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January 2011 | 0 Comments | Print

Is weight loss surgery right for you?

Yo-yo dieting didn’t help shed the extra pounds. An intense exercise program caused chronic joint pain. And prescription weight-loss medications had unwanted side effects. If these scenarios sound familiar, you know losing a significant amount of weight is a struggle. And you’re not alone.

Almost one third of adults in the United States are obese. In Greater Cincinnati, one in three adults are obese – a rate that has increased 9 percent since 1999, according to the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati.

Excess weight affects every system in the body. In fact, obesity can cause high cholesterol and high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis and has even been linked to some cancers.

Surgical weight loss is an option

When diet and exercise are not enough, surgical weight loss could be an option. But how do you know if you’re a candidate? “People who are at least 100 pounds overweight, with more severe medical problems who have been unsuccessful at losing weight through diet and exercise should talk to their doctor about weight-loss surgery,” says Lisa Martin Hawver, M.D., F.A.C.S., a general surgeon with The Christ Hospital’s Bariatric Center of Excellence.

In general, to be eligible for weight-loss surgery, patients must exhibit one or more of the following:

  • Be at least 100 pounds overweight for your body type  
  • Have a BMI of 40 or greater (morbid obesity)
  • Have a BMI over 35 and weight problems that significantly interfere with your physical activities
  • Have a BMI over 35 (obese) along with significant medical conditions such as:
    • Diabetes 
    • Sleep apnea 
    • Hypertension 
    • Cardiovascular disease.

Serious weight loss, serious decision

The decision to have weight-loss surgery can only be made after you and your physician discuss the psychological and physical aspects of undergoing the procedure. Candidates must also consult with an exercise physiologist and nutritionist to analyze their eating habits and develop a weight-maintenance plan after surgery.

“Patients need to make sure they are mentally ready to accept the diet and exercise changes, and they should get the support of their family before doing so, too,” Dr. Martin Hawver says.

Although surgery can improve overall health and self-esteem, it can present complications, including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, infection, nutritional deficiencies and ulcers.

Weighing your options

If surgical intervention is right for you, The Christ Hospital’s weight-loss team can determine the best type of surgery based on your weight-loss goals and lifestyle habits. Common surgical weight-loss procedures include:

  • Gastric bypass surgery reduces the size of the stomach and the route food travels through the digestive system, which prevents many calories from being absorbed while still creating a sense of feeling full. Dr. Martin Hawver recommends this surgery for people with severe medical problems who need to lose significant weight. Most people will lose up to 70 percent of their extra weight within two years or less.
  • Restrictive weight loss surgery uses laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding to permanently reduce the size of the stomach. These procedures work by restricting the amount of food patients can eat (about 1 cup per meal) and by decreasing the sensation of hunger. Patients can expect to drop about 40 percent of their excess body weight within two to five years.

Life-changing surgery

As transforming as weight-loss surgery can be, it’s no quick fix. “Everyone should expect to exercise and change their diet significantly to maximize their weight loss for the long term,” Dr. Martin Hawver says.

The Christ Hospital’s Bariatric Center of Excellence offers behavioral counseling programs and support groups to help patients make the transition to a healthier lifestyle after the surgery. “Weight-loss surgery can be lifesaving,” Dr. Martin Hawver says. “They key is to change the behaviors so the surgery is a success.”

Find a physician who can help coach you through your weight-loss journey by calling 877-904-4YOU or visiting

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