Obesity in America has reached epidemic proportions. It is estimated that
more than 66 percent of the population is overweight or obese. The majority
of these individuals have been battling weight issues or obesity for their
entire lives and, in many cases, are likely to have tried and failed multiple
times to take the weight off and keep it off by way of traditional diet
and exercise. Additionally, people who are affected by obesity are at
greater risk for other health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, coronary
heart disease, stroke, hypertension, some cancers, sleep apnea, asthma,
osteoarthritis, and joint degeneration, gastroesophageal reflux disease
(GERD), lower back pain and urinary incontinence. For these individuals,
bariatric surgery may be an option. Bariatric surgery is an operation
on the stomach and/or intestines that helps patients with extreme obesity
to lose weight. This is accomplished by either limiting the amount of
food a person can consume or a combination of limiting intake as well
as altering the way nutrients are absorbed by the body.
Since 2009, Frederick Health Hospital has been helping patients on their
journey to overcome obesity and to living better, healthier and longer
lives. A patient whose body mass index (BMI) is 35 or higher may be a
candidate for one of the three types of bariatric procedures performed
at Frederick Health.
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Types of Gastric Surgeries
Gastric bypass is the most commonly thought of procedure when bariatric
surgery is mentioned. The bypass restricts food intake by creating a small
pouch with a portion of the top of the stomach. It also decreases how
food is absorbed because the lower portion of the stomach – the
duodenum – that is involved with some of the absorption of calories
and nutrients is bypassed by connecting the small intestine directly to
the newly formed pouch.
A vertical sleeve gastrectomy is a procedure that works mainly by reducing
stomach volume – approximately 80 to 85 percent of the stomach is
removed, leaving a “sleeve” of the stomach, similar to the
shape of a banana. Nutrients and calories are absorbed from food normally,
but patients feel full sooner since the size of the stomach has been significantly reduced.
Gastric banding works mainly by decreasing food intake. A small band is
placed around the top of the stomach that can then be adjusted by inflating
it. This creates a small pouch out of the top of the stomach, limiting
the amount of food a patient can eat at one time. This band can then be
inflated or deflated to meet the needs of the patient.
Some people may think that bariatric surgery is the “easy way”
to lose weight. There is no easy way to lose weight and there is no guaranteed
method, including surgery, to produce and maintain weight loss. Whatever
method a patient may choose, the individual must be committed to changing
their pre-existing habits around diet and exercise and be willing to continue
this for the rest of their lives. If you are considering bariatric surgery,
FMH is here to assist you in reaching your goals.
Although most patients enjoy improved mobility, a better self-image and
heightened self esteem after weight loss surgery, these results should
not be the overriding motivation for having the procedure, says Dr. Stephen
McKenna, Medical Director of Bariatric Surgery at Frederick Health. "First
and foremost, our goal is to help patients live better, healthier and
longer. People who are living with obesity have gone through a lot,"
says Dr. McKenna. "They feel terrible physically, and they are often
very ashamed about how many times they have failed to take the weight
off. I want people to know that they are not alone, and that there are
options that we can consider and discuss."