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HOLIDAY EATING WITH GASTRIC BALLOONS

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Sing with me now…” It’s the most wonderful time of the year” … Well, it can certainly can be, but it can also be stressful especially if you’ve just had your gastric balloons placed and are worrying about how you’re going to face all those holiday parties and piles of holiday food.  I’m sure you’re learning to adjust to eating with your balloons but navigating the season and all the eating that comes with it takes some extra planning and commitment. Not only do you want to lose weight and continue to make healthy choices, you’ll also need to remember that overeating with gastric balloons can make you feel uncomfortable.  But you CAN do it and we’re here to help. Below are a few tips to help make this season enjoyable for all, including you.

  • Go Full. Have a health snack before the party. Don’t go hungry, cookies are so much harder to resist when you’re hungry. Set yourself up for success.
  • Go SMALL. Use a small plate, take smaller portions. You can still enjoy your favorite foods but in smaller bites. This will make you feel less deprived and more comfortable because too much food will not only derail your weight loss goals but make you feel discomfort from being too full.
  • Go S-L-O-W. Graze, nibble, take a bite or two but make an extra effort to talk to your friends and family. Make your focus about the people who are around you not the food.
  • Go Around the Room. Don’t hover around the kitchen, buffet or table of goodies. Work the room, say “Hi” to Aunt Sally and put your back to the food if you need to.
  • Go for A Walk. Catch up with an old friend or family member and invite them to go for a walk or go run an errand for the host. Get moving and stay active not only to stay away from the food but to keep up with your weight loss.
  • Go Home. When it gets tough, have a plan of escape. Go to the gathering, make an appearance, spend time with friends and family, be social, have fun but go home if you feel the pressure and temptation start to build.  Have an excuse ready or just say it’s time for you to go. You’ve invested a lot in your health. Staying too long is not worth the risk.

If you would like to learn more about the Gastric Balloon or to see if you qualify for the Gastric Balloon we have many tools to help.

 

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Is Stress Eating Affecting Your Weight Loss?

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Let’s admit it, life is stressful.  We have several options for dealing with stress and for many, eating is one of them.  Turning to food when stressed and looking for comfort is not surprising or unusual.  It’s actually biological.  When stressed, our bodies release the hormones commonly known as adrenaline and cortisol.  These hormones work to prepare our bodies and minds for whatever challenges we are (or think we are) being faced with.  Adrenaline, also known as epinephrine, prepares our body for the “fight or flight” response and may temporarily suppress appetite in order to prepare for “battle”.  However, if the body remains under a steady stream of attack from stress, cortisol is released in order keep the body alert and motivated.  Alert and motivated, however, often increases appetite and motivates one to eat more frequently and in larger amounts.

And get this, stress also has a favorite food.  I’m sure you guessed it’s not salad.  Unfortunately, foods high in fat and sugar are the main cravings of stress. They seem to actually “comfort” the brain through a feedback mechanism that counteracts the effects of stress.  Parts of the brain that produce and stimulate stress and related emotions are lessened when fatty or sugary foods are ingested.  Calorie dense and palatable food seem to play a role in a reward system that scientists are still trying to fully understand.  Studies (and personal experience) show that tasty food can stimulate a euphoric (heavenly) sensation similar to what opioid based pain medications do.  They believe that this is why stress eating can not only be comforting but also addicting.1  Sadly, in this case what comforts us could eventually hurts us.

So now that we know why we stress eat and how stress can contribute to weight gain, the big question is HOW CAN WE PREVENT STRESS EATING to begin with??  Knowing the dangers of stress eating is the first step.  If you don’t know your weaknesses you won’t know how to protect yourself.  The following tips are some techniques that can foster healthy coping tactics when stress leads you to the refrigerator.

Tips to Avoid Stress Eating:

  1. Eliminate Temptations – If those fatty or sugary foods are not accessible, you can’t eat them.  No need making weight loss harder than it already is.  If you’ve made a decision to lose weight, set yourself up for success.  Remove the calorie dense junk food and sugary drinks from your home and workplace, if possible.  Fill it up with healthier choices, fruits, veggies, nuts, etc… When you’re hungry, you’re going to eat what’s in front of you.  If you find that after a while, eating carrots does not satisfy you, you’ll soon drop eating as a coping mechanism for stress. If not, then at least you’re eating carrots and not cookies.
  2. Exercise – Exercising releases endorphins, those “feel good” hormones.  These endorphins also serve to lower cortisol levels and remember, cortisol can contribute to sustained levels of increased appetite and thus overeating.  The exercise doesn’t have to be tortuous running (unless, of course, you like running) but for those a little less motivated at first, just go for a walk, do some jumping jacks or an exercise DVD in your living room.  Just get moving!  It works, it really does.
  3. Keep Busy – Find a hobby, plan your day, especially on the weekends or when you’re not working or otherwise occupied.  Temptations sneak in when you’re not prepared and vulnerable.  Boredom is a true friend of mindless and stress eating.  Again, set yourself up for success, plan ahead and plan for possible temptations along the way.  Hobbies and other non-eating activities that keep you occupied are a great way to release stress and avoid stress eating.
  4. Meditation – Taking deep breaths from the diaphragm while quieting the mind has not only be shown to reduce stress but it in turn reduces blood pressure, improve digestion, reduce cortisol levels, enhance mood and sharpen mental capabilities.  When the urge to eat in order to cope with stress surfaces, meditate instead.  Try this: Inhale while counting to five, then exhale as you count to five, then repeat.  Aim for at least 5 minutes of meditation at a time.
  5. Engage Your Support System – If you have one, use it.  Be sure they are aware of your goals and will help you stick with them. Just being a loved one doesn’t count.  Loved ones may love you but may not always be a great support system if they don’t truly understand what you need when you’re stressed and wanting to avoid stress eating.  For those who are serious about losing weight or have undergone a weight loss procedure like balloon weight loss, choosing a friend or family to act like a “sponsor” does in AA for alcoholics, is recommended.  Having an individual who agrees to be the go to person when temptation strikes, can be invaluable.
  6. Stop and Think – Most stress eating happens in a split second.  You feel stressed, your body knows food makes it feel good, your hand reaches for food and before you know it, it’s in your mouth…  If you could just take a minute to stop, think about whether or not this food is worth it, weigh the pros and cons and determine if its in accordance to your goals, 9 times out of 10, you will probably avoid stress eating and find another way to cope.

