Straight talk from a bariatric surgeon on weight loss

As more people start paying attention to their health, many are turning to science and surgery to treat morbid obesity.

Obesity was recognized as a disease in 2013 by the American Medical Association. The AMA said, “Recognizing obesity as a disease will help change the way the medical community tackles this complex issue that affects approximately one in three Americans.”

Bariatric surgery is a permanent lifestyle game-changer. Patients must work with the surgeon and a primary care physician willing to provide long-term care; a consultation with a dietitian and a psychiatrist; and tests including a chest x-ray, an EKG and a complete blood panel, just to name a few.

This is necessary because bariatric surgery involves changes in the stomach and gastrointestinal physiology. Patients must be convinced all reasonable weight loss alternatives have been exhausted before selecting surgery.

“Most people have a lack of knowledge about bariatric surgery, how it works and don’t know how to obtain adequate information for the surgery,” said Dr. Daniel Bacal, medical director of bariatric surgery for Beaumont Hospital – Dearborn.

Bacal is one of several Beaumont bariatric surgeons to hold free seminars regularly to discuss bariatric surgery with members of the community. These comprehensive seminars provide attendees with information about the latest advances in weight loss surgery and evidence-based information about surgical outcomes.

Bacal said that he doesn’t hold anything back when discussing the surgery because it is important to understand all aspects of it.

“I give them the good, bad and ugly about bariatric surgery,” Bacal said. “They need to understand bariatric surgery is a tool to lose weight.”

But successful weight loss is still up to the patient, he said. Once patients have bariatric surgery, his or her diet will change drastically and permanently.

Being morbidly obese means facing medical problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, infertility, sleep apnea and reduced life expectancy.

To avoid those problems, it’s necessary to change your diet and the way you eat after surgery. Regular exercise becomes paramount. Supplemental nutrients will become part of your life because the way your body absorbs nutrition will have changed.

When should a person consider bariatric surgery? There are several answers.

“It’s a serious question,” Bacal said. “The answer is bariatric surgery should be considered when a person’s body mass index is 40 or more, or a BMI of 35 accompanied by medical problems, or when a severely obese person wants to get serious about making lifestyle changes.”

Although patients feel much better about their appearance after weight loss, the purpose of surgery is to become healthier. Weight loss surgery may alleviate or help the patient avoid weight-related diseases.

“Bariatric surgery is a great tool to lose weight for those who are willing to make the lifestyle changes,” Bacal said.

Beaumont offers lifestyle, medical and surgical weight loss solutions to not only help you lower your weight, but improve your overall health.

To learn more about the bariatric and weight loss classes and seminars at Beaumont, go to beaumont.org/weight.