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Sharon Hershberger, Director, Public Affairs
For Those Struggling with Obesity, Weight Loss Surgeries are an Option in the New Year
Thirty-five percent of Kentuckians are obese, a condition that carries many health risks
London, Ky. (Jan. 12, 2017) – With the new year here, many people are eager to turn over a new leaf for 2017. Kentucky has the fifth-highest obesity rate in the country, with nearly 35 percent of Kentucky adults considered obese. For many who are battling the health risks that accompany obesity – such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure – weight loss is often a priority.
This January, KentuckyOne Health is working to educate Kentuckians on the dangers of obesity, and the surgical options available to those who have been unsuccessful at losing weight through lifestyle changes alone.
“Obesity is the second leading cause of death in the United States, just behind smoking,” said Joshua Steiner, MD, KentuckyOne Health Weight Loss Surgery at Saint Joseph East. “The impact of obesity-related conditions, like diabetes and heart disease, truly is staggering. We want to educate people about the bariatric procedures that may help when other options, like diet and exercise alone, have failed.”
In order to qualify for most weight loss surgery options, patients must meet particular obesity requirements based upon body mass index, or BMI. If a person’s weight in kilograms, divided by the square of height in meters, is 30 or higher, it falls within the obese range. Those with lower BMIs may fall into the overweight category, normal category, or underweight category and may not qualify for bariatric surgeries.
Bariatric surgery encompasses a family of weight loss procedures that physically restrict the amount of food a person can consume. Many bariatric procedure options exist for patients today. Gastric bypass, gastric sleeve and gastric banding procedures are common surgical options. Choosing the best procedure for each patient depends upon multiple factors, such as existing medical conditions, medications needed, past surgical procedures, eating behaviors, rate of weight loss desired, activity level or limitations.
Gastric bypass surgery is a restrictive procedure and leads to rapid weight loss. It has led to impressive results in type 2 diabetics, even reversing the disease for many. During gastric bypass, the stomach is made smaller by stapling it into a smaller upper section (where the food will go). This small pouch ends up being about the size of an egg. Using a laparoscope, the surgeon connects part of the small intestine to an opening in this pouch, allowing the food to travel from the pouch into the small intestine.
Because of the re-routing, the surgery restricts the amount of food a person can consume, but it also reduces the absorption of nutrients and calories.
In a gastric sleeve procedure, 80 percent of the stomach is removed, but there is no re-routing. In this case, the remaining stomach is a tubular pouch about the size of a banana. Food consumption is restricted.
Gastric banding is a restrictive laparoscopic procedure in which an inflatable band is placed around the top of the stomach so that food is passed at a slower rate. The band size can be adjusted for each patient.
Gastric band procedure is an outpatient surgery, while the gastric bypass and sleeve procedures require a one night hospital stay. All surgical patients may return to work within two weeks.
“All of these weight loss procedures are simply tools in the bigger picture of overall lifestyle changes,” said Thomas Greenlee, MD, KentuckyOne Health Weight Loss Surgery at Saint Joseph East. “Patients who undergo weight loss surgery must work hard both before and after surgery. They need to educate themselves, undergo pre-operative screenings, and implement healthy lifestyle changes post-surgery. Patients should examine their goals and be determined to make positive changes.”
To learn more about bariatric surgery options, visit kentuckyonehealth.org/weight-loss-surgery or call 859.967.5520.