Get the facts about obesity and weight loss surgery
Have questions about obesity and weight loss surgery? Vadim Gritsus, MD, director of bariatric surgery for Chilton Medical Center, breaks down the truths about this growing health epidemic and different weight loss options. Dr. Gritsus is a recognized expert in bariatric surgery, laparoscopic and minimally invasive surgery, as well as surgical endoscopy.
What Is Obesity?
Obesity is among the most pervasive chronic diseases and a leading cause of mortality, morbidity, disability and rising health care costs in the United States today. Obesity is a complex disease involving genetic, environmental, physiological and emotional factors. When a person cannot lose weight through diet or exercise, or when obesity is causing serious health problems, medical help is available in the form of bariatric surgery – also known as weight loss surgery.
What Causes Obesity?
There are many environmental, physiological, genetic and emotional reasons why people become obese. Some of the most common causes include excess calorie consumption, sedentary lifestyles, insufficient sleep, commonly prescribed medications and having the obesity gene.
Can Obesity Be Treated?
Treatment for obesity will vary from person to person, depending on the factors contributing to the disease. When you begin an obesity treatment program, there may be several different specialists involved in your treatment.
For example, an endocrinologist may treat thyroid conditions or type 2 diabetes; a dietitian or nutritionist provides guidance in developing healthier eating habits; and a bariatric surgeon will recommend weight loss surgery, if necessary.
Am I a Candidate for Weight Loss Surgery?
Obesity is a major risk factor for a number of life-threatening diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), cancer, obstructive sleep apnea and stroke. The good news is that significant weight loss can reduce or eliminate the risk of death. Within a matter of months after bariatric surgery, many patients are able to discontinue their medications for these serious conditions.
If you have tried other weight loss methods and they have not worked for you, weight loss surgery may be recommended if the following apply to you:
- You are more than 100 pounds overweight
- Your body mass index (BMI) is 40 or higher
- You have a BMI of 35 to 39.9 and also have a serious weight-related health condition
- You are committed to making lifestyle changes in combination with the surgery
Bariatric surgery is not a guarantee that you will lose all of your excess fat, or that you will keep it off long term. Success after the surgery depends on your commitment to changing your exercise and eating habits while maintaining those changes.