What is Bariatric Weight Loss?

Woman standing on bathroom scale

Many people struggle with their weight and increasing numbers of Americans are tipping the scale into obesity, a serious and complex health problem.  Bariatric weight loss is surgery for patients diagnosed with the most severe type of obesity called “morbid” obesity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 35-percent of US adults are obese. Some of the leading causes of death are obesity-related including heart disease, diabetes, stroke, breathing disorders and certain types of cancer. Yet for most people, obesity is preventable.

An obese adult is defined as a person whose Body Mass Index, or BMI, is significantly greater than the range of weights generally considered healthy for their height. Doctors usually first treat obese patients with a plan to change their lifestyle through diet, exercise, behavior modification and medication.

But genetics and environment can influence whether a person becomes obese and for some patients these changes bring only short-term results that are not enough to keep them healthy.

The National Institutes of Health recommends bariatric surgery for obese people with a BMI over 40 (100 pounds or more of excess weight) or for people with a BMI over 35 (75 pounds of more of excess weight) who also have other serious obesity-related medical problems like diabetes.

The surgery involves making the stomach significantly smaller to reduce nutrient intake and absorption. There are several surgical options. Some procedures close off most of the stomach with staples and reroute the gastrointestinal tract so food takes a different path during digestion. Others use a surgically implanted adjustable band around the stomach to restrict the amount of food an individual can eat at one sitting and give them a feeling of fullness.

Whether or not to have weight loss surgery is a big decision. All surgery has risks and this type of surgery has life-changing consequences. It should not be considered a “quick fix.”  Reducing the size of the stomach helps patients eat less, but they still have to follow a careful diet and exercise plan and make other adjustments to get the weight off and keep it off.  Surgery should only be considered once all other methods of getting to and maintaining a healthy weight have failed.

The Center for Surgical Weight Loss at Riverside Community Hospital offers advanced, minimally invasive surgical procedures for individuals seeking a more permanent weight loss solution. To attend a free educational seminar and learn more about your options, call our Bariatric Coordinator at 951-788-3432.  You can also find out more about our comprehensive services by calling our Consult-A-Nurse line at (951)788-3463.

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