Obesity in America has reached epidemic proportions. It is estimated that more than 66 percent of the population is overweight or obese. The majority of these individuals have been battling weight issues or obesity for their entire lives and, in many cases, are likely to have tried and failed multiple times to take the weight off and keep it off by way of traditional diet and exercise. Additionally, people who are affected by obesity are at greater risk for other health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, some cancers, sleep apnea, asthma, osteoarthritis, and joint degeneration, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), lower back pain and urinary incontinence. For these individuals, bariatric surgery may be an option. Bariatric surgery is an operation on the stomach and/or intestines that helps patients with extreme obesity to lose weight. This is accomplished by either limiting the amount of food a person can consume or a combination of limiting intake as well as altering the way nutrients are absorbed by the body.
Since 2009, Frederick Memorial Hospital has been helping patients on their journey to overcome obesity and to living better, healthier and longer lives. A patient whose body mass index (BMI) is 35 or higher may be a candidate for one of the three types of bariatric procedures performed at FMH.
Gastric bypass is the most commonly thought of procedure when bariatric surgery is mentioned. The bypass restricts food intake by creating a small pouch with a portion of the top of the stomach. It also decreases how food is absorbed because the lower portion of the stomach – the duodenum – that is involved with some of the absorption of calories and nutrients is bypassed by connecting the small intestine directly to the newly formed pouch.
Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy
A vertical sleeve gastrectomy is a procedure that works mainly by reducing stomach volume – approximately 80 to 85 percent of the stomach is removed, leaving a “sleeve” of the stomach, similar to the shape of a banana. Nutrients and calories are absorbed from food normally, but patients feel full sooner since the size of the stomach has been significantly reduced.
Gastric banding works mainly by decreasing food intake. A small band is placed around the top of the stomach that can then be adjusted by inflating it. This creates a small pouch out of the top of the stomach, limiting the amount of food a patient can eat at one time. This band can then be inflated or deflated to meet the needs of the patient.
Some people may think that bariatric surgery is the “easy way” to lose weight. There is no easy way to lose weight and there is no guaranteed method, including surgery, to produce and maintain weight loss. Whatever method a patient may choose, the individual must be committed to changing their pre-existing habits around diet and exercise and be willing to continue this for the rest of their lives. If you are considering bariatric surgery, FMH is here to assist you in reaching your goals.
Although most patients enjoy improved mobility, a better self-image and heightened self esteem after weight loss surgery, these results should not be the overriding motivation for having the procedure, says Dr. Stephen McKenna, Medical Director of Bariatric Surgery at FMH. "First and foremost, our goal is to help patients live better, healthier and longer. People who are living with obesity have gone through a lot," says Dr. McKenna. "They feel terrible physically, and they are often very ashamed about how many times they have failed to take the weight off. I want people to know that they are not alone, and that there are options that we can consider and discuss."