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Is weight loss surgery right for you?

Bryn Mawr Hospital August 15, 2014 General Wellness

In the battle against obesity, a personalized weight loss plan is best. Your doctor can help you create one based on your age, weight, health, and medical history. Several methods are used to treat obesity, such as changing what and how you eat. To lose weight and keep it off, think about an eating plan instead of a diet. A registered dietitian can help you develop a plan tailored to your likes and dislikes.

Exercise, too, is key. It helps to maintain and add lean muscle tissue while losing fat. Muscle tissue has a higher rate of metabolism, which helps you burn calories faster. Walking is a great choice for people who are obese. Other simple steps include using the stairs instead of the elevator, parking at the far end of the lot, and minimizing your TV time.

For some people, diet and exercise don’t work. According to Richard Ing, MD, medical director of the Bariatric Center at Bryn Mawr Hospital, “Bariatric surgery, or weight loss surgery, is the only option that effectively treats morbid obesity in people for whom more conservative measures have failed.”

Potential candidates for surgery include people with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 40, as well as people with a BMI between 35 and 40 who have another condition such as obesity-related type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, or heart disease.

There are several approaches to bariatric surgery: malabsorptive, restrictive, or a combination of the two. Typically, malabsorptive procedures result in more weight loss than restrictive procedures. Malabsorptive procedures change the way the digestive system works. Food is rerouted past a large portion of the stomach and part of the small intestine that absorbs some calories and nutrients. With some procedures, such as the laparoscopic gastric bypass, a portion of the stomach is removed.

Restrictive procedures, such as laparoscopic gastric banding, severely reduce the size of the stomach to hold less food. The digestive functions remain intact.

“Weight loss doesn’t end with surgery,” says Dr. Ing. “Having bariatric surgery means a long-term commitment to regular exercise, specific eating patterns, and other lifestyle changes. Talk with your doctor to learn if surgery is right for you.”

Wondering if you're a candidate for weight loss surgery? Check out the criteria and our informational video to see if it's right for you.