Are you ready for weight loss surgery?
Augustus Lyons, MD, USMD, can help you decide.
August 10, 2021
Have you ever tried to lose weight? If so, you’re not alone. You're among millions of Americans who try to shed extra pounds, only to gain them again.
Are you obese, meaning you have too much body fat? Obesity is a disease, but help is available. Weight loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery, can change your life in positive ways. Science proves it.
In the early '90s, the National Institutes of Health studied all the ways people try to lose weight. They found that having weight loss surgery was the only way to keep weight off five years or longer.
Many primary care doctors send their patients to me. That's because their patients have diabetes, congestive heart failure, sleep apnea or other problems made worse by extra weight. But these same patients often find that these problems go away after surgery.
Surgery also reduces the chance of getting many types of cancer. This is important, because in the United States, obesity is the second-leading cause of cancers that can be prevented. Studies also show that obesity leads to 40% of all cancers diagnosed in this country.
In addition to the physical benefits, weight loss surgery can also help people to enjoy a fuller, richer life. After surgery, people move better, feel better and have more energy. This helps them to do new things and spend time with people they love.
The idea of having a healthier, more active life can be exciting. Some people want to have surgery as soon as possible. But at USMD, we take time to make sure you are ready for surgery and the changes it will bring.
Weight loss is a journey
I always tell people that having this surgery is a journey. Your life and health will improve, but you won’t wake up skinny. Getting used to a new way of eating is a life-long commitment. And in 25% of patients, weight loss surgery doesn’t work.
My goal is to do everything I can to improve your chance for success.
When I meet a patient for the first time, we spend an hour or more together. This is an important first step in developing a long-term relationship. It's also an important part of helping you prepare for a new life.
Getting ready to succeed
I keep meeting with patients every month. During that time, we talk about which type of surgery is best for them. We also work with other experts to make sure you are ready for everything your new life will bring.
One of those experts is a psychologist who studies human behavior. A psychologist can help make sure you are mentally and emotionally ready for changes to your body and life. Being in the right frame of mind can make a difference between success and failure.
Weight loss surgery is also a chance to have a reset. And that includes the way you eat. A nutrition expert will help you learn how to eat during the weeks leading up to surgery and after surgery.
We used to think surgery was the No. 1 thing that changed health patterns. But new data shows that eating healthy six weeks before surgery can improve success. I urge patients to eat a Mediterranean diet and to eat smaller portions during those six weeks.
A full medical exam
Of course, your safety and well-being are the most important things to think about before bariatric surgery. I do a full medical exam to make sure you’re healthy enough to have the operation.
After the exam and meeting with other experts, I keep meeting with patients before surgery. During these visits, I check in with them about how they’re feeling and what they’re doing.
Are they exercising? Are they eating healthy? When are they eating? What are they eating? We talk about ways to do and improve all of these things. Everything can help pave the way to the best possible result.
When the team and I feel a patient is ready, we plan for surgery.
There’s never been a better time
In the '70s or '80s, weight loss surgery required big cuts that often became infected. The surgery was risky and not done very often — maybe 30,000 to 40,000 times a year.
Since then, laparoscopic surgery has changed everything. We now make small pinhole-size cuts to insert a camera and instruments to operate. These types of changes have led more people to have weight loss surgery. Last year, more than 300,000 people had it.
After a full exam and many conversations, it's finally time to choose the right type of surgery. Together, we decide which type is best for you. You can select the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass or the vertical sleeve gastrectomy.
Roux-en-Y gastric bypass
With this surgery, the stomach is cut into two parts. The upper pouch becomes the working stomach. After surgery, it holds a few ounces of food. The larger lower part of the stomach never holds food again. But it still helps break down food to be used by the body.
Vertical sleeve gastrectomy
This operation removes about 65% of the stomach. It helps speed up weight loss because it reduces the amount of food you can eat. The operation is not reversible.
Surgery is just the beginning
Again, I remind patients that this is a journey. After surgery, the journey continues. You have to drink plenty of water and learn a new way of eating. You especially have to eat enough protein so you can build muscle while you lose fat.
Our team helps you every step of the way. I see my patients for five years after their operation. We become like family. In my heart, I really want them to succeed. It makes me so happy to know I can help change the direction of a person’s life.
Are you interested in weight loss surgery?
- NCBI. Impact of Bariatric Surgery on Cancer Risk Reduction. Accessed 2020.
The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs.