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Bariatric Surgery: A life-changing approach to weight loss

1/16/2014, 9 a.m.

According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health, 60 percent of American women are overweight, and in that group more than one-third are considered obese. Obesity negatively impacts the health of women in many ways. Being overweight or obese increases the relative risk of diabetes and coronary artery disease in women. Women who are obese have an added higher risk of lower back pain and knee osteoarthritis. Both contraception and fertility are also negatively affected by obesity.

What is bariatric surgery?

Bariatric surgery, also known as weight-loss surgery, is an option for women who are severely or morbidly obese and whose health, and possibly fertility, is at risk because of their weight. Bariatric surgery refers to various surgical procedures to treat obesity, by making changes to the gastrointestinal tract to reduce the amount of food that can be eaten.

Can bariatric surgery reverse disease?

A recent study published by the New England Journal of Medicine suggested that weight-loss surgery is dramatically more effective in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes than the conventional treatments of change of diet and medication. Patients in the study suffered from severe Type 2 diabetes and most went into remission after undergoing bariatric surgery.

Can bariatric surgery increase fertility?

Although scientific evidence on fertility after bariatric surgery is limited, data suggests that fertility can improve with significant weight loss. According to the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, women who were obese increased their chances of getting pregnant and reduced their risk of pregnancy complications by having bariatric surgery.

How do I find out if I am a candidate for bariatric surgery?

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends that determining your Body Mass Index (BMI) as the best way to assess if you are overweight or obese. BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight, and it applies to both men and women.

Not everyone is a candidate for bariatric surgery. To be a successful surgical candidate, you must:

• Have a BMI greater than or equal to 35, with one or more obesity-related condition such as high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, high cholesterol, sleep apnea or a family history of early coronary heart disease.

• Have a BMI greater than 40 regardless of other existing medical conditions.

• Be between the ages of 18 and 70, though some exceptions apply.

• Have been unsuccessful with non-surgical weight-loss attempts, including supervised dietary, behavioral and medical therapy.

• Have realistic expectations and motivation about the surgery and understand the risks.

• Make a lifelong commitment to change your lifestyle to be healthier and engage in long-term follow-up

How can I learn more about whether bariatric surgery is the right option for me?

If you are considering this life-changing step, attend an information session at Jackson North Medical Center on the first Thursday of each month or at Jackson South Community Hospital on the second Thursday of each month. The free sessions are held at 6:30 p.m.

Reservations for the information sessions are required. To reserve your space, or for more information, call 305-585-TRIM (8746) or visit www.JacksonCanHelp.org.

Jackson North is located at 160 N.W. 170th Street, North Miami Beach, FL, 33169.

Jackson South is located at 9333 S. W. 152nd Street, Miami, FL, 33157.