Should I Visit a Bariatric Surgeon?

Gastric sleeve

You can only avoid mirror for so long, especially when you have children. “Mommy, come look at something with me,” and off you go to the mirror to look at the red area below the wiggly front tooth of your five year old daughter. The visual examination of the tooth quickly switches to your daughter’s comment, “You’re so pretty.” And while your daughter speaks of your beauty at least ten times a day, you know the truth is not so simple. Even constantly updating your wardrobe on shopping trips with your fashionista daughter can no longer disguise that you have a serious weight problem.
With a weight that is approaching 260 and a body mass index (BMI) that is 62 you can no longer ignore your doctor and your husband’s pleas for change. The diabetes diagnosis two years ago was the final indicator that you had to make some serious life changes if you wanted to be healthy enough to watch your young daughter grow up. In your darkest moments you even admit to yourself that you fear you may not even be alive if you don’s start taking better care of yourself.
Bariatric surgeons are an option for people who are in extreme weight situations. In fact, bariatric surgery has been effective and can offer significant help benefits to anyone with a BMI 40 or higher. Bariatric surgeons offer several procedures that can help the weight control of the most at risk individuals:

  • Gastric band. Used to reduce the size of the stomach, this silicone band is most often placed around the top of the stomach. A port allows for the inflation of the band, further allowing the band to be restricted different amounts during this weight loss surgery process. Adjustments to the band can be made to restrict appetite and control hunger. Because the entire process can be done laparoscopically, this is a popular option recommended by bariatric surgeons for many patients.
  • Sleeve gastrectomy. A completely different kind of gastric bypass, a gastric sleeve actually works to remove part of the stomach. Although part of the stomach is removed, food still enters the small intestine normally. This process is popular because it too offers an initial reduction in appetite which can lead to significant hunger control.
  • Biliopancreatic diversion. A more complicated procedure, biliopancreatic diversion not only removes part of the stomach, but also removes part of the small intestine as well. Depending upon which part of the stomach is removed, the lower part or the round side part, this procedure is done in two different ways. Because parts of both the stomach and the small intestine are removed in this process, the weight loss can be significant. However, because caloric intake is so limited, this process also limits the amount of nutrients the patient will receive.

More than 66% of adults are considered to be overweight or obese. This means that two of every three adults have a weight problem that is likely contributing to major health issues. A recent Harvard study, for example, indicates that obesity increases the risk of diabetes and these extra pounds significantly increase the risk of developing high blood pressure, as well as other health concerns as painful as gallstones and as major as heart disease and stroke. Almost all studies indicate a direct corelation between BMI and all of these health risks.
If you are the one in 20 adults in America who are considered extremely obese, bariatric surgery options may be the only way to significantly improve your health, and possible extend your life.

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