When is it time for bariatric surgery?

December 11, 2017 | by Mark Choh, MD
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

Agreeing to have surgery can be scary. But when you’ve reached the point where you are considering bariatric surgery, the procedure may seem less frightening than continuing life in your current state.

Obesity can have a devastating effect on your health and well-being. It is strongly associated with, and can significantly increase, your risk of numerous medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and obstructive sleep apnea. Obesity can also increase your risk for certain cancers and significantly affect your ability to work and function.

Weight is a difficult issue, entwined with emotion, family history and habits. Losing weight is one of the hardest, most frustrating and most psychologically taxing things a human can do.

While exercise, diet and medication can help some people reclaim a healthy weight, most people who suffer from obesity are fighting an uphill battle against their own body. Their genetics, metabolism and physiology often interfere with their best efforts to lose weight. When you keep trying, unsuccessfully, to lose weight, how do you know when you’re in over your head?

When those non-surgical methods aren’t helping you reach your goals, bariatric surgery may be the key to better health and a better life.

What is bariatric surgery?

Bariatric surgery refers to a variety of surgical weight loss procedures that are performed to treat obesity and its associated metabolic disease. Most of the procedures aim to reduce the size of the stomach, limiting the amount of food you can consume and how you digest it.

Many options also change your physiology and metabolism by changing the way food is digested and absorbed, along with changing how your body signals you when you’re hungry, when you’re craving something sweet and when you’re full after eating.

Having bariatric surgery can change your life for the better. It’s a lifelong commitment, and the decision to have surgery should be made with care and support from your family and friends.

Good candidates for bariatric surgery meet several criteria. First, their Body Mass Index (BMI) is greater than or equal to 40; or greater than 35 with obesity-related medical conditions. Second, they must be willing to commit to a completely different lifestyle.

Candidates must understand that the obesity is a chronic, lifelong condition, and surgery is only a part of the treatment pathway. Being successful requires education and readdressing how you approach eating, nutrition and meal planning.

What is involved in surgery and recovery?

At Edward-Elmhurst Health, we do our best to ensure bariatric patients have help and support every step of the way, from preparation for and recovery from surgery, to adjusting to your new lifestyle. Through the preoperative process, we will help you understand that the surgery is just one part of the treatment pathway. After surgery, we’ll provide long-term follow-up care to help you best meet your weight loss goals and ensure there are no major issues postoperatively. We also offer free support groups for bariatric surgery patients.

At the Edward-Elmhurst Bariatrics and Weight Management Center, bariatric surgeries are performed laparoscopically, a technique that uses smaller incisions, helping you recover faster. Typically, patients stay in the hospital for two days and are well recovered in just a few weeks.

Advances in the field have made these operations much safer than they were even a few years ago. While any operation carries a chance of complications, the risks associated with bariatric surgery these days are very small. If complications occur, they are often very treatable and don’t result in long-term problems.

As with any health condition, education and understanding your options is of utmost importance. We encourage you to learn more about bariatric surgery at Edward-Elmhurst Health by attending one of our upcoming bariatric surgery seminars, given by one of our board-certified surgeons, including myself, Ryan Headley, MD and Wayne Yang, MD.  We would love to help you determine if weight loss surgery is right for you!

If your weight is putting your health at risk and other weight loss methods aren’t working, bariatric surgery may be the answer for you. Learn more.

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