By Juan C. Gutierrez, M.D.
Board Certified in General Surgery
In the final hours of December 31, 2015, millions of people across the United States will unknowingly join together in making that all-too-common resolution, “This is the year that I’m finally going to lose this extra weight!” Some will succeed, but unfortunately, many will not despite a valid effort at healthy eating and regular exercise. This should never be regarded as a failure – our bodies are programmed to store fat, and some of us do it better than others. If you have a body mass index greater than 30 or are more than 100 pounds overweight, there is no better time to consider your weight loss options for the coming months.
Obesity has become a major health crisis in this country – approximately 78.6 million U.S. adults are considered obese. The greatest dangers of obesity are the associated medical problems such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes mellitus, sleep apnea, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and certain types of cancer. Obesity is no longer considered a cosmetic issue that is caused by overeating and a lack of self-control, but rather a chronic, progressive disease resulting from multiple environmental and genetic factors, affecting all ages, races, and levels of income. Like any other disease, there are effective treatments for obesity when diet and exercise aren’t enough. In fact, the National Institutes of Health recognizes that long term weight loss is nearly impossible for those affected by severe obesity by any means other than metabolic and bariatric surgery.
There are several surgical options available, which must be personalized to each individual patient. The two most common operations being performed at most centers today are the sleeve gastrectomy and the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. The sleeve is performed removing the outer two-thirds of the stomach and creating a thin banana-shaped stomach with much less room for solids and liquids. The gastric bypass reduces the size of the stomach to a small pouch and bypasses some of the small intestine to avoid the food stream and enzymes needed for digestion and absorption. Regardless of the operation performed, most patients can expect to lose at least 60-70 percent of their excess weight, as well as see an improvement or even a complete resolution of most of their obesity-related medical conditions.
The field of bariatric surgery has seen significant advances with the development of minimally invasive techniques. These procedures are now performed with tiny instruments through 5 or 6 small incisions less than one half-inch long. This results in less scarring for the patient as well as decreased pain after the surgery, decreased risk of hernias and wound infections, and a quicker return to work and normal activities. Most patients are able to go home in one or two days.
The patient also receives an individually tailored support program through a team of experts – which may include a dietitian, psychologist and exercise physiologist – to help keep them motivated, coordinate their program and help them work through weight loss barriers to meet their long-term weight loss goals. After 6 months the balloon is then removed, and patients continue on a diet and exercise plan with excellent long-term results. In fact, U.S studies have shown that within only six months, most patients lose an average of 300% more weight with the balloon procedure than is achieved with diet and exercise alone. For more than 20 years, the global medical community has been using intragastric balloons to help thousands of people lose weight. More than 220,000 balloons have been distributed worldwide in over 80 countries. It has been proven to be both safe and effective through numerous long-term scientific studies conducted worldwide.
As the New Year begins, make the decision to take an active role in your health for a better life. If you are concerned about your weight and the impact it may be having on your health, schedule a consultation today to see if weight loss surgery or the new non-surgical gastric balloon may be right for you.
Dr. Gutierrez is board-certified in general surgery by the American Board of Surgery and is an Assistant Professor of Surgery at the University of Central Florida. He specializes in minimally invasive approaches to both bariatric and general surgical procedures.
Munroe Regional Medical Center
1511 SW 1st Avenue
Ocala, FL 34471