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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
Louisville, 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 Dr. Robert Farrell, KentuckyOne Health Weight Loss and Surgery Associates. “The impact of obesity-related conditions, like diabetes and heart disease, truly is staggering. We want to educate people about the bariatric surgeries 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 surgery 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. In gastric bypass surgery, 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 a hole 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.
The gastric sleeve has recently become the most popular bariatric surgery. In a gastric sleeve procedure, 80 percent of the stomach is removed, but there is no re-routing of the intestinal track. In this case, the remaining stomach is a tubular pouch that resembles a banana. Food consumption is restricted.
Gastric banding is a restrictive laparoscopic procedure in which an expandable 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, and no part of the stomach is removed.
Gastric band procedure is an outpatient surgery. A gastric band patient can usually return to work within one to two weeks. For those undergoing a gastric bypass or sleeve procedure, recovery time is about two to six weeks.
ORBERA Intragastric Balloon
A newer, nonsurgical procedure is also available to those who have a BMI of 30-40, which is lower than those typically undergoing bariatric surgery. During the noninvasive procedure, a soft balloon called the ORBERA Intragastric Balloon is temporarily placed into the patient’s stomach without any incisions or surgery. The balloon takes up space in the stomach, and encourages the body to adapt to a healthier portion size.
“All of these weight loss surgeries or procedures are simply tools in the bigger picture of overall lifestyle changes,” said John Olsofka, MD, Louisville Surgical Associates, affiliated with KentuckyOne Health. “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 talk with their doctor about which procedure might be right for them.”
To learn more about bariatric surgery options, visit kentuckyonehealth.org/weight-loss-surgery.
About KentuckyOne Health
KentuckyOne Health, the largest and most comprehensive health system in the Commonwealth, has more than 200 locations, including hospitals, physician groups, clinics, primary care centers, specialty institutes and home health agencies in Kentucky and southern Indiana. KentuckyOne Health is dedicated to bringing wellness, healing and hope to all, including the underserved. The system is made up of the former Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare and Saint Joseph Health System, along with the University of Louisville Hospital and James Graham Brown Cancer Center. KentuckyOne Health is proud of and strengthened by its Catholic, Jewish and academic heritages.