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If you struggle to maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise or have serious health problems caused by obesity, weight loss surgery may be the right option. It’s a big step, however, and you’re certainly not alone if you are having trouble deciding whether its right for you.
We caught up with Lori Hicks, Coordinator for Mercy Hospital’s Weight Loss Surgery Program. Lori weighs in on the benefits of bariatric surgery and shares why you should consider Mercy Hospital’s weight loss program when you’re ready to take that step to a healthier life.
Q: Mercy Hospital’s Weight Loss Surgery Program is accredited by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (MBSAQIP). Why is that important?
The MBSAQIP sets national standards for bariatric surgery centers with the goal of providing safe and high-quality care for patients. This designation means that Mercy Hospital is giving the highest standard of care to our patients. This includes additional education for our staff and advanced technology in our surgery center.
Q: What are the different types of weight-loss surgeries offered at Mercy Hospital?
We offer the sleeve gastrectomy and the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. The Roux-en-Y gastric bypass is often done as a laparoscopic surgery, with small incisions in the abdomen. This surgery reduces the size of your upper stomach to a small pouch about the size of an egg and bypasses a small portion of the intestines. The sleeve gastrectomy reduces the stomach to about 15% of its original size leaving a tube-shaped stomach about the size of a banana.
Q: Who is a candidate for weight loss surgery?
Candidates for weight loss surgery are based on their body mass index (BMI). A patient with a BMI greater than 35 with at least one obesity-related condition such as diabetes, high blood pressure or sleep apnea would qualify for weight loss surgery. Patients with a BMI of 40 will also qualify for surgery with or without a related condition. Generally, most of these patients are about 100 pounds overweight.
Q: Does your primary care physician have to refer you?
Yes, most insurance companies require a referral from a primary care physician for patients to have a consultation with a bariatric surgeon.
Q: What significant health risks can be reduced with bariatric surgery?
The most common health risks that can be reduced or eliminated are Type II Diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and sleep apnea. It can also help reduce a patient’s risk of getting cancer and premature death.
Q: Besides losing the weight, what are some other benefits of weight loss surgery that people may not think about?
Benefits can include improved fertility, joint pain relief, and increased energy. Many patients can have other much-needed surgeries that they weren’t good candidates for before losing the weight, such as orthopedic surgery
Q: What are some of the lifestyle changes someone should consider before deciding to have a weight loss procedure?
Patients are expected to start living a healthier lifestyle. They should start eating a healthier diet and begin an exercise routine or increase their level of physical activity. These things are required prior to surgery and should be maintained after surgery.
Q: It must be very rewarding to see how this program changes people’s lives. What is the best thing about your job?
It’s really gratifying to see patients reach their goals. I had one patient who wanted to be able to tie her shoes without getting winded. I had another patient who wanted to be able to fly in a plane without taking up two seats. Sometimes we take for granted being able to do simple things. I encourage my patients to write down their goals prior to surgery so they can look back and reflect on how far they’ve come. Most patients are losing about 65 pounds in the first years after surgery.
Q: What advice do you have for someone reading this article and thinking about weight loss surgery but is afraid to take that first step?
I would encourage them to discuss it with their family and friends. Support from those closest to you is really important in this weight loss journey. Also, for more information, you can attend a free seminar at Mercy Hospital. The seminars are held on the first Wednesday of every month at 6pm, with a bariatric Surgeon on hand to answer any questions you have.