Today in the U.S., more than 78 million people are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control.[i] While research shows bariatric surgery is the most effective treatment for severe obesity, less than 1 percent of the 26 million surgically eligible patients have weight loss procedures each year.ii
The lack of information and uncertainty about available procedures leaves most patients who could benefit from surgery reluctant to take the next step. Patients want to understand if surgery will successfully help them lose weight and keep the weight off, and if the procedure will help with obesity-related diseases. Here are answers to the most common questions asked by eligible bariatric surgery patients.
1. Will bariatric surgery help someone like me lose weight?
Everybody is different, and weight loss is different for each person attempting to lose weight.
A new digital platform, Health Partner for Weight Loss Surgery, helps people thinking about bariatric surgery better understand their options and make an informed decision. The new website provides comprehensive information about available surgical procedures and common concerns, questions, and fears of people who are considering weight loss surgery. People can also hear from others like them who have gone through the weight loss surgery journey. For patients who are ready to take the next step, the website provides a surgeon locator, a tool to navigate insurance requirements and recipes designed for weight loss surgery patients.
2. Will the surgery help me keep the weight off long term?
Bariatric surgery was designed to help patients with obesity make a lasting change to their health. Research has shown bariatric surgery to be the most effective and long-lasting treatment for severe obesity and many related conditions, and results in significant weight loss.iii
To help patients achieve their goals and deal with the changes surgery and weight loss can bring, it is important they have tools and resources to support them throughout their entire journey. The Health Partner app was designed to support patients before and after surgery, and to help them set healthy weight loss goals, monitor their nutrition, diet and exercise, track their progress, and keep them motivated throughout their weight loss journey.
“A patient’s weight loss surgical journey doesn’t begin and end in the operating room, and providing patients with the proper tools and resources they need throughout their entire journey is essential to success,” said Dr. Elliot Fegelman, MD, Therapeutic Area Lead for Metabolics at Ethicon, a leader in bariatric surgery. “Health Partner for Weight Loss Surgery not only supports patients before, during and after their decision to undergo bariatric surgery, but also bridges the communication gap between the patient and their healthcare team.”
3. Will weight loss surgery help with other obesity-related diseases for people like me?
Bariatric surgery has helped improve the lives of millions of patients with obesity and related diseases. While obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., it can contribute to more than 40 other diseases, including high cholesterol, stroke, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer and arthritis.iv
Recent data indicates there are clear benefits to bariatric surgery, specifically to improve many different obesity-related diseases and conditions such as type 2 diabetes and high-blood pressure. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that some people with uncontrolled type 2 diabetes who had bariatric surgery not only lost weight, but may also have reduced need for medication to treat their type 2 diabetes almost immediately following surgery.v
For surgically-eligible patients with joint disease, weight loss surgery may provide an opportunity for lessening knee or hip pain, or lowering BMI to enable more patients to qualify for joint replacement surgery.vi
Additionally, weight loss surgery may improve:
* Sleep apnea;
* High blood pressure; and
* High cholesterol.
It is important for anyone considering this life-changing surgery to know that there are resources available. Patients can check out the Health Partner for Weight Loss Surgery website at www.thehealthpartner.com/WLS and smartphone app (search “health partner for weight loss surgery” in the app store). Having this information can help in taking the next step to a conversation with your doctor about the best treatment option for you.
There are risks with any surgery, such as adverse reactions to medications, problems with anesthesia, problems breathing, bleeding, blood clots, inadvertent injury to nearby organs and blood vessels, even death. Bariatric surgery has its own risks, including failure to lose weight, nutritional or vitamin deficiencies, and weight regain. Patients should consult their physicians to determine if this procedure is appropriate for their condition.
i http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html. Accessed May 11, 2016.
ii Ethicon, Inc. (2016). Bariatric Surgically Open Patient Profiling Initiative. Beth Seltzer. Sanjit K. Bhogal OBES SURG (2015) 25:888–899 DOI 10.1007/s11695-015-1595-9, Inequity to the Utilization of Bariatric Surgery: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, Table 2 6
iii Weiner, R. A., et al. (2010). Indications and principles of metabolic surgery. U.S. National Library of Medicine. 81(4) pp.379-394. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20361370
iv Kaplan L. J Gastrointest Surg. 2003;7(4):proceeding;443_451.
v (2017) Bariatric Surgery or Intensive Medical Therapy for Diabetes after 5 Years. New England Journal of Medicine 376:20, 1995-1997
vi Chand B. et al. Surg Obes Rel Dis. 2011; 7(6): 672-682