When should a person consider bariatric surgery?

Bariatric surgery should be considered after conservative treatment of morbid obesity including diet, exercise, drugs and behavioral modification has failed. Surgery for morbid obesity is the only successful method of long-term weight reduction, as well as, significant improvement or complete resolution of co-morbidities (associated diseases – like Type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, cardiovascular disease).

What type of patients turn to Garnet Health Medical Center for help?

Patients seek out Garnet Health Medical Center’s Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence Program after failing to lose weight through traditional means or when attempts at non-surgical treatment for morbid obesity has failed. Some have already begun researching the idea of bariatric surgery via the internet or other means, and others have heard from existing patients to attend one of our free informational seminars.

What criteria determine whether a person is a candidate for bariatric surgery?

At Garnet Health Medical Center, we follow the National Institutes of Health (NIH) guidelines which indicate the following:

  • Body Mass Index (BMI = weight divided by height in meters squared) of ≥40 (@ 100 pounds overweight), or ≥ 35 to 39.9 with at least one other obesity-related disease; i.e., Type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, severe osteoarthritis, cardiac disease including high blood pressure and high cholesterol, polycystic ovary disease, etc. Those with BMI ≥ 30-34.9 can be considered for a gastric Lap-Band ® only and must also have at least one other obesity-related disease to qualify for bariatric surgery.
  • Must have tried and failed conservative treatment and be overweight for a minimum of 5 years.
  • Must be 18 years of age or older.
  • Must be mentally prepared for the procedure without having an eating disorder such as bulimia.

How successful is the surgery?

Results at Garnet Health Medical Center correspond to the national average. In the majority of cases, bariatric surgery patients lose anywhere from 45% to 83% of their excess body weight and improve or resolve 90% of their obesity-related health conditions within one year post-operatively.

Is there more than one weight loss surgical option?

At Garnet Health Medical Center we offer three bariatric surgery options:

Gastric Banding – A procedure where the surgeon places an inflatable and adjustable band around the upper part of the stomach, partitioning it into two parts. The band creates a small opening that allows limited food to pass through each section, resulting in controlled food intake. This means the patient feels full more quickly, while eating less and absorbing fewer calories. This procedure is reversible, but not advisable. If the gastric band is removed, the stomach size reverts back to the size it was prior to the surgery and the patient may regain weight lost.

Gastric Bypass – A procedure that involves the reorganization of the digestive system. The surgeon creates a small pouch in the upper part of the stomach by stapling it together. The surgeon then attaches part of the small intestine to the new pouch, effectively “bypassing” the part of the stomach that has been sealed off. The patient eats less, which causes the body to absorb fewer calories and lose weight. This surgery should be viewed as permanent. Although a bypass can technically be “reversed”, the anatomy is never the same as it was prior to the gastric bypass procedure.

Sleeve Gastrectomy – A procedure that removes approximately seventy-five percent of the stomach and results in less food consumption, causing the patient to eat less and lose weight. Following the surgery, a narrow tube or sleeve of stomach remains which connects to the intestines. There are no nutritional deficiencies as a result of this procedure because it does not affect the absorption of food and the intestines are not affected by the surgery. This procedure is not reversible.

Are there risks with weight loss surgery?

There is always a certain degree of risk involved with any surgery. At Garnet Health Medical Center, all bariatric surgeries are performed as minimally invasive, laparoscopic procedures which decrease risks and complication rates. Risk of mortality has been reduced from 2% with open gastric bypass to 0.5%, the same rate if the patient were having a laparoscopic gall bladder removal. Laparoscopic gastric banding is ten times safer than gastric bypass with a mortality rate of 0.05%. The laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy mortality rate is also low at 0.39%. Other risks (long-term post-surgical complications) are as follows:

The Benefits of bariatric surgery in general are improvement or resolution of Type 2 diabetes, reduction in high blood pressure, resolution of sleep apnea conditions and other sleep disturbances, diminished swelling and pain of legs and joint; many infertile women become pregnant and have a safer pregnancy and delivery; changes in cholesterol and other blood lipids reduce the risk of heart attack and strokes.

Overall, patients improve the quality of their life and increase the amount of years to live.

Are any of the Bariatric Surgery procedures performed using Robotic Surgery?

Certain bariatric procedures can be performed using the robotic-assisted da Vinci Surgical System, however it may not be appropriate for every individual. Always ask your physician about all treatment options, as well as their risks and benefits.