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When Obesity Leads to Bariatric Surgery: What You Should Know

March 21, 2022

Here’s something you may not know – obesity is considered a chronic disease. Meaning a person may not be able to control the fact they are overweight, just as much as someone can’t control they have diabetes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 40 percent of Americans are considered obese and we see many of them turning to a bariatric medicine specialist or surgeon for help.

The weight loss journey process before surgery can take anywhere from four to six months. The reason for this is to make sure that a person is safe for surgery. If there are any underlying diseases, such as sleep apnea or high blood pressure, we want to resolve those issues first. As a bariatric surgeon, I work closely with patients to also implement appropriate exercise, healthy eating and modify behaviors contributing to weight gain before surgery comes into play. Making these lifestyle changes prior to surgery means their surgery outcome is often better.

There are several types of weight loss procedures. Choosing the right one is really based on the patient’s condition.

Here are two of the most common weight loss procedures:

  • Sleeve gastrectomy: Think of your stomach like it’s the shape of a football. We remove two-thirds of it so that when we are done it’s in the shape of a banana. The smaller stomach means the patient will eat less. This procedure also involves removing the part of the stomach that produces the hormone that makes people hungry.
  • Gastric bypass: We do not remove any part of the stomach, but rather create a small pouch in the stomach so the patient does not absorb as much food when they are eating.

These surgeries are designed to help a person lose weight, but it’s important to understand that the surgery is about getting a person to a healthier place and getting rid of, or preventing, any medical issues related to obesity. Understanding this concept is important because losing weight is about so much more than just the physical change a person goes through.

If a patient does not want to go through surgery, they can also see a bariatric medicine specialist who will help them in their weight loss journey through medication. We also use this option for surgery patients who are high risk for surgery in order to help them lose weight before having a procedure done.

To anyone who is struggling with their weight, please know that that this is not your fault. There are options available to help people get to a healthier place in their lives. The weight loss journey takes time, but through the proper education, lifestyle changes and medical guidance, it can have tremendous benefits.

Dr. Aziz Benbrahim is a bariatric surgeon with the Hartford HealthCare Medical Group at MidState Medical Center. For more information on weight loss, or to book an appointment for a consultation, call 1.855.792.6258 or click here.