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Doc Talk: Is bariatric surgery the best option for treating obesity?

The American Medical Association decided last week to recognize obesity as a disease that requires a range of medical interventions for treatment and prevention. One of those treatment options is weight loss surgery. 

Mary Sha Miller, director of Bariatric Services with the Metabolic Surgery Center at Baptist Hospital, says if you're considering surgery as a treatment options first evaluate and discuss your options with a bariatric surgery to determine your specific needs.

Here are some of the most asked questions Miller receives from patients.

  • Is weight loss surgery right for everyone? No. Guidelines require a patient’s BMI to be greater than 40 or greater than 35 with at least one or more obesity-related diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Additionally, patients interested in weight loss surgery must first go through a complete evaluation and discussion with their bariatric surgeon. An accurate assessment of your current medical condition, the risks involved with surgery and your level of commitment to the lifestyle change must be determined before moving forward.
  • What risks are involved with surgery? There are certain risks involved with any surgery. Consulting with your bariatric surgeon to understand the risks and benefits is important when making the decision if weight loss surgery is for you.
  • Can I become pregnant after the surgery? It is advised that women avoid pregnancy for at least 18 months after weight loss surgery. Typically, the pace of your weight loss is at its peak during those first two years and fetal development can be compromised by the malnutrition associated with weight loss surgery.
  • Where can I find out more and speak to a doctor about weight loss surgery? You can visit our website at www.BaptistWeightloss.com to find out more about the unique and comprehensive program we have at the Metabolic Surgery Center, as well as register for a free bariatric informational seminar. This seminar will provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to start your journey to wellness.
  • How long do I have to stay in the hospital after surgery? Typically, a hospital stay can last anywhere from 1 to 3 days after surgery, depending on which surgical option you and your bariatric surgeon determine is best suited for you. 
  • Is weight loss surgery reversible? At the Metabolic Surgery Center, we offer four weight loss procedures, including the adjustable gastric band, the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, the lateral sleeve gastrectomy and the biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch. Of these four procedures, the adjustable gastric band and the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass are reversible.
  • When can I begin exercising again after surgery? Generally, bariatric surgery patients will be sore for the first 30 days following a procedure. After those 30 days, patients should consult their doctor for an appropriate exercise plan. A full strength exercise plan may not begin until 120 days following. Consult with your bariatric team to find out what is best for you.
  • What tests will I need before undergoing a weight loss procedure?Your doctor will screen tests most appropriate to you. However, generally, the following tests may be needed:
    • Comprehensive lab panel, including your cholesterol, iron and vitamin levels
    • Hemoglobin A1C lab test (if you have a history of diabetes)
    • An upper GI test, which is an x-ray of your gastrointestinal tract (usually performed to evaluate the presence of a hiatal hernia.
  • Will I need to continue seeing my primary care doctor after surgery? Yes. In addition to follow-ups with your Bariatric surgeon, you will need to continue regularly seeing your primary care doctor to monitor your health post-surgery.
  • Will I be hungry after weight loss surgery? As is the goal of weight loss surgery, your overall capacity for food consumption will be smaller. For up to 6 months, patients may experience little hunger, coupled with a smaller appetite. Staying connected with your bariatric team will help you make the nutritional changes needed for long-term success
For more information, or to schedule an appointment at the Metabolic Surgery Center at Baptist Hospital, visit http://www.baptistweightloss.com/ or call 615-284-2400.
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