Is weight-loss surgery right for you?

Some of us have tried it all - every fad diet and exercise program known to man. And although lifestyle changes have been made, it still may feel like nothing is working. So, how do you know if weight loss surgery is a good option for you?

Weight loss surgery is something that should be thoroughly discussed with your physician, and only after you have exhausted all other means of losing weight. Some of the factors that may make you a candidate include:

• A body mass index (BMI) of 35-40, with at least two co-morbidities. This would include health problems caused by obesity, such as diabetes, high blood pressure or sleep apnea

• A BMI of 40 or greater, with no co-morbidities

If bariatric surgery is something that you and your doctor feel is right for you, there are many options. Through Blount Memorial, three different types of bariatric surgeries are offered: gastric bypass, gastric band and gastric sleeve.

• Gastric bypass: With this procedure, stapling creates a small stomach pouch. The remainder of the stomach is not removed, but is completely stapled shut and divided from the stomach pouch. The outlet from this newly formed pouch empties directly into the small intestine, bypassing calorie absorption.

• Gastric band: During this procedure, an adjustable silicone band is placed around the upper part of the stomach to create a small pouch which holds less food, making patients feel full faster and longer.

• Gastric sleeve: With this surgery, a large portion of the stomach is removed, leaving a tube or sleeve shape to the stomach, which also limits the amount of food you can eat.

Because there are so many choices, how do you know which one is right for you? The best way to decide is to research each surgery, talk to your physician and ask what he or she recommends being the best procedure for you. It also can be helpful to attend support groups for each procedure, and talk with patients who have had each surgery.

Weight loss surgery can improve your quality and quantity of life. We often see patients who experience drastic health improvements with their diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep apnea. I have even seen some patients come off of all of their medications.

Bariatric surgery also can change your life by improving your mental and emotional health. We see patients’ self-esteem improve after losing weight, and they become more confident and secure. Also, many patients who were unable to work due to their weight have gone back to work or school.

If weight loss surgery seems like a good option, schedule an appointment to discuss your weight loss goals with your physician. If your doctor agrees that surgery is the right path, check out a free weight loss seminar to gain knowledge on all of the surgeries. Join bariatric surgeons Dr. Mark Colquitt and Dr. Jonathan Ray at one of their many seminars, “It’s Your Time Lecture Series.” For more information or to register for a seminar, call the Blount Memorial Weight Management Center at 865-977-4673.

Also, weight loss surgery patients will be sharing their success stories at the eighth annual bariatric fashion show, “Celebrate In Style,” on Thursday, Dec. 9 at the Airport Hilton in Alcoa. Light hors d’oeuvres will be served at 6 p.m. and the program will begin at 7 p.m. The event is hosted by the Weight Management Center and Foothills Weight Loss Specialists. RSVP today by calling Dana Bradley at 865-980-5046.

Dana Bradley is a registered nurse, certified bariatric nurse, certified diabetes educator and bariatric coordinator for the Blount Memorial Weight Management Center.

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