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Understanding Minimally Invasive Gastric Bypass Surgery

Memphis and the Mid-South are the epicenter of obesity in the United States. Those who suffer from obesity are not alone – nearly 40% of adults in this region are obese, and over two-thirds of adults are overweight. Obesity is a complex, multifactorial, chronic, metabolic disease, not just an excess of adipose tissue or lack of willpower. Fat accumulates in the body to the extent that health is impaired. Unfortunately, conventional methods of weight loss often do not work for the obese patient. While dietary modification and exercise can be effective for people who are modestly overweight, they typically do not work on patients who are significantly overweight or obese. This is due to complex hormonal changes and other metabolic issues that occur in obesity, which make it nearly impossible to maintain weight loss. The good news is that there is a treatment for obesity that works not only for weight loss, but for treating the diseases associated with obesity – Bariatric Surgery.

Bariatric, or weight-loss surgery, is for patients who are severely obese, which is defined by a BMI of 40 or more, or a BMI of 35 or more in combination with other health-related conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, or sleep apnea. BMI, or Body Mass Index, is a calculation based on height and weight. The two most common procedures performed in the U.S. are laparoscopic gastric bypass and laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy. Both are performed minimally invasively through small

incisions. Gastric bypass is considered the gold standard procedure to which all other procedures are compared for both weight loss and complication rates. This is because gastric bypass provides the most successful means of weight loss and “cures” the diseases associated with obesity far more effectively than any other bariatric procedure. There is an overwhelming amount of evidence that supports gastric bypass above any other procedure. The STAMPEDE (Surgical Therapy and Medications Potentially Eradicate Diabetes Efficiently) trial is perhaps the most followed and respected study comparing bariatric procedures with medical therapy. “The three-year data confirms that bariatric surgery maintains its superiority over medical therapy for the treatment of type 2 diabetes in severely obese patients,” said the study’s lead investigator from the Cleveland Clinic Bariatric and Metabolic Institute. “When compared to sleeve gastrectomy and medical therapy, gastric bypass patients achieved greater weight loss, were on fewer medications, had a higher success rate controlling diabetes, and had an improved quality of life.”

The Saint Francis Center for Surgical Weight Loss is a multidisciplinary surgical weight loss center, which means there are fellowship- trained surgeons, nurses, nurse practitioners, patient advocates, medical assistants, and bariatric-specific dieticians within the offices. The Center is fully accredited by the

Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program as a Comprehensive Center with Adolescent Qualifications. The two surgeons, Dr. Robert Wegner and Dr. Virginia Weaver, perform a variety of procedures, including laparoscopic gastric bypass, laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, and converting gastric bands to bypasses, among others. They work closely with patients in determining which procedure would be best for each person.

“I was recently asked by a colleague why I perform so many laparoscopic gastric bypasses,” said Dr. Wegner. “I simply answered, ‘Because it works.’ Laparoscopic gastric bypass is still the gold standard to which all other procedures are compared. That said, it’s also one of the most technically complex procedures and should only be done by a surgeon specifically trained to do it. There is a local perception that gastric bypass is ‘risky’ and ‘unsafe,’ which could not be further from the truth. I am not saying it is without risk – every surgery has some risk involved. What I am saying is that gastric bypass is extremely safe and effective. On multiple levels gastric bypass is the most powerful weight-loss operation available and should be part of a bariatric surgeon’s skill set.”

“Bariatric surgery is not done simply for weight loss or cosmetic reasons – it truly is potentially life-saving surgery to treat the disease of obesity,” says Dr. Weaver. “Obesity causes at least as many deaths as smoking. The diseases associated with obesity, such as diabetes and high cholesterol, can also be dangerous. The resultant improvement or eradication of these diseases after bariatric surgery are staggering – for example, diabetes is put into remission over 90% of the time after gastric bypass. Personal responsibility and lifestyle changes are essential to lose weight and maintain it; the problem is that those things alone usually do not work once someone is already obese. But bariatric surgery in conjunction with lifestyle modifications do work for losing weight and maintaining it for life.”

by Robert Wegner, M.D. and Virginia Weaver, M.D.

If you are interested in learning more about weight-loss surgery, please visit Memphis Weight Loss Surgery. There you can watch an online seminar discussing obesity and the surgical treatment options. You can also register for a live seminar if you prefer, done by Dr. Wegner or Dr. Weaver. Call (901) 765-1849 to sign up for a free seminar.

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