Is Surgical Weight Loss an Option?

Losing the weight and keeping it off can be a challenge, the important thing is to know what your options are.

Making lifestyle changes is the first step.  

“It’s important to try to change your lifestyle, eat healthy and increase your activity level,” said Dr. Erica Podoloski, Medical Director Surgical Weight Loss, of Delray Medical Center. “There are clear indications for Bariatric surgery. What we’ve found is after a person reaches approximately 100 pounds overweight or a BMI of 35. It becomes almost impossible to have durable long term weight loss.”

According to Podoloski, at this point the metabolism is so slow, every time the individual tries to diet their metabolism slows down. They’ll have some weight loss, but they tend to regain 10 percent of weight every time they diet.

It’s important to know all the facts before choosing weight loss surgery. 

“It’s important for the person to prove to themselves that they can commit,” Podoloski says. “Although, they need an extra tool; it’s important to not feel like it’s an easy way out. It’s definitely a huge commitment and takes a lot of dedication.”

All participants must meet certain criteria before qualifying for the weight loss surgery. The accepted criteria, in which your insurance will cover the procedure is based on Body Mass Index and weight ratio. A BMI above 35 accompanied with diabetes or hypertension is one way. Some other conditions you may not think about include reflux, arthritis or polycystic ovary disease. Patients with a BMI over 40 alone also meets the criteria.

Patients must fully understand the process from beginning to end.

“We require nutritional counseling before any surgery,” said Podoloski. “Both, to go over current lifestyle and what changes to expect. Also, a visit with a psychologist, just to realize the stressors of how someone becomes overweight and if you have a relationship or addiction to food and how the relationship is going to change after surgery. Hopefully, that can continue after surgery. People that recognize that really do the best.”

For patients contemplating conceiving in the near future.

“I think the surgery beforehand is a better idea than waiting until afterwards,” said Podoloski. “Obesity is associated with a lot of complications so it would make the pregnancy harder adding the chance of developing gestational diabetes and the chance of delivery harder.”

For women battling with infertility, surgical weight loss adds an extra incentive.

“The surgery increases fertility,” says Podoloski. “We see a lot of young women especially if they have Polycystic ovary syndrome, the surgery actually improves that. Instead of going through in vitro or other fertility treatments, if they’re obese the surgery does increase fertility. Also, for women, the risk of developing gynecological cancers is lowered with Bariatric surgery.”

A long road ahead.

“We really stress that this isn’t an easy fix,” said Podoloski. “A lot of people think they’re going to wake up looking like a different person and things are going to be easy. That’s something to consider beforehand. I think that’s why it’s important to have tried some diets and failed them.”

Speedy recovery.

“The surgeries are rapid recovery surgeries,” says Podoloski. “The surgery takes about an hour. It’s a laparoscopic procedure so the incisions are small. Typically, patients can walk right after. They spend maybe two nights in the hospital, but that night their up walking the hallways. Afterwards, they start with a liquid diet. It takes a few weeks to get back to a regular evenly spaced diet. Besides staying on a multi-vitamin regimen, there’s no specific diet. It’s just a real high protein and low carb diet; evenly spaced throughout the day.”

It’s all about portion control.

“If you’re used to going out and eating that’s something that should change before surgery,” said Podoloski. “A lot of patient’s comment that they save a good amount of money afterwards, because instead of eating a three-course meal they’ll eat a small portion for dinner. That’s just another advantage.”

Say goodbye to the high prescription costs.

“The surgery cures diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and reflux,” said Podoloski. “So, a lot of people on multiple medications afterwards, they don’t need to take those medications which have their own side effects and they also save money on their prescriptions.”

Patients agree that it’s a huge commitment, but worth it.

“It’s a hard decision to come to, you literally have to change your whole life,” said Melanie Moore, Sleeve Gastrectomy recipient. “A lot of people like to say it’s an easy way out, this is by far the hardest thing. It’s a tool, it’s not the end all be all; you can’t just get the surgery and be skinny.”

surgical weight loss
Photo Courtesy of Melanie Moore-Sleeve Gastrectomy.

Exercise plays a huge role in the weight loss journey.

“I’ve never looked at so many nutrition labels in my entire life,” said Moore. “I went from no exercise to exercising nearly every day.  I have two different personal trainers, I do a variety of workout videos at home and I belong to a gym. It’s a whole lifestyle change, is the best way to describe it.”

Recommend the surgery.

“I have lost 104 pounds and I had surgery May 24, 2017,” said Moore. “I wanted to be able to go up a flight of stairs without huffing and puffing. I needed to be able to prolong my life, to be here for my kid. The path I was going down was definitely taking years off my life.”



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