Fighting the Obesity Epidemic
According to the Journal of American Medical Association, more than one-third of adults and 17% of youth in the United States are obese. In my last article two month ago, I discussed medical weight loss options. Ultimately, my suggestion was whatever method you use, find the right provider that will stick with you during and, most importantly, after your weight loss to help you maintain your new, healthier life.
For some people, a surgical weight loss procedure is a tool available to them to consider. Many things are taken into consideration with surgical weight loss, the first of which is the person’s Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI can be determined using a person’s height and weight. There are many online calculation tools available, including www.bmi-calculator.net. Someone with a BMI between 19.0-24.9 is considered to be of normal weight, 25-29.9 is overweight, 30-34.9 is obese (class I), 35 – 39.9 is obese (class II), over 40 is morbidly obese and over 50 is super morbidly obese.
Anyone with a BMI of 30 or higher could consider surgical weight loss procedures and insurance providers often will determine who is eligible based on their BMI in addition to other severe medical conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea and heart disease.
Surgical weight loss often leads to a weight loss of 80-240 pounds, depending on the starting weight. The different weight loss procedures available include:
Gastric Bypass: A small stomach pouch is created and a portion of the small intestine is “bypassed”.
Sleeve Gastrectomy: Part of the stomach is removed and weight loss is achieved by eating less.
Gastric Band Surgery: This option places a silicone band around the stomach creating a small pouch at the top of the stomach and a large portion of the stomach below the band. Unfortunately, this procedure can lead to some complications, can require revisional surgery and does not have as successful weight loss outcomes as the other surgical options available.
Gastric Balloon Procedures: This non-invasive procedure places a silicone filled balloon into the stomach for up to six months via endoscopy. This procedure can be very costly as many insurance providers are not covering this yet. A non-surgical version has also been created and is approved in Europe, but is not yet approved in the United States. After offering the non-surgical gastric balloon during a trial in Greece, the results proved to be a good option for many people and should be successful when it becomes available.
When considering surgical weight loss, again, find a provider that will work with you not only before, but who will continue to provide follow-up care long after your surgery is complete.
Yannis Raftopoulos, MD, PhD, FACS, FASMBS, is the Director of the Holyoke Medical Center Weight Management Program and Associate Professor of Surgery at the University of Connecticut. To learn about the Weight Management Program at Holyoke Medical Center, attend an upcoming information session, held monthly in English and Spanish. Visit www.HolyokeHealth.com/events or call 413.535.4757 to register.