Obesity has become an epidemic. The numbers are staggering. Three in five Americans are either overweight or obese. It is estimated that there are 10 million morbidly obese people in the United States. By some estimates, 400,000 deaths each year can be attributed to obesity. Morbid obesity has passed tobacco as the number one cause of preventable death in the Unites States and while those numbers are staggering, they pale in comparison to the millions of individuals with severe health risks that impact their daily quality of life. These risks include diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, joint problems and pain, heartburn, increased cancer risk, infertility and depression. Further, we sometimes forget the psychological consequences of obesity. This includes discrimination, negative self-image, low self-esteem and social isolation.
We define obesity in terms of BMI or body mass index. A BMI >25 is considered overweight, a BMI > 30 is considered obese, a BMI > 35 is considered severe obesity and a BMI of > 40 is morbid obesity. This number is calculated based on your height and weight. Surgery is offered if the BMI is > 35 and there is at least one significant health problem such as diabetes or sleep apnea. A BMI of 40 or > corresponds to approximately 100 pounds over ideal weight and is usually enough for insurance companies to cover the cost of surgery. This criteria has long been established by the NIH (National Institute of Health). People who are morbidly obese are at greater risk for developing major health problems and dying prematurely.
Unfortunately, medical treatment for obesity is usually unsuccessful. A successful diet and exercise program can be expected to produce about a 20 pound weight loss. This is almost always temporary with inevitable weight regain, exceeding that which was lost. Weight loss drugs produce similar result, but cannot be used long term because of side effects. 2% of patients will be successful losing the amount of weight needed to attain a healthy weight. Weight loss surgery by comparison provides permanent weight loss and will average 60% excess weight loss (example: if 100 pounds overweight, this would be 60 pounds). Surgery is the only viable solution for the morbidly obese person.
Benefits from surgery include 80% resolution of most co-morbid conditions such as diabetes, sleep apnea, hypertension and hyperlipidemia. No other medical treatment available can come close to that kind of results! Further benefits include extended years of life, significantly decreased obesity related costs (medications, food, health related care, lost days at work) and a return to an active lifestyle with friends and family.
There are three primary surgeries being done in the United States: Gastric Bypass, Sleeve Gastrectomy and Lap Band. There are similarities and differences with all three surgeries and you will be educated further at the educational seminar. There are some reasons that one surgery might be preferred over the other. You will discuss this with your surgeon at the time of your consult. We look forward to see you.