The Facts and Misconceptions of Bariatric Surgery

Think You Know Bariatric Surgery?

Take our quiz and see if you can tell the facts from the falsehoods

 

Being overweight is a common problem for many of us and the health risks that can go along with excessive weight can far outweigh any aesthetic concerns we might have. When weight loss begins to impact your lifestyle and wellness, weight loss might be necessary. Bariatric surgery is an option that has evolved significantly since it was first introduced in the 1950s. But our knowledge of it might still be stuck in the past. See how much you know about today’s surgical weight loss options with our quick quiz.

Dr. Leonardo Claros, Chief of Bariatric Surgery at St. Luke’s Weight Management Center.

True or False: There’s only one type of bariatric surgery.

False. “We don’t offer just one option and say,  ‘everyone gets the same thing,’” explains Dr. Leonardo Claros, Chief of Bariatric Surgery at St. Luke’s Weight Management Center. “We tailor  treatments specifically to the needs of the patient.” He says that’s the advantage of scheduling a consultation with a well recognized accredited center. “We take each patient individually and we tailor a treatment to their specific needs.” There are two main options to consider: sleeve gastrectomy is the most common performed laparoscopic bariatric surgery in the U.S. today, which has pulled far ahead of gastric bypass, which most people think of when they hear weight loss surgery. Dr. Claros says the popularity of sleeve gastrectomy is due to it being a less complicated procedure than gastric bypass with similarly successful results.

 

True or false: Your weight is the only factor considered when choosing a surgery option.

False. “For example,” says Dr. Claros, “if someone has a history of long-term diabetes hypertension, if they’ve had multiple conditions for many years and their BMI is high, well then that patient would be better served with gastric bypass. If you have someone who is younger who might not have some of those conditions and their BMI is fairly low, well then that patient would be better served with a sleeve gastrectomy.”

 

True or False. Medical weight loss centers only perform surgery.

False. Centers like St. Luke’s Weight Management Center not only offer bariatric surgery, but also a host of other options involving dieticians, social workers and counselors. They also offer a unique non-surgical procedure called a balloon system. “We are the only center in Lehigh Valley that we know of that currently offers a gastric balloon that is a non-surgical procedure,” explains Dr. Claros. “We don’t make any incisions, we don’t make any cuts, the procedure is done entirely endoscopically through the mouth.” An endoscope is used like in an endoscopy to place a balloon inside the stomach, which is then filled with fluid to essentially “fill up” a portion of the stomach. “That’s going to decrease the amount of food patients can eat and for that reason they lose weight. We have this operation reserved for patients who would not qualify otherwise for a bariatric operation,” adds Dr. Claros.

 

True or False: Insurance never pays for weight loss surgery.

False. Although every insurance is different and you should check what your plan’s policies are, your condition may qualify for insurance to cover it. First find out your BMI (Google: BMI calculator and put in your height and weight to get your BMI ratio). Patients with a BMI of between 35-40 who have another condition like sleep apnea or high blood pressure are likely to have insurance cover the cost of their surgery. A patient with a BMI greater than 40 will most likely not need to have other conditions for surgery to be covered.  

 

True or False: Surgery is a lazy way out when you don’t want to do the work of exercising.

False. “I laugh when people say “I shouldn’t take the easy way out.” This isn’t an easy way, that’s a lot of misinformation,” says Dr. Claros. “Those individuals that say this don’t have any idea of what our patients have to do in order to be successful — it’s hard work.  Dr. Claros says that patients see significant weight loss results, but they need to be compliant with their doctor’s recommendations, such as portion controlling food, eating healthier, increasing physical activity and attending follow-up visits. Dr. Claros gives a rough estimate that over 80% of patients will be successful, with about 20% choosing to not be compliant and follow a healthier lifestyle regime.

 

True or False: Bariatric surgery is a drastic option only suitable for the most extreme obesity cases.

False. “The bariatric operation is the most efficient, effective durable tool that we have,” says Dr. Claros. “The great majority of our patients are women that might be only 100 pounds over weight, but they might have already developed certain issues. This is a metabolic procedure and I’m going to cure your diabetes, I’m going to cure your arthritis, I’m going to cure your hypertension and as a side effect, you’re going to lose weight. The main component is we’re going to make you healthy.”

 

True or False: Bariatric surgery is a safe procedure.

True. Dr. Claros says the safety profile of these procedures, when performed under expert hands in an accredited center, is extremely good. “It’s safer than a gallbladder surgery which patients don’t even think twice about. It’s as safe as a natural childbirth in the United States, but it’s not the same across the board, that’s what we tell patients, you need to look for an experience surgeon, high volume center and an accredited center of excellence. You need to go to a good center.”

 

For more information, visit: www.slhn.org/weightloss