Ask The Doc - Bariatric Surgery

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Question: How do I know if bariatric surgery is right for me?

By Dr. Joseph Regan, MD, Bariatric Surgery, Columbia St. Mary’s and Madison Medical Affiliates.

Obesity is a major public health issue in the United States, affecting more than 78.6 million adults. That’s more than one-third of the adult population battling obesity.

While startling, these stats, unfortunately, aren’t surprising. Dieting is a billion dollar industry. But for many people, diet and exercise aren’t enough. That’s where Columbia St. Mary’s Bariatric Center can help.

Columbia St. Mary’s Bariatric Center offers comprehensive care before, during and after weight-loss surgery. Team members include the medical director, who is fellowship trained in bariatric surgery and laparoscopic surgery. Specialists in nutrition, psychiatry, gastroenterology, sleep medicine, rehabilitation and endocrinology work together to help patients in their weight-loss journey.

Are You a Candidate for Weight-Loss Surgery?
Bariatric surgery is major surgery and is not appropriate for everyone who wants to lose weight.

You may be a candidate if:

• You have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater.

• You have a BMI of 35-40 and are experiencing health problems associated with obesity, such as diabetes, sleep apnea, hypertension, heart disease and degenerative joint disease.

Before being considered for surgery, you must be evaluated by an experienced medical professional. You must also have tried other weight-loss programs, and be committed to the overall bariatric surgery program, which includes lifestyle changes. Many insurance plans will pay for bariatric surgery and follow-up care.

About Weight-Loss Surgery
Bariatric surgery is recognized by the National Institutes of Health for the treatment of severe obesity. There are three common types:

Gastric Bypass: Often called “Roux-en-Y” gastric bypass, or RYGB. In this procedure, a small stomach pouch is created and then connected to a shorter length of the small intestine.

Most people who have Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery lose 60-80 percent of their excess weight – and they keep it off. It is not uncommon for people who undergo gastric bypass surgery to lose 100 or more pounds over one year. Follow-up studies show that people have maintained that loss for 10 years.

Adjustable Gastric Band: This technique involves placement of a small adjustable band around the top of the stomach, which limits portion size and helps control hunger. With the adjustable gastric band, people lose approximately 50 percent of their excess weight. It is typical for people to reach their goal weight after two years.

Gastric Sleeve: In this option, a surgeon removes 75-85 percent of the stomach and leaves only a narrow section of the upper part of the stomach, called a gastric sleeve. Removal of the majority of the stomach not only restricts the amount of food one can consume but also helps control hunger. Sleeve gastrectomy patients lose approximately 60 percent of their excess weight within one year.

In addition to losing weight, people who undergo weight-loss surgery also reduce or eliminate many health problems associated with obesity such as high blood pressure, degenerative joint disease and diabetes. Some people who take medications for their obesity-related diseases can reduce their intake or eliminate their medicines completely. There are psychological and social benefits as well. Many people gain a more positive outlook on life. They finally “fit in” to a world that had not adapted to their larger size. It’s a whole new way of life!

When considering weight-loss surgery, it is important to discuss all options with your surgeon. An informed discussion about the long-term results with weight loss, the potential complications and the necessary follow-up is critical to making the right decision.

If you’d like more information about bariatric surgery, Columbia St. Mary’s offers free monthly bariatric informational seminars.

During these one-hour seminars, the bariatric team will explain everything you need to know about weight-loss surgery, including the risks and benefits, and help you decide if surgery is the right option for you. You’ll also hear a successful weight-loss experience as told by one of our patients. This is your opportunity to get all your questions about weight-loss surgery answered.

These monthly seminars take place at Water Tower Medical Commons, 2350 N. Lake Dr., and are free and open to the public. Click HERE for the full 2015 schedule. To register, please call 414-963-WELL (9355) or visit

Dr. Joseph Regan is a Bariatric Surgeon at Columbia St. Mary’s and Madison Medical Affiliates. For more information, call CSM’s Bariatric Center at 414-962-BARI (2274).

This article appeared in the February 12 issue of The Ozaukee News Graphic.


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