Is Weight Loss Surgery Right for Me?

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You’ve tried everything to lose weight, but you’re still having a difficult time. Could it be time to consider weight loss surgery, also called bariatric surgery?

According to John A. Dietrick, MD, FACS, bariatric surgeon at Bariatric Surgery at AdventHealth Tampa, the average patient has been considering bariatric surgery for about 18 months before coming in to see him.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Bariatric surgery should not be entered into lightly.

“Patients need to be willing to make changes in their lifestyle,” Dr. Dietrick says. “The surgery sets patients up for success, but if they don’t make changes, they won’t lose as much as they could or they may gain weight back,” he continues.

In deciding to have weight loss surgery, you will need to find out if you are a candidate for it and if your insurance will cover the procedure.

Am I a Candidate for Bariatric Surgery at AdventHealth Tampa?

According to Dr. Dietrick, all bariatric surgeons have the same set of criteria they use to determine who qualifies for a weight loss procedure. These are the standard criteria issued by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, a professional group that bariatric surgeons in the U.S. belong to.

Generally, people qualify for bariatric surgery if they have a BMI of over 40 or a BMI between 35 and 40 with a medical condition that can be attributed to the excess weight. BMI – an abbreviation for “body mass index” – is calculated by dividing your weight by the square of your height with the metric system.

An easy way to determine your BMI is to find a BMI chart or calculator online.

“It is common for people with excess weight to have medical problems associated with it,” says Dr. Dietrick. These problems include conditions that will improve or resolve with weight loss: sleep apnea, diabetes, coronary artery disease and high blood pressure. Depending on one’s insurance plan, bariatric surgery may also be covered for conditions such as high cholesterol, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or severe osteoarthritis caused by bearing extra weight.

Another factor to consider is that every insurance plan requires a person considering bariatric surgery to first try a diet supervised by a professional – a physician, nutritionist or dietitian. Bariatric Surgery at AdventHealth Tampa has two registered dietitians on its team to help patients adopt these diets. Insurance companies generally require these supervised diets for three to six months immediately before they authorize bariatric surgery. The supervised diet is important because it allows patients the opportunity to practice the new lifestyle habits necessary for losing weight after bariatric surgery.

How Much Weight Will I Lose with Bariatric Surgery?

The amount of weight that patients lose after bariatric surgery can be predicted, but the individual patient has the most influence over this. Dr. Dietrick describes bariatric surgery as a tool. “And like any other tool, the success is in the user.” He uses the example of a shovel and asks how deep a hole this shovel can dig. The answer is that it depends on the person using the shovel. This is the same for bariatric surgery.

A team of professionals at the Bariatric Surgery at AdventHealth Tampa train patients how to use their bariatric operation. If they use it properly by eating the recommended types and portions of food, supplement with the right vitamins and minerals, exercise and be mindful of their health, they will achieve lasting success.

“Most of our patients lose between 60 to 80 percent of their excess weight,” Dr. Dietrick says. He explains that weight loss is measured by the percentage of weight lost rather than in pounds. For example, if a person starting at 400 lbs. loses half of their weight, they will lose 200 lbs., whereas someone who starts at Call250-lbs-will only lose 125 lbs. While it may seem as if the first person lost more, both people lost 50 percent of their weight.

Is Bariatric Surgery Safe?

Dr. Dietrick explains that there is a public misconception that bariatric surgery is dangerous. However, today the procedures that he, John Paul Gonzalvo, DO, FACS and Michel Murr, MD, FACS, fellow bariatric surgeons at Bariatric Surgery at AdventHealth Tampa, use are very safe and effective.

“The first intestinal bypasses were done in the 1960s but not very often,” says Dr. Dietrick. In the 1980s, bariatric surgery became more common. “The gastric bypass we do today was developed in the 1980s and has stood the test of time,” he continues.

Today, most of the procedures offered at Bariatric Surgery at AdventHealth Tampa are performed as minimally invasive surgery, an approach that emerged in general surgery in the 1990s. This means that surgeons use long, thin tools and a few small cuts on the skin to perform the operation. Without a large abdominal incision, patients heal more quickly with less pain. Most patients leave the hospital on the day after their operation and are back to work in one or two weeks.

“Bariatric surgery – at our hospital for example – is one of the safest abdominal operations you can have,” Dr. Dietrick says. He attributes this to the quality improvement programs spurred on by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgeons (ASMBS) to improve the quality of bariatric surgery. Through its Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP), the ASMBS and American College of Surgeons issue strict criteria for bariatric surgery programs. Finding an MBSAQIP-accredited bariatric surgery program, such as the one at the AdventHealth Tampa, ensures surgeons perform a high volume of bariatric operations with excellent outcomes. This can help put one’s mind at ease that one will have a good experience.

If you want to know more about bariatric surgery, schedule a consultation at the Bariatric Surgery at AdventHealth Tampa at two convenient locations in Tampa and Brandon. For an appointment, call Call813-971-2470.

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