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Published on June 02, 2014

When To Consider Bariatric Surgery

If you’re wondering if bariatric surgery is right for you, there’s a lot to take into consideration before making this life-changing commitment.

For one, it’s vital that patients understand all of the different types of surgery before choosing the one that’s right for them. “Not all surgeries will help you achieve your weight loss goals,” said Dr. Fernando Bonanni, Director of the Institute for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery at Abington Memorial Hospital. “Even if you know someone who had a successful weight loss surgery, you won’t necessarily have the same results. There are a number of different factors that could make one type of surgery more effective for one person and not another.”

So what types of surgeries are there?

While there are a few different types of bariatric surgeries, most fall into two categories: restrictive and malabsorptive. During a restrictive procedure, a portion of the stomach is removed or closed to make it smaller, limiting the amount of food it can hold. This also causes patients to feel fuller sooner. Malabsorptive surgery is when the length of the small intestine is shortened to limit the amount of food that’s completely digested or absorbed. In both cases, the goal is to limit the amount of food that is absorbed by the body.

However, surgery isn’t right for everyone.

“A patient is considered a candidate for bariatric surgery if he or she meets the National Institute of Health’s criteria for morbid obesity,” said Dr. Bonanni. This means a patient must have either a BMI over 40, or a BMI of 35 along with weight-related health conditions, such as sleep apnea, diabetes, coronary artery disease, and high blood pressure. 

But there’s a lot more to the process than that. According to Dr. Bonanni, patients must be cleared by a psychologist to make sure they’re mentally healthy and that they have a solid support system at home. 

“They also need to be educated about obesity and make an attempt to understand the lifestyle and diet that’s required to be successful for losing weight,” said Dr. Bonanni. Weight loss surgery isn’t just a single solution, he added.

Patients must understand the severity of obesity, get physically active, eat better, and manage any obesity-related health conditions.

“More than anything, it’s essential that people understand it’s not only about the surgery,” said Dr. Bonanni. “It’s about them and their commitment to change their lives forever.”

If you think you might be a candidate for bariatric surgery, be sure to talk to your doctor and click here for more information.


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