Weighing Your Options
Read enough magazines or watch enough infomercials and it’s easy to lose sight of the real goal of weight loss. Achieving a healthy weight is about more than looking good in a swimsuit. So much more. People who are in a normal weight range have less risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Losing weight also lessens the burden on your weight-bearing joints.
For people who are extremely overweight, weight-loss surgery can be a way to put them on track, making it easier for a healthy diet and regular exercise to have their intended effect.
Are you a good candidate? Use this checklist to find out. If you check “yes” to all the statements that follow, talk to your doctor or a weight-loss surgery specialist about your options.
I have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more, or a BMI of 35 or more along with an obesity-related condition such as type 2 diabetes.
This is the standard criterion for determining the need for weight-loss surgery. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a specific procedure (the Lap-Band) for people with a BMI as low as 30 if they have an obesity-related condition. Not all insurance companies, however, will cover surgery at a lower BMI. Click here to learn your BMI.
I have already tried dieting and exercise to lose weight.
Healthy eating plans and portion sizes are important for everyone, says Robin Blackstone, M.D., a bariatric and general surgeon and president of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. But sometimes diet and exercise aren’t enough.
“Obesity is an extremely hard disease to treat because the body has systems designed to defend the weight you’re at,” she explains. “Your body doesn’t work the same way when you’re big as it did when you were lean.”
That’s not to say you shouldn’t eat right and exercise—especially if you’re going to have weight-loss surgery, says Doreen A. Samelson, Ed.D., a clinical and medical psychologist and author of The Weight Loss Surgery Workbook: Deciding on Bariatric Surgery, Preparing for the Procedure, and Changing Habits for Post-Surgery Success.
“The research is clear that people who are unwilling to lose weight or start exercising before surgery are at risk for not losing enough weight or regaining what they lost,” she says.
I know weight-loss surgery isn’t a quick fix and that I have to maintain a healthy lifestyle after surgery.
Starting a healthy eating and exercise program before surgery is a great way to make sure you can stick with it after the procedure. It’s also important to fully understand any personal reasons for wanting to trim down.
“Sometimes people assume that everything in their life is attached to obesity and that all their problems will go away after they lose weight, but that’s not necessarily true,” Samelson says.
Even positive changes can take some adjustment for you and the people in your life.
What’s more, because many people put back on at least some of the weight they have lost, a maintenance plan is important. Keep a food diary to prevent overeating, and be ready with a strategy if you gain more than a few pounds.
I have learned about the different kinds of surgery.
There are a number of surgical options. The best way to choose the right one for you is to consult with a surgeon. Click here to learn about the weight loss surgery options offered by the Center for Surgical Weight Management.
But bear in mind that some procedures can change your body’s metabolism. This means they are more likely to improve or resolve weight-related issues such as type 2 diabetes. Of the four most common types of surgery, all but the laparoscopicadjustable gastric banding procedure have metabolic effects, Blackstone says.
I know there are risks involved with surgery.
Any surgery has risks, although those specifically related to weight-loss surgery are low.
But there are possible long-term issues to be aware of, says Blackstone, including the chance of vitamin or protein malnutrition. Because you will eat a lot less after surgery, your prescribed vitamin supplements are essential. Learn the risks and rewards of bariatric surgery.
I have health issues that might be helped by weight-loss surgery.
Depending on the type of surgery, some of the benefits include improvement or remission of a number of obesity-related conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
“It’s important to remember that weight-loss surgery isn’t a cure for anything,” Samelson says. “But if people are willing to make the necessary lifestyle changes, it’s a tool that can really help.”
What Are My Options?
Most weight-loss surgery is performed using minimally invasive techniques that allow people to go home one or two days after surgery. To learn more about your options for bariatric surgery, visit gwinnettbariatrics.com.