Q&A with Ashish Padnani, MD, FACS, FASMBS, medical director of Bariatric Surgery at Morristown Medical Center and bariatric surgeon at Newton Medical Center
Q: If I am interested in weight loss surgery, what are my options and how will it affect my overall health and lifestyle?
A: If you are interested in weight loss surgery, your next step is to talk to your primary care physician and/or your family and friends who have had weight loss surgery and get a consultation with a weight loss/bariatric surgeon.
Laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, intragastric balloon, and laparoscopic duodenal switch are some of the bariatric surgeries. Depending on your weight and weight-related comorbid conditions, your surgeon will discuss with you and decide which surgery is best for you.
Laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy is the most common weight loss surgery performed in the country. About 70% to 80% of primary weight loss surgeries performed these days are sleeve gastrectomies. It is one of the safest and one of the most effective bariatric surgeries.
As you start losing weight after surgery, you will see significant changes in your overall health. Most patients feel an increased sense of self-esteem, confidence and energy. Studies show improvement in high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, heart disease and most of the weight-associated comorbid conditions.
Most patients come off or are able to reduce dose/number of medications for diseases mentioned above. So, it is important to follow up with your primary care practitioner since you may need changes in the dosage of medications after surgery. Studies also show improved life expectancy after weight loss surgery.
Q: Is there a correlation between COVID-19 and obesity?
A: COVID-19 disproportionately affects patients with obesity, independent of other risk factors such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Studies suggest that patients with severe obesity (body mass index over 35) have significantly higher chances of contracting severe COVID and its complications. Patients with severe obesity have a higher chance of ICU admission, mechanical ventilation and death.
Obesity is a pro-inflammatory state where there are low levels of inflammation in the body. COVID-19 virus causes a dysregulated immune response that causes “cytokine storm” and complications associated with COVID-19 infection, which may not be seen commonly in patients with a normal BMI. Weight loss after bariatric surgery helps reduce inflammation in the body, thereby improving overall immunity.