Published On: Fri, Jun 28th, 2013

5 Things You Should Know About Medical Weight Loss

With more than one-third of Americans obese, dieting and weight loss in American culture has become the Holy Grail. As a result, myths surrounding weight loss diets and methods are often misleading and sometimes dangerous. That’s not to say that weight-loss methods are generally useless; it’s just that you need to know what questions to ask and where to go for effective solutions.

5 Things You Should Know About Medical Weight Loss

Nervous as all hell

1. Am I a Good Candidate for Medical Weight-loss Surgery?

To determine whether you’ll be a good candidate for medical weight-loss surgery, you need to know your body mass index and your general health status. A normal BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. Typically, a person with a BMI higher than 40 is a good candidate for medical weight-loss surgery. Typically, this is between 80 and 100 pounds overweight. If your BMI is lower but you have health problems related to weight, you could also be a viable candidate. If you have type-2 diabetes or high blood pressure due to obesity, medical weight-loss surgery is very effective. If you are curious about whether your health insurance will support your decision for weight-loss surgery, your insurance company can offer you plenty of advice.

2. What Type of Weight-loss Surgery Should I Choose?

There are several medical weight loss surgery types. The two major types include:

  • Restrictive surgeries:

Restrictive surgeries shrink the stomach, which then slows down digestion. A restricted stomach can hold 2 – 3 ounces of food while a normal stomach holds around 3 pints.

Success: After Weight Loss Surgery 2008 - Charlotte, NC

  • Malabsorptive or restrictive surgeries:

These surgeries are much more invasive than the restrictive stomach surgery. This surgery changes how your body treats food. It restricts the stomach size and removes part of your digestive tract. This makes it harder for you to absorb calories. There are more side effects with this surgery type, but the most dangerous, intestinal bypass, is no longer performed.

3. What Are the Possible Repercussions of Medical Weight-loss Surgery?

Any surgery comes with the possible risk of complications. The surgery comes with the basic possible repercussions such as risks associated with anesthesia, blood clots, and infection. The good news is that medical weight-loss surgeries are comparatively safe. Complications typically have to do with leaks from stakes or the erosion of the band, or complications related to malnutrition. Finally, if you were severely obese, you’ll have loose skin that could fold and develop infection or irritation. Make sure to work with your doctor on ways to deal with this situation.

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4. What Do I Need to Do After Surgery?

You may have to stay in the hospital for up to 5 days, so make sure that you get enough time off from work. Your stay could be shorter, but you don’t want to have any time restrictions in case there are complications. Your surgery won’t be a free ticket to eating junk food without repercussion for the rest of your life either. You will slowly transition to solid foods for four months after your surgery. Sometimes getting back to a completely solid food diet will take as long as a year. Once you’re back on track, you’ll want to make sure that you’re eating the most vitamin and mineral rich foods out there, as you need to make every calorie count. It’s also important to keep your fitness activity high, as the surgery works best when it’s in tandem with a solid workout routine.

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5. Who Should Perform My Weight-Loss Surgery?

Bariatric surgeons, gastroentrerologic surgeons, and general surgeons are able to do medical weight-loss surgery, but you should educate yourself on your doctor’s background. Your doctor should have a documented training in laparoscopy and specifically in medical weight-loss surgery. If you’re smart, you’ll make sure your doctor is a part of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. Members of ASMBS take part in ongoing education which keeps them abreast of the newest technology in the field, and it also provides its members with channels for collaboration. Once you find a member of ASMBS, make sure that your surgeon has performed at least 100 of the specific types of surgery that you need. Many studies show that complication likelihood goes down after a doctor has done 100-plus procedures. Finally, you’ll want to choose a provider who also offers a comprehensive treatment program which includes ongoing diet and exercise support therapy.

Whether you are unable to lose weight or you’re experiencing health issues due to obesity, you may consider medical weight-loss surgery as a possible solution. But look before you leap. You don’t want to make decisions without doing your research.

Author Amy Nielson is a blogger who writes articles for Briggs & Butler, a medical insurance provider that can offer policies for families. You can follow her on Twitter @NielsonAmy.

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