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Bariatric surgery an option for weight loss

Your Health Matters

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC, more than 30 percent of the adult population in Maryland is obese. Obesity increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

A person who has documented weight loss attempts that have been unsuccessful and meets qualifying factors for body weight and body mass index or BMI, may consider bariatric surgery - a more common and trusted weight loss procedure that has a high rate of success.

Bariatric surgery options

Mohammad K. Jamal, M.D., FACS, FASMBS, of Meritus Bariatric Surgical Specialists, works regularly with patients to help them choose the best weight loss option for their situation.

“There are 10-11 different surgical and non-surgical options available to limit stomach size or reduce the length of the intestines,” explains Dr. Jamal. “The two most common procedures are gastric sleeve and gastric bypass surgery.”

Gastric sleeve is a restrictive weight loss surgery that permanently reduces the size of the stomach. It promotes weight loss by limiting food intake and lessening the sensation of hunger. During this procedure, the surgeon removes approximately 80 percent of the stomach, leaving only a small tube or “sleeve” to serve as the new stomach pouch.

Gastric bypass surgery is considered a combined restrictive and malabsorptive procedure, where a small pouch is created by stapling and dividing the stomach. This limits the food intake and reduces the calorie absorption, so that weight loss is able to occur.

“Which procedure is best for each patient really depends on the medical conditions the patient has,” says Dr. Jamal. He and the team at Meritus Bariatric Surgical Specialists work closely with patients to select the procedure that will most likely help the patient achieve his/her weight loss and health goals, while minimizing risk.

Preparing for surgery

Bariatric surgery is a major procedure that requires preparation from the patient in order to improve long-term weight loss and the overall success of the operation.

“The preparation for any type of bariatric surgery is similar,” says Dr. Jamal. “Patients are required to undergo counseling, control portion sizes and reduce carbohydrates and overall calorie content once they enroll in the appropriate program.”

Insurance is another important consideration for prospective patients. Before paying large amounts of out-of-pockets expenses, a good first step to consult with insurance providers to determine coverage and eligibility for bariatric surgery.

Long-term lifestyle changes

While useful and proven to significantly improve a patient’s health, bariatric surgery does not “magically cure all.” Pre- and post-surgery, patients will need to make long-term lifestyle changes, especially in the areas of diet and exercise.

Dr. Jamal recommends his patients adopt these dietary changes for life:

  • Focus on eating 60 – 80 grams of protein each day. Most people don’t eat enough protein.
  • Count calories and carbohydrates to monitor the quality and quantity of food you are eating each day.
  • Limit portion sizes, especially post-surgery, since the internal workings of the stomach will be different and in many cases, restricted. Overeating or eating large volumes of food in one sitting could make you feel sick.

While diet changes are an integral part of long-term weight loss success, these adjustments must be coupled with exercise in order for bariatric surgery to be the most successful.

“Maintain this for the rest of your life and the positive benefits include possible remission of type 2 diabetes and hypertension!” says Dr. Jamal.

A healthier life post-surgery

For the past 40-50 years, the bariatric surgical procedures have facilitated longer, healthier lives.

Dr. Jamal hopes those who would benefit from bariatric surgery don’t wait until they’ve developed difficult health issues as a result of obesity, before making the decision to consider surgery.

“If your primary care doctor considers you to be a good candidate, have it done now before avoidable medical issues arise,” he says.