If you’ve made the decision to lose weight, whether through a weight loss procedure like gastric balloon weight loss or through diet and exercise alone, you need to recognize the dangers of stress eating.  As we outlined above, there is a biological reason why eating comforts us but it can get out control and even become an addiction so the first thing is to be aware.  Next, you need to plan and set yourself up for success.  You can do this.

If you would like to learn more about the Gastric Balloon or to see if you qualify for the Gastric Balloon we have many tools to help. If you are not finding a doctor in your area or not seeing the answer to your question please feel free to reach out to us. Our goal is to inform everyone about all of their weight loss options and put you in contact with a doctor in your area.

References:

  1. Stress, eating and the reward system; Adam TC, Epel ES.; Physiol Behav. 2007;91(4):449-58. Epub 2007 Apr 14.

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What Is BMI & How Is It Connected To My Weight & Health?

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You’ve probably heard of the Body Mass Index (BMI), a measurement that medical professionals, insurance companies and researchers have used to categorize obesity.  For the past several decades, the BMI has been used as an easy way to monitor trends in obesity for researchers, but when the medical community started using it widely for individuals, they noticed that it doesn’t quite provide the whole picture of health.

While it does provide valuable information regarding societal trends, especially in regards to keeping track of and preventing childhood obesity, the BMI has several limitations when it comes to measuring an individual’s health in terms of weight. One of the biggest limitations of the BMI is that is doesn’t distinguish between fat and muscle, which can be an issue for those who are athletic. An average professional football player, for instance, might have a BMI of 31.35, which is considered obese according to BMI measurements.  Yet he is more fit and has less body fat than his normal BMI peers. Athletes aren’t alone, many individuals categorized as overweight or obese according to the BMI may simply have a broad frame or are muscular yet have very little body fat.

Another limitation to the BMI is race and age. For example, those of African descent genetically tend towards having more muscle than fat compared to Caucasians. Another paradox is that Asians are more prone to heart disease despite their tendency to have lower BMIs. The BMI also fails to take into account growth spurts that children go through. When boys go through puberty they add muscle rapidly yet girls will add fat during puberty, the BMI will miss that nuance as well.

So what can we do? How do we judge health? Do we forget about weight measurement altogether and just eat healthy and work out? Just focus on decreasing blood pressure, blood sugar and unhealthy fats? Well, yes but…

Unfortunately, studies show that those who are “Fit but Fat” can still have a high risk of heart disease just because they are overweight or obese. A new study published in the European Heart Journal highlights one of the dominating controversies in the health world: Can you really be “fat but fit?”1. Researchers provide evidence that carrying too much extra weight still hurts your heart, even if your other risk factors, like blood pressure, blood sugar and triglycerides are kept pretty low with diet and exercise.

Over 520,000 people were follow for 12 years and then evaluated to see who developed heart disease. Result showed that overweight and obese people who did not have common risk factors for heart disease like high blood pressure, high triglycerides, low “good” cholesterol, high blood sugar, were still 26% more likely having heart disease than their non-obese/overweight counterparts. Meaning, weight still increases one’s risk of developing heart disease despite having low risk factors. Argh!

So how do we measure “health” in terms of weight if the BMI doesn’t provide a perfect picture and just keeping risk factors low doesn’t necessarily solve the problem either? Being within the normal weight range for your height IN ADDITION to having low blood pressure, low blood sugar and plenty of “good cholesterol” is obviously the key but are there better ways to measure obesity that would give a more accurate representation of one’s health?

One solution may be measuring waist circumference. It’s different for men and women, but studies show that for those who carry more fat around the waist compared to the rest of their body, the risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes increases dramatically. For women the goal is to have a waist circumference less than 35 inches and for men it should be less than 40 inches. To accurately measure your waist, stand and place a tape measure around your middle, just above your hipbones not at your bellybutton (if your belly button falls there fine, but the measurement should be right above your hip bones. Don’t cheat and suck it, measure your waist just after you breathe out but do stand up straight.

As seen in the European Heart Journal study and several others, the threat for people who tend to be fit, but have big bellies is real. This belly fat can be a greater risk factor for heart disease than any other kind. A study in The Journal Frontiers in Public Health found that using BMI as the lone measure missed 50% of cases of people who had what was determined to be dangerous fat that could hurt their health2. 50%!! Co-author of that study, Paul Laursen prefers the term “overfat” rather “overweight,” because, fat not overall weight, is what negatively affects one’s health.  “We shouldn’t be as worried about the weight. What we should really be worried about is fat…where your fat is concentrated,” according to Laursen. The BMI fails to identify the degree of one’s fat and its concentration on the body.

So again, what do we do now? Should BMI be totally thrown out? Probably not, but time will tell. In the meantime, here’s what you can do:

  1. Keep risks low: Focus on lower blood pressure, low blood sugar and increasing your “good” cholesterol by eating healthy and exercising – all proven methods to keeping heart risk low.
  2. Decrease your weight circumference: Are your risk factors low but you still have fat around the middle? Don’t fool yourself into thinking it’s harmless and that only the blood tests matter. Consider gastric balloon weight loss or other weight loss procedures to help shrink that middle if diet and exercise alone are doing it.

Read more about the BMI and in this article recently published on CNN:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/16/health/bmi-measure-fat-questions/index.html

If you would like to Learn more about the Gastric Balloon or See if you qualify for the Gastric Balloon.

