Q&A with Ajay Goyal, MD, FACS, director of bariatric surgery for Hackettstown Medical Center
Q: Is weight loss surgery right for me?
A: The decision to have weight loss surgery is a life-changing moment. Most of my patients can recall the exact moment they decided to take charge of their weight and their health. For some, it was finding out they had type 2 diabetes. For others, it was the realization they couldn’t keep up with their child on the playground. Whatever that moment is for you, if you’re thinking about gastric bypass or gastric sleeve, here are some ways you can determine whether bariatric surgery is right for you and some steps you should take before scheduling your first appointment.
1. Find Out If You Qualify
The first qualifying factor you’ll look at is your body mass index, or BMI, which is a calculation based on your height and weight. You can find a BMI calculator online at njbariatriccenter.com. If your BMI is 40 or above, you meet the first clinical qualification for bariatric surgery. If your BMI is between 35 and 39.9, you may be a candidate if you also have an obesity-related illness, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or sleep apnea. Since surgery is only a tool, your doctor will also want to know that you are committed to the lifestyle changes and follow-up visits required after undergoing a bariatric procedure.
2. Learn About the Procedures
At Hackettstown Medical Center, we provide free online information sessions on bariatric surgery, where you can learn about the most commonly performed procedures – gastric sleeve and gastric bypass – and how they work to help you lose weight. We review the risks and benefits of each surgery so you can make an informed decision. We talk about the type of diet you’ll need to adhere to after surgery. The session will give you all the information you need to decide whether surgery is right for you and which procedure you are most interested in so if you decide to schedule an appointment, you can have a productive conversation with your surgeon on your first visit.
3. Talk to Your Support System
Having a support system can help you stay focused on your weight loss goal. Your ultimate weight loss success lies with you, but your family and friends play a large role. From the simplest family dinner to large holiday celebrations, food and family are closely linked. Having the support of your loved ones goes a long way. In fact, I have many patients who say their whole family got healthier after their weight loss surgery.
4. Understand COVID-19 and Obesity
The current pandemic highlights the effects obesity has on our health. Obesity (BMI greater than 30) is on the CDC’s list of factors that put people at a higher risk for complications from COVID-19. Obesity is known to alter your immune response and decrease your body’s ability to fight infection. Taking the necessary steps to lose weight and improve your health increases your body’s ability to fight many diseases and viruses.
Weight loss surgery is a lifelong commitment. With preparation, a support system and in partnership with your surgeon, you will be ready to decide whether bariatric surgery is the best choice for your life and your health.
Ajay Goyal, MD, FACS, is the director of bariatric surgery for Hackettstown Medical Center. Dr. Goyal can be reached at 908-481-1270. Find out more information about Dr. Goyal and Atlantic Health System-affiliated providers >