Health Column: Year brings new weight loss goals and surgical procedure

Dr. Mark Colquitt

Dr. Mark Colquitt

As we settle into the new year, losing weight becomes the top priority. Yet, there’s confusion about the many options available. The doctor probably has encouraged you to lose weight, and may even have suggested a diet plan or prescribed a weight loss medication. The results have, no doubt, been the same; you’ve managed to lose some weight, only to see it return.

As a doctor, I know that weight loss is, by far, the most powerful therapy we have in medicine today. Weight loss can drastically reduce or eliminate many health problems. It can improve your quality of life and even protect you from dying prematurely. The problem is that it can require a surgical procedure to accomplish a sustained and significant weight loss.

The thought of consenting to surgery to lose weight frightens many people. When my colleague and I began our weight loss surgery program in 2002, we had the confidence that we could develop a safe and effective bariatric, weight loss, surgery program. After more than 650 procedures and more than 50,000 pounds of weight loss with our patients, we are proud that we can continue to offer our services to the people of East Tennessee in a safe and effective manner. Through our partnership with Blount Memorial Hospital, we have been designated a bariatric center of excellence, one of only three in East Tennessee.

Until recently, we have offered only two surgical weight loss procedures - the laparoscopic gastric bypass and the laparoscopic adjustable gastric band, or Lap-Band. The newest procedure is the laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy. We are confident the new procedure will offer patients another option for achieving weight loss goals. The sleeve gastrectomy has been called the “in between” procedure, meaning that it has effects and attributes that lie somewhere between those of the Lap-Band and the gastric bypass offerings, and weight loss expectations and risks are “in between” the two other procedures.

The sleeve portion of the name refers to the transformation of the normal stomach into a slender sleeve or tube that creates a pouch where food is held until it passes into the intestines. The effect is to restrict the portion size of your meal. As the sleeve fills with food, you will have the sensation of fullness and loss of hunger. Any type of bariatric operation that limits portion size is called a restrictive procedure, and as a result of the decreased portion size, weight loss occurs.

Does this mean that if you have one of these procedures, your weight-related health problems will be solved and you’ll have a normal, healthy life? No. By choosing bariatric surgery, you enter into a partnership with your surgeon and bariatric team that begins before surgery and extends through the end of your life. We always tell our patients that we care as much about what they weigh next year as what they weigh 20 years from now.

For more information, visit our Web site at, or call 865-977-4673 or 866-300-8644 to attend an informational seminar.

Dr. Mark Colquitt is a board-certified general surgeon with Foothills Weight Loss Specialists. Colquitt performs several surgical weight loss procedures -- including the gastric bypass, gastric sleeve and LAP-BAND procedures -- through the Blount Memorial Weight Management Center’s bariatric surgery center of excellence.

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