References:

  1. Lassale C, Tzoulaki I, Moons KGM, et al. Separate and combined associations of obesity and metabolic health with coronary heart disease: a pan-European case-cohort analysis. European Heart Journal. Published online August 14 2017
  2. Maffetone PB, Rivera-Dominguez I, Laursen PB. Overfat and underfat: new terms and definitions long overdue. Front Public Health. 2016;4:279. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

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4 Ways To Care For Your Self To Ensure Weight Loss Success

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Whether you’re just starting on your journey to a healthier you, have already taken the steps towards a procedure like balloon weight loss or have already undergone bariatric surgery, you have probably realized that taking care of yourself is key to your health and success. However, if you haven’t realized it yet, now is the time…

Maybe you spend all of your time caring for and looking after others, leaving scraps of time for yourself, if any at all. Have you thought about how that may have contributed to (or is contributing to) your weight difficulties and perhaps suboptimal health? Have you considered how by taking better care of yourself, you’ll be better adept at caring for others plus provide a healthier example to those around you? By caring for yourself in the sense of taking the steps towards weight loss, you’ll not only be thinner but healthier, stronger, more energetic and likely happier. Balloon weight loss and other procedures can help in achieving a healthier weight, however, if you don’t continue to the process of self care, it’s easy to revert back to old habits of neglecting your health and likely your weight.4 Ways To Care For Your Self To Ensure Weight Loss Success

 

A lot of focus is placed on the idea of self-care these days, particularly as it relates to those who spend their time caring for others such as mothers, fathers, and other caregivers. I believe it is a healthy and useful awareness that can lead to an improved quality of life and development of inner peace and happiness. In this chaotic society where unimportant things somehow get prioritized as urgent too often, we could all use a little more peace and self-care, don’t you think? Instead of just surviving, we need to be thriving!

Just think about it… how can you help others when you, yourself are running on fumes?  Everyone benefits if we take care of ourselves because it frees up a greater reservoir of emotional and physical resources for ourselves AND others.

Here’s how to set yourself up for success:

 

  1. Have a Little Compassion – We all have regrets but give yourself a break. Mistakes are meant to be learning experiences. You can allow those regrettable experiences, big or small indefinitely plague you with guilt keep you down OR you can let it fuel your determination to make better decisions in the future. If you keep beating yourself up about things you get no-where. Why let those poor decision define you? Shrug it off, give yourself a little love and get back on the horse for bigger and better things. By having a generous spirit towards yourself, you can calmly and honestly assess how contributing factors, such as fatigue, stress, anger, etc… may be influencing things. Then you can more adequately recognize what may help you make better decisions in the future. You can turn that regretted decision into empowerment. Multiple things in life benefit from this rule but weight loss especially. Your journey to weight loss success will be peppered with temptation, you’ll win some and you’ll lose some but success is only forfeited if you don’t get back on track. So if you do find yourself regretting that little (or big) indulgence, forgive yourself, get over it and get re-focused on your goals.
  2. Be Honest – Admitting that many aspects in life are difficult can help you face it head on and avoid the pitfalls of disillusionment and depression. Weight loss is not easy. Life is not easy and you will not always have the support or energy to fly through obstacles like you’d like to. So being honest with yourself can help you prepare for hard times and validate the pain and frustration you may be experiencing. Like I mentioned above, have compassion on yourself and be your best support when you can’t seem to find it from others.
  3. Be Your Best Friend – Support from others is awesome but not always there. You, however, are. Be your best support system, commit to being your own cheerleader and confidant. If you go through balloon weight loss or any other program to lose weight or take care of yourself in any other way, you need you. So often we think being our worst critic helps us try harder… WRONG! We need to be our best friend and stop fretting when others aren’t always there to support us because let’s face it, no matter how awesome your friends and loved ones are, they can’t be there for you ALL the time, not the way you can.
  4. Count Your Blessings – I know you’ve heard it before and it may seem remedial but it’s really true and really paramount to getting through obstacles in life, including the ones you’ll encounter when going through your weight loss journey. Life is hard, it will have struggles, heartaches, disappointment, inconsistencies and be down right not fair BUT there are beautiful aspects of life and those who learn to focus on those things will always find ways to keep going and succeed. Humor yourself and just try it on those crappy, “things can’t get any worse days”…over and over count even the tiniest of benefits (even if it’s just the air you are breathing), give yourself a little love and keep going…

 

Loving and caring for yourself is not selfish, it actually helps you love others more and it has been proven time and time again to increase energy, provide inner peace, reduce stress hormones, increase life expectancy and add a little pep in your step. Success in anything including weight loss will be multiplied if you invest in caring for yourself.

If you would like to learn more about the Gastric Balloon or to see if you qualify for the Gastric Balloon we have many tools to help.

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Exercise Tips After Gastric Balloon Weight Loss Surgery

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Undergoing balloon weight loss surgery is just the start of the journey. The gastric balloon will serve as a valuable tool to help you learn healthier eating habits such as eating smaller, healthier meals. Once the weight starts falling off, exercising will help continue and maintain your weight loss. 

Although the recovery period from balloon weight loss surgery is not nearly as involved as other bariatric surgeries, you will need a few days to get used to the balloon in your stomach and so exercising right away may not be recommended.  Be sure to ask your bariatric surgeon when you can start to exercise.

Once you are able, get excited!!  You are on the way to the new you! Here are some tips that can help keep you motivated and safe:

  1. Ease Into It
  • Give yourself some time to ease into a regular fitness routine. No one runs 26 miles on day one when preparing to run a marathon. Spend some time thinking of how you’re going to work up to where you want to be. Maybe that means walking for 20 minutes for a few days then up to 30 minutes for a few days then upwards, etc… You can even add brief little intervals of speed walking or jogging. Do what you’re comfortable with at first but make sure you get to the point where you are constantly challenging yourself.
  1. Set Goals and Stick to Them
  • You gotta do this part. Be realistic but optimistic and confident. You can do this. Then stick to it. Once you set your goals, don’t think about whether or not you feel like exercising that day, just do it like it’s an appointment on your calendar. You’ll be glad you did.
  1. Add Variety
  • Keep it interesting but have a rotation schedule. Doing the same thing day after day, gets boring quickly and it’s easy to lose motivation. For example, alternate cardio with weights and add a day or two of yoga to keep you balanced (in more ways that one). Variety also keeps challenging the body so you’re less likely to avoid hitting a plateau in your weight loss journey.
  1. Crank Up the Tunes
  • Feeling blah? Tired? Crank up the tunes! It’s amazing how music can change our emotions and energy. Pick out some dance music or chose the Dance Cardio station on Pandora, make your own playlist or find some already made one’s online. Turn it up and move that body! Here is a link with some popular workout songs: www.popsugar.com/fitness/Top-100-Workout-Songs-1851867
  1. Get Your Style On
  • Don’t go out and buy a ton of new workout clothes since you’re body is going to continue to change but get yourself motivated with some new tennies or other gear. A lot of people find a fitness tracker, such as a Fitbit helpful in tracking not only your physical activity, heart rate, and calories burned but it can also be linked with apps like myfitnesspal which subtracts calories burned from calories eaten. There are so many cool gadgets out there for fitness and I’m sure more are on the horizon. Here are a few to check out: www.menshealth.com/fitness/best-high-tech-fitness-gear/slide/3
  1. Pump it Up
  • Strength training is investing in those nonstop calorie burning machines known as muscles. Just invest 30-60 minutes of focused strength training such as body weight exercises and lifting weights and those muscles will continue to burn calories while you rest. Saweet!!  Do some research and start small but don’t be afraid to work up to more weights and different exercises so that you are consistently challenging yourself.  Meet with a trainer or find a friend who can show you a few form tips in order to prevent injury.
  1. Have FUN!!
  • Last but definitely not least, have fun!! Don’t do an exercise you abhore.  There are plenty of ways to exercise, you don’t need to do what others do.  Find an exercise that you enjoy and make it work for you.  We’ve found that some of the best exercise programs for balloon weight loss patients include a combination of strength training, endurance (ex. walking, biking, swimming), and flexibility (ex. stretching and yoga).

If you would like to learn more about the Gastric Balloon or to see if you qualify for the Gastric Balloon we have many tools to help. If you are not finding a doctor in your area or not seeing the answer to your question please feel free to reach out to us. Our goal is to inform everyone about all of their weight loss options and put you in contact with a doctor in your area.

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The Cost Of NOT Doing Balloon Weight Loss

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WOW!! This might just shock you!

In our previous blog we talked about the cost of balloon weight loss procedures along with possible pre and post procedure expenses. However, people often forget to consider the costs of NOT losing weight with a procedure like balloon weight loss or other modalities.  Most people don’t realize how very costly obesity can be.  The statistics aren’t hard to find and a research report produced by the Department of Health and Health Safety at George Washington University, in Washington D.C., calculated just how costly it is to individuals who are obese and overweight in the United States1.

Consider this…

The Cost Of NOT Doing Balloon Weight Loss

Compared to a healthy weight individual….

  • An overweight man pays… $432 more per year
  • An overweight woman pay… $524 more per year
  • An obese man pays… $2646 more per year
  • An obese woman pays… $4879 more per year… in direct medical costs.

Why is this?

  1. Medical Visits: Visits to the doctor will be more frequent if you have diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, fatty liver, skin conditions or heartburn, all of which are more common in those who are overweight and obese.
  • Cost of primary care costs for the obese are 39% higher than their healthy-weight counterparts2
  • For those who are overweight it is 36%2
  1. Prescription costs: Type II Diabetes requires daily medications, sometimes insulin which requires syringes and needles, sharps containers and blood sugar monitors. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and acid reflux often require medications on a daily basis as well.
  • Those who are obese with a BMI ≥ 30 have 105% higher prescription costs2 Whoa! 105%!!
  • Those who are overweight (BMI 25–29) have 37% higher prescription costs than the healthy-weight group2
  1. Medical Testing: Routine labs for diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver are often required every few months.
  2. Health Insurance: Insurance premiums are typically higher for obese individuals because obese men and women are more likely to have pre-existing chronic medical conditions and the increased risk for medical problems and death.

On the job front, being overweight or obese can hurt the paycheck as well…

  • Obese employees earn approximately $3.41 less per hour than healthier weight employees, difference is greatest between obese women and healthy weight women, about 11%.
  • Obesity related absenteeism is 56% greater than for non-obese employees leading to loss of income if the sick days exceeds allowed time off, or if paid hourly and may possibly led to even loss of employment.
  • Obese individual are less likely to ask for raises or be promoted due to less self-confidence.

Other Costs:

  • Larger clothes especially if they need to be custom made are more expense
  • Gas expenditures are more expensive for those who weigh more
  • Life insurance premiums are higher because the higher the BMI goes, the higher the risk of death:
    • BMI 30-34.9 = 44% greater risk of death
    • BMI 35-39.9 = 88% greater risk of death
    • BMI 40-49.9 = 250% greater risk of death!!!!!!

Do you know your BMI? Use our BMI calculator to see if you are at risk.

Speaking of life and death, you can’t put a price tag on your life.  Considering both the cost of life and money, you can’t afford to stay overweight or obese.  Losing weight, whether through balloon weight loss or other, is an investment in yourself.  And, YOU ARE WORTH EVERY PENNY!

Find out if you qualify for the Gastric Balloon Weight Loss Procedure, Or find a qualified doctor in your area!

References:

  1. Dor, A., Ferguson, C., Langwith, C., & Tan, E. (2010). A heavy burden: The individual costs of being overweight and obese in the United States. Washington, D.C.: Department of Health Policy, School of Public Health and Health Services, The George Washington University.
  2. Hammond, Ross A., and Ruth Levine. 2010. “The Economic Impact of Obesity in the United States,” Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy 3: 285–295.

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The Cost Of A Balloon Weight Loss Procedure

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It Might Just Be Lower Than You Guessed!

Once someone starts to consider balloon weight loss, one of the first questions that come to mind is “How much does it cost?  The first balloon weight loss procedure was just approved by the FDA in 2015 therefore, insurances which are slow to cover newer medical interventions including most other weight loss procedures, have yet to provide coverage for balloon weight loss procedures.  Although there are rare exceptions, most individuals who plan on undergoing a balloon weight loss procedure will end up paying out of pocket (i.e. paying for the procedure themselves without aid from insurance).  The price of the procedure depends greatly on what region the procedure is performed in.  The higher the demand and more experienced the surgeon, the higher the costs.  Costs can range from $3,000 to $7,000 making it one the more affordable weight loss procedures.

Planning for a medical expense like balloon weight loss requires knowing all that’s involved including pre-procedure visits, facility fees and more. Here we’ll break down some of what can be expected for most balloon weight loss procedures.

Pre-Procedure Costs

Before having the actual procedure, an office visit with a bariatric specialist will be required. Even before that visit, a visit with a primary care may be necessary if referrals are required to see a specialist.  Some lab tests may also be required to make sure there aren’t any medical conditions that would prevent an individual from qualifying for the balloon weight loss procedure.

So to recap, possible pre-procedure costs include:

  • Primary care visit copay for referral to bariatric specialist
  • Specialist visit copay
  • Pre-procedure labs, EKG, etc…
  • Dietician/nutritionist visit
  • Cardiology visit if cardiac clearance is needed due to existing heart conditions/concerns

The Procedure

Balloon weight loss procedures are typically a 30-40 minute outpatient procedure meaning they do not require a hospital stay and they are often performed in outpatient/physician owned facilities or the outpatient section of the hospital.  Facility fees are involved with both locations, however, the non-hospital facility is usually less expensive.  Both facilities will be equipped with skilled nursing staff and the equipment necessary to perform the procedure.  Most procedures are done under conscious sedation, which do not require the assistance of an anesthesiologist, however, certain individuals and circumstances require stronger sedation and monitoring of an anesthesiologist, this is an additional fee.  Non-typical, but possible additional fees may also be added if tissue samples are removed for evaluation of tissue that looks abnormal or if additional imaging is necessary to facilitate the procedure.

So some expected and possibly additional fees for the day of the procedure include:

  • Cost of the procedure
  • Bariatric surgeon fee
  • Surgical assistant fee
  • Anesthesiologist fee (if additional sedation needed)
  • Facility fee
  • Pathologist fee (if tissue sample needs evaluation).

Post-Procedure Costs

After the procedure there will be follow up office visits, vitamin supplements, new foods and other expenses that people often forget to calculate into their budget.  Eating healthier, unfortunately, can be more costly and may include protein or supplement drinks for the first few weeks after balloon weight loss surgery.  And don’t forget those gym memberships or new exercise clothes and/or equipment!  Getting and staying in shape will be a priority to maintain the positive results from the balloon weight procedure.

Possible post-procedure costs:

  • Follow up visits with surgeon or surgical team (often included in procedure costs but worth budgeting for just in case).
  • Visits with dietician (same as above, may be included in total price of the balloon weight loss procedure).
  • Vitamin supplements (intake will be limited for an extended period of time, therefore, supplements are likely to be recommended).
  • Healthier foods, shakes, drinks etc…
  • Gym membership, exercise equipment, etc…
  • New clothes for the new physique!

Also, many bariatric surgeons offer payment plans or  financing through a third party so don’t be afraid to ask.

And remember, even if insurance may not cover the cost of balloon weight loss procedures, the investment made into your health and well-being will not only save you money in the long run by reducing healthcare costs and other costly consequences of obesity but being at a healthier weight will pay off in ways money can’t buy…energy, mobility, confidence, intimacy and so much more!

Find out if you qualify for the Gastric Balloon Weight Loss Procedure!

 

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Top 10 Health Conditions Improved By Gastric Balloon Weight Loss

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Obesity is associated with numerous medical conditions, including leading causes of death such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.  But can these conditions be reversed? Can weight loss surgeries such as gastric balloon weight loss procedures help individuals regain their health and their life? The answer is a resounding “Yes, absolutely!”

Weight loss surgeries, including gastric balloon weight loss systems can improve and even eliminate major obesity-related conditions. Here are the top ten medical conditions treatable by weight loss:

  1. High Blood Pressure

Elevated blood pressure also known as hypertension, is heavily influenced by weight. Hypertension develops when the pressure that blood applies to the inner walls of the arteries are sustained at high levels over times. When they reach levels known to cause damage to the vessels this can lead to inflammation and unstable plaques that can break off and cause heart attacks and strokes.  Obese individuals are more likely to develop hypertension because their excess fatty tissue increases their vascular resistance (the vessels can’t expand easily because of the excess tissue, they then become more rigid, causing more pressure and in turn damage the inside of the artery). This also increases the work the heart has to do to pump blood throughout the body.

Although, other causes of high blood pressure exist, obesity is a huge contributor. However, hypertension does not have to be a life sentence.  While medication is sometimes needed, diet and exercise are the foundation of treating hypertension.  A significant drop in weight for those who are obese can dramatically reduce high blood pressure and the risks of heart disease, stroke and other conditions.  In a study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, one-third of individuals who took medication for high blood pressure before undergoing bariatric surgery were able to reduce or eliminate their blood pressure medications after surgery2. Those who were not on blood pressure medication saw an even greater decrease in their blood pressure further reducing their risk for the complications of high blood pressure.

  1. Diabetes

Among probably the more dramatic effects of weight loss from procedures such as the gastric balloon system, are the effects weight loss surgery has on Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, the more common form of diabetes that affects obese individuals.  Type 2 Diabetes results when excess fatty tissue leads to insulin resistance, meaning insulin cannot take sugars out of the bloodstream for proper use in the organs of the body.  Sugar molecules then run rampant through the bloodstream and damage the small vessels of the body and the organs they serve.

Weight loss surgeries have been shown to improve insulin sensitivity by 2 to 3 times within just days after surgery!  Even before any noticeable weight loss occurs3!  Amazing! Among bariatric surgery patients previously diagnosed diabetes, 76.8% saw a complete resolution of their diabetes.  That’s HUGE!  Especially considering how diabetes dramatically increases one’s risk for heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, nerve pain and amputations.

  1. Arthritis

Excess weight adds significant pressure to the joints, especially large joints of the legs such as the knees and hips.  The extra load of obesity on the joint basically wears out the “shock absorbers” of the body, cartilage.  Just as a truck that consistently carries a heavy load will have it’s shock absorbers wear out quicker than a truck with a lighter load, an obese individual will have his or her joints wear out quicker than an individual at a healthy weight

Continuing to carry that load would eventually lead to bone on bone and likely joint

replacement but if a significant amount of weight can be lost, pressure on those joints can be relieved and pain reduced.  For every pound lost a 5 lbs decrease in pressure is taken off the joints.  Most individuals who undergo weight loss surgery lose 30-75 lbs of weight within the first 6 months. That’s approximately 150-375 lbs of pressure off the knees and hips!  Pain specialists can attest that majority of patients who took pain medication for arthritis before weight loss procedures like gastric balloon systems, are more likely to stop taking pain medication.  They not only have freedom from medication but freedom of mobility in general.  They can move and get around easier and quality of life skyrockets!  Even if joint replacement is still needed, those who have had bariatric surgery recover quicker and are less likely to experience post surgical complications.

  1. Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is condition that is closely associated with obesity and can also lead to heart disease.  Obesity contributes to sleep apnea because the excess weight compresses the airway during sleep which impairs ventilation.  Individuals with sleep apnea will go minutes without oxygen, basically suffocating intermittently while they sleep!  A decrease and occasional lack of oxygen to the heart and brain during sleep makes the heart work harder leading to early heart failure, daytime fatigue, mental fogginess and many other health conditions and symptoms.

However, 86% of individuals who undergo a significant reduction in weight as seen with gastric balloon systems and other weight loss procedures can see their sleep apnea improve if not entirely disappear along with the cardiorespiratory complications associated with it4.  Bariatric surgeries, including gastric balloon weight loss systems are now considered definitive treatment options for obstructive sleep apnea, regardless of the type of procedure performed.

  1. Fatty Liver Disease

The prevalence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in morbidly obese patients is growing at an alarming rate.  It now can be found in approximately 75 to 100% of obese individuals in the United States.  Fatty liver disease is one of the more common liver disease worldwide and is a significant risk factor for liver failure, cirrhosis.  Often individuals who are obese with fatty liver disease also have other risk factors such as diabetes and high blood pressure further multiplying their risk of death and poor quality of health.

Because of the close association between fatty liver and obesity, weight loss has proven to be an effective treatment strategy in NAFLD patients.  However, most patients fail to achieve a meaningful decrease in BMI with diet and exercise alone.  Gastric balloon systems and other weight loss procedures, on the other hand, have provided a reliable method of achieving weight loss and subsequent improvement in fatty liver disease. Studies show that after a average weight loss of 60% from weight loss surgery, fatty liver disappeared in 84% of individuals and fibrosis (scarring of the liver that leads to failure) disappeared in 75%. Benefits were sustained over several years5.

  1. Venous Stasis

Excess weight can also lead to extra pressure on the veins of the lower legs, leading to varicose veins and venous stasis disease.  Venous stasis is a condition characterized by the pooling of blood in the veins of the lower extremities leading to discomfort, pain and heaviness of the legs.  Often the bulging veins and discoloration commonly seen with varicose veins, are hidden under the excess fat, so many obese individuals don’t realize they have varicose veins until further complications develop.  With time, fluid from these veins have nowhere else to go and it seeps out into surrounding leg tissues and cause tissue breakdown and the formation of ulcers.  Unfortunately, venous stasis also leads to poor circulation so the wounds that develop are also extremely slow to heal and are more prone to infection. Rashes, discolored and thickened skin can also develop.

What’s amazing though, is that approximately 95%, (95%!) of those who undergo bariatric surgery experience complete resolution of venous stasis disease after surgery! Pressure is reduced because of the weight loss and with the increased mobility circulation improves.  Pain is relieved, ulcerations heal and that heaviness that becomes so bothersome, disappears.

  1. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) occurs when stomach contents reflux up into the esophagus (the feeding tube that connects the mouth to the stomach).  Individuals with GERD commonly experience symptoms such as heartburn, an unpleasant taste in the mouth and increased belching.  While there are many different causes of GERD, obesity contributes to reflux by increasing abdominal pressure on the stomach which in turn opens up the sphincter (the lower esophageal sphincter, LES) that is supposed to keep the stomach contents from refluxing into the esophagus.  Occasional heartburn is normal but when reflux occurs frequently over several years without treatment, it can lead to precancerous changes in the esophagus as well as erosions, ulcerations, tooth decay, difficulty swallowing and numerous other serious complications.

Reducing the abdominal pressure on the stomach through weight loss is an effective and recommended treatment for GERD.  Studies show that weight loss through lifestyle changes and in conjunction with weight loss procedures can lead to complete resolution of GERD symptoms and thus a reduced risk of its complications.  However, bariatric surgeries that significantly alter the anatomy of the digestive tract may increase the chances of GERD, making procedures such as the gastric balloon weight loss systems more desirable over surgeries like the gastric sleeve procedure for those who suffer from chronic symptoms of GERD.

  1. Depression

Depression is not uncommon in those who struggle with being overweight or obese.  Physical as well as societal factors play a huge role in the association with obesity and depression.  More than half of all individuals who seek out bariatric surgery and weight loss procedures meet the criteria for a psychiatric illness, specifically depression.

Weight loss specifically from the dramatic results produced by bariatric surgeries and gastric balloon weight loss systems can lead to a significant improvement in depression symptoms as well as an overall reduction in its prevalence.  Multiple studies report overall reduction in depression between approximately 55 to 65 % within the first two years following weight loss surgery.

  1. Heart Failure

A strong association exists between obesity and heart failure.  It is reported that obese individuals have twice the likelihood of developing heart failure compared with those at healthier weights.  Weight was reported as the third most important predictor of heart disease just under age and high cholesterol.

Bariatric surgery and the dramatic weight loss that comes follow has numerous positive effects on heart function as evidenced on diagnostic studies as well as in clinical symptoms.  Even sustained improvement is documented. At 5 years after surgery, the risk of pulmonary edema (fluid build up from a poorly functioning heart) remains significantly decreased6.

  1. Infertility

Obesity affects fertility by contributing to hormonal imbalances and irregularities with ovulation.  Obesity is often associated with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a common cause of infertility.  PCOS affects up to one in five women of reproductive age. By treating obesity, PCOS and other conditions can improve thus improving fertility, especially for women trying to have their first pregnancy.

Weight loss from procedures such as gastric balloon systems have proven to produce a positive change in female fertility.  A report in an issue of the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing found that women with fertility problems caused by obesity were found to start ovulating after weight loss from bariatric surgery. Another study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that weight loss following bariatric surgery and other weight loss procedures, resolved metabolic and reproductive abnormalities associated with obesity related fertility difficulties.

As you can see, there is no doubt that weight loss produced by bariatric surgeries and other weight loss procedures such as gastric balloon systems, can have a significant impact on an individual’s health, mortality and quality of life. Learn more about the Gastric Balloon or See if you qualify for the Gastric Balloon.

References:

  1. Christou NV, Sampalis JS, Liberman M, Look D, Auger S, McLean AP, MacLean LD. Surgery decreases long-term mortality, morbidity, and health care use in morbidly obese patients. Ann Surg. 2004; 240: 416–423;discussion 423–424.
  2. University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “Bariatric Surgery Leads To Long-term Blood Pressure Changes In Extremely Obese Patients.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 March 2006. <sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060320223638.htm>.
  3. Pories WJ, Swanson MS, MacDonald KG, Long SB, Morris PG, Brown BM, Barakat HA, deRamon RA, Israel G, Dolezal JM, Dohm L. Who would have thought it? An operation proves to be the most effective therapy for adult-onset diabetes mellitus. Ann Surg. 1995; 222: 339–350;discussion 350–352.
  4. Buchwald H, Avidor Y, Braunwald E, Jensen MD, Pories W, Fahrbach K, Schoelles K. Bariatric surgery: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA. 2004; 292: 1724–1737.CrossRefPubMed
  5. Mathurin P, Hollebecque A, Arnalsteen L et al. Prospective study of the long-term effects of bariatric surgery on liver injury in patients without advanced disease. Gastroenterology 137, 532–540 (2009).
  6. Christou NV, Sampalis JS, Liberman M, Look D, Auger S, McLean AP, MacLean LD. Surgery decreases long-term mortality, morbidity, and health care use in morbidly obese patients. Ann Surg. 2004; 240: 416–423;discussion 423–424.

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How Can Bariatric Surgery Help Your Quality Of Life

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Is Obesity The New Epidemic?

Obesity was not always a major health problem. Just since the 1980s, obesity worldwide has more than doubled1.  In the 1960s approximately 15% of those in the United States were obese, forty years later, in 2000, 37%2 were considered obese.  If the trend continues, 51% of the population will be obese by 2030. For most of the world’s history, famine and starvation have actually been the major threats to humanity and although it still is in certain portions of the world, the advances of technology and agricultural development have reduced the risk malnutrition significantly.  Now, obesity is the fifth leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for 2.8 million adults who die each year from obesity related causes1.  Unfortunately, children are fighting obesity and its health concerns as well.  Nearly 17% of children and adolescents, approximately 12.4 million, are obese in the United States3.

Obesity is defined as having an excess amount of adipose tissue (a.k.a. fat) to the point that it begins to negatively affect one’s health and quality of life.  Although it’s an imperfect measurement, the body mass index (BMI) is the most common way obesity is measured and decades worth of research has proven that the BMI provides a good estimate of how excessive fat correlates with serious medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, joint deterioration, along with a decreased quality of life and increased risk of death.  An individual’s BMI is calculated based on his/her height and weight (BMI = kg/m2).

The breakdown of BMI classifications is as follows:

BMI = 18.5-24.9 is considered a healthy weight

BMI = 25.0-29.9 is considered overweight

BMI = 30-39.9 is considered obese

BMI = 40 or greater is considered morbidly obese

Total muscle mass and waist circumference in addition to BMI, however, are important factors to take into account.  Muscle contains powerful metabolism factories and actually weighs more than fat.  Therefore, an extremely muscular individual may have an elevated BMI yet not be considered truly overweight or obese.  More and more studies have also identified waist circumference as a more accurate indicator of increased health risks compared to overall BMI.  Waist circumferences greater than 35 inches (88 cm) in women or 40 inches (102 cm) and greater in men, have a strong correlation with higher rates of obesity related conditions and death.

Although fat in and of itself, is not harmful and is actually necessary for life sustaining functions,  excess fat can start to harm the body and its function in a variety of ways.  One way fat can negatively affect the body, is that fat cells release substances that can cause a low level of inflammation.  Too much inflammation will cause swelling and harm to numerous organs. Inflammation and swelling of blood vessels can lead to heart attacks and strokes.  Swelling and inflammation in the liver and pancreas can interfere with their important functions in the body and ultimately accelerate liver failure.  Too much fat has also been linked the development of numerous cancers ranging from brain to colorectal cancer with many more in between.

Quality of life is also significantly affected by obesity.  Those who are overweight or obese are much more likely to experience arthritis, which is characterized by crippling pain and swelling of the joints.  Arthritis is a leading cause of disability and can contribute to even more weight gain, depression and other medical conditions that can limit one’s enjoyment of life, especially if they are constantly in pain and can’t participate in activities that would have otherwise brought them joy.

A Solution: Weight Loss Surgery

Weight loss surgery (a.k.a. bariatric surgery) is currently the leading medical intervention that provides a significant, sustained weight loss for those who are morbidly obese.  After weight loss surgery, not only is weight loss sustained, obesity ­related conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease are also dramatically decreased.  A large, controlled Swedish study with four thousand four hundred and forty seven obese participants, half of which had some form of weight loss surgery, were followed for approximately fifteen years.  Those who had weight loss surgery, had significantly less deaths related to cardiovascular disease, such as heart attacks and stroke4. They also had less cardiovascular events in general.

Low back pain is another common complaint among obese patients. A retrospective study of morbidly obese individuals who had undergone weight loss surgery discovered that compared to others, back and radicular pain was significantly lower and they also experienced a marked increase in the L4­5 intervertebral disc height thus reducing pressure on the discs and nerves of the low back5. Another study compared the average duration of remission in Type II diabetic who underwent bariatric surgery with those who only received conventional therapy with diet and exercise. Those who had a weight loss surgery, had an average of eleven years in remission over a lifetime compared with only two years in the conventional therapy group5.

 

The first effective weight loss surgery was done in the United States was in 1954. It was introduced by Kremen and Linner and called the jejunoileal bypass.  Similar to what today is known as the duodenal switch, this weight loss procedure bypassed 90% of the small intestine by connecting the front part of the jejunum (the middle part of the small intestine) to the end of the ileum (right where the small intestine meets the large intestine).  Weight loss was achieved by preventing a bulk of calories from being absorbed.  However, nutrients were also being blocked and many people who underwent this bariatric surgery found themselves in a serious state of malnutrition.  They also experienced an overgrowth of bacteria in the bypassed intestine which frequently led to toxic conditions such as liver failure, skin problems, digestive conditions and more.  Understandably, the procedure was abandoned and the search for better a bariatric procedure began.

Later in 1963, Drs. J. Howard Payne, Lorent T. DeWind and Robert R. Commons developed the Jejuno-colic Shunt, which connected the upper small intestine (the duodenum) to the large intestine, bypassing two-thirds of the small intestine.  The research that ultimately lead to what we now know as the gastric bypass, began in 1965 when Dr. Edward E. Mason and Dr. Chikashi Ito developed the original gastric bypass weight loss surgery at the University of Iowa.  Their gastric bypass surgery led to far fewer complications than earlier intestinal bypass surgeries and became the foundation for the bariatric surgeries we know today.  Dr. Edward E. Mason is considered the “father of bariatric surgery” due to his conception and pioneering of the gastric bypass surgery.

Concepts of Weight Loss Procedures

When it comes to weight loss surgery, three basic concepts exist.  First, is gastric restriction which aims to restrict the amount of food the stomach can hold, thus decreasing the amount of food an individual can eat.  Examples of weight loss surgeries that employ gastric restriction are intragastric balloons, adjustable gastric banding and sleeve gastrectomy.  The second concept is similar, gastric restriction with mild malabsorption.  The Roux en Y, also known as the gastric bypass surgery, is a popular bariatric surgery that restricts the amount of food one can eat at a time while also reducing the amount of food absorbed since part of the small intestine is bypassed. The third concept in weight loss surgery goes further with the malabsorption but not too far.  Like the first weight loss surgery performed in 1954, the duodenal switch bariatric surgery combines gastric restriction with decreased absorption by bypassing a larger part of the small intestine while also surgically decreasing the size of the stomach.

Over the past few years numerous clinical research studies and overall experience has enriched and supported the field of bariatric surgery.  Procedures are not only safer, they are more effective and bariatric surgeons often provide comprehensive support with dietary counseling and coaching to help their patients maintain their weight loss and healthy lifestyle.  Most weight loss procedures are permanent but others like the intragastric weight loss balloons are temporary and designed only to “jump start” the weight loss process, teach healthier eating habits and set people on the right path for their long term weight loss goals.

Types of Weight Loss Devices

In addition to the surgical weight loss surgeries such as the Roux en Y gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy, currently, in the United States there are seven FDA approved obesity treatment devices on the market. Worldwide, there are several more.  Of those approved in the U.S., there are four different categories: gastric banding, intragastric balloons, gastric emptying systems, and electrical stimulation systems.

Gastric banding is a restrictive but adjustable type of bariatric surgery that restricts the amount of food one can ingest at a time, thus aiding in weight loss and portion control.  The band is made of medical grade silicone and through a laparoscopic surgery (surgery that uses only small incisions) it is placed around the upper part of the stomach.  The band portion, also called the collar is attached to a port that is able to be accessed from outside the body in order to adjust the restrictiveness of the band.  The two types of gastric weight loss banding available in the U.S. include the LAP-BAND® and the REALIZE ™ Adjustable Gastric Band.

Intragastric balloon procedures have been used worldwide for more that 20 years to help individuals “jumpstart” weight loss and healthier eating habits. But just recently was approved by the FDA within the last two years.  By taking up space in the stomach, saline or air filled silicone balloons are placed in the stomach either endoscopically (an outpatient procedure that uses a flexible tube to place the balloon into the stomach by going in through the mouth and down the esophagus (our feeding tube) into the stomach).  Or by swallowing a deflated balloon contained in a dissolvable capsule.  Three gastric balloon procedures are approved for use in the U.S. and they are ReShape Integrated Dual Balloon System (Reshape Dual Balloon), ORBERA Intragastric Balloon System and Obalon Balloon System.

Another FDA approved weight loss system involves emptying the stomach after food is ingested and the only only FDA approved device in this category is the AspireAssist. The AspireAssist is a reversible weight loss device that utilizes a port to empty the contents of the stomach after a meal is ingested. A port valve that lies flush against the skin attaches to the tube and allows the stomach contents to be emptied after meals. Twenty to thirty minutes after consuming a meal, an individual attaches an external device that opens the port valve and drains the stomach’s contents into a toilet.

Electrical stimulation is the final category of FDA approved weight loss devices and involves placing an electrical stimulator under the skin of the abdomen to block nerve activity between the brain and stomach. The device approved of in the U.S. is The Maestro® System. A rechargeable neuroregulator is implanted into the fatty tissue under the skin and two electrodes are surgically placed on the nerve through laparoscopy by a bariatric surgeon. It delivers VBLOC® therapy which intermittently blocks nerve signals of hunger while the individual is awake. It can be removed or deactivated when necessary.

The Results

Many obese individuals frequently find themselves struggling with their weight and essentially feeling as if they’re trapped in a vicious weight loss/gain cycle.  Most Americans in general, have attempted numerous diets and other weight loss methods, only to see their weight yo-yo back and forth, eventually giving up on long-term weight loss.  When combined with a comprehensive treatment plan, weight loss surgery can serve as an effective tool to provide individuals with long term weight-loss and overall improved health and wellness.  Bariatric surgery has proven over the years to help improve or resolve many obesity-related conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and many more. Cancers as well are less frequent in those who are not obese.  Individuals who improve their weight and live a healthier lifestyle, often find themselves taking less and less medications to treat their obesity-related conditions while also living a fuller more enjoyable life. Additional, significant weight loss through bariatric surgery can also pave the way for many other exciting opportunities for the individual, their family, and most importantly, their health.

References:

  1. World Health Organisation Fact sheet N°311
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  3. Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
  4. Sjöström L, Peltonen M, Jacobson P, Sjöström CD, Karason K, Wedel H, et al. Bariatric surgery and long-term cardiovascular events. JAMA. 2012 Jan 4. 307(1):56-65. [Medline]
  5. Lidar Z, Behrbalk E, Regev GJ, Salame K, Keynan O, Schweiger C, et al. Intervertebral Disc Height Changes after Weight Reduction in Morbid Obese Patients, its Effect on Life Quality, Radicular and Low Back Pain. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2012 May 29. [Medline].

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Choosing the Right Bariatric Surgeon

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Bariatric procedures have changed quite a bit in the last 50 years, though the practice itself is still relatively new. Most of us know what gastric bypass surgery is, or know someone who has had a LAP band procedure, but times have changed. There are more options now than ever before to help jumpstart your journey to weight loss. With all these new procedures and options, comes new surgeons and professionals who are ready to accept you as their patient. How in the world do you choose the right professional for you? Choosing the right bariatric surgeon is one of the most imperative components of your experience, right behind having the procedure done in the first place.

When considering bariatric surgeons, there are many important factors that should come in to play.

Is your surgeon LOCAL?

In general, you are better off using a professional who is close to where you live. Finding a local doctor is usually best practice for medical procedures. It’s not just about the cost of traveling, which can be expensive, it is also about follow-up. Third party studies show that bariatric