Weight loss surgery should not be taken lightly

Bariatric surgery, also known as weight loss surgery, is increasing in popularity among Americans. Before going to the operating room, there are certain necessary steps to be taken — including a trip to a local gym.

The two most common forms of bariatric surgery are gastric bypass and laparoscopic banding.
The gastric bypass involves altering the digestive tract so that fewer calories are absorbed and the patient feels full more quickly.

Gastric banding is a less permanent approach where a band is placed around the stomach. The band can be tightened by injecting saline at different times.

Surgical candidates must have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more. This is the equivalent of a 5-foot, 10-inch person weighing 285 pounds. If the person has an obesity-related illness (diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol), a BMI of 35 is acceptable.

“All potential patients must undergo extensive pre-surgical evaluations including psychological, dietary and exercise counseling,” said Dr. Carlos Barba, a bariatric surgeon and director of the bariatric surgery program at the Hospital of Central Connecticut. Dr. Barba believes that surgery is only part of the program and the most common cause of failure is a lack of commitment.

Exercise is crucial to any weight loss program. The type of exercise is variable. Consultation with a personal trainer is advisable. Morbidly obese patients may begin with an aquatic program where they are buoyant and progress to walking and weight lifting. Many arthritic patients use a low impact routine that may include recumbent cycling.

Bariatric surgery has helped many people eliminate risk factors for heart attack, stroke and cancer but weight loss surgery is not a “quick fix,” it is an invitation to a life-long commitment to fitness.

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