria I’ve outlined, you may be a candidate for surgery. To find out more, please call 321.8HEALTH or visit this page to register for an upcoming information session.

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