Resolutions of co-morbidities after weight loss surgery

It is estimated that 40 million Americans are overweight and 11.5 million are morbidly obese. More than 25 percent of Americans are obese, and on top of our obesity problem comes a plethora of other health issues.

Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat, based on the height and weight of an adult man or woman. Once calculated, BMI ranges are as follows:

normal = 18.5 to 24.9

overweight = 25.0 to 29.9

obese = 30 to 34.9

severely = 35 to 39.9

morbidly obese = 40 to 50

super obese = 50 and over

The most common co-morbidities that I see in patients with obesity include diabetes, hypertension and sleep apnea. Numerous other health problems that may occur with obesity include asthma, cardiovascular disease, degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis, depression, dyslipidemia, gastroesophageal reflux disease, infertility, lower back pain, metabolic syndrome, mortality, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, obstructive sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, urinary stress incontinence and venous stasis disease.

So, how can you improve these co-morbidities? If you are in one of the overweight or obese categories, losing weight is the most effective way to reduce or eliminate many of them. A healthy lifestyle, including diet and daily exercise, is the key for reducing and preventing many of these obesity-related diseases. Studies have shown that even with minor weight loss, health problems such as hypertension or diabetes greatly improved or eliminated the need for medications.

If you choose the option of surgery for your weight loss journey, there are some staggering statistics, which show the improvement in the main co-morbidities that we see. The three main surgeries that we offer, gastric bypass, gastric band and gastric sleeve, have yielded the following resolutions/improvements:

Gastric bypass - 80 percent diabetes, 60 percent sleep apnea, 48 percent hypertension

Gastric band - 48 percent diabetes, 55 percent sleep apnea, 48 percent hypertension

Gastric sleeve - 75 percent diabetes, 55 percent sleep apnea, 78 percent hypertension

Weight loss also varies with each of the procedures. Within the first year, gastric bypass yields an estimated 65 to 75 percentage of excess weight loss while gastric band produces 20 to 30 percent, and gastric sleeve results in 50 to 60 percent.

With any procedure the patient chooses, one has to remember each is a tool to assist in the weight loss journey. It is through a healthy lifestyle change, including diet and exercise, that will ensure the tool works, and the patient can keep the weight off long term.

If you are overweight or obese and want to make a change, speak first about your best approach with your primary care physician. If you are looking for a new physician, visit www.blountmemorial.org and click on “Find a Doctor.”

If you have a significant amount of weight to lose, with even one or two of the above co-morbidities, weight loss surgery may be an option. There also are non-surgical approaches for losing weight through the Blount Memorial Weight Management Center and the main focus is a change in lifestyle and beginning to make better choices. Many co-morbidities are simply caused by excess weight and low activity. Eliminating even one could extend your life. Consider making a change today by calling my office at 865-984-3413.

Dr. Jonathan Ray is a board-certified surgeon who specializes in bariatric surgery at Blount Memorial Hospital.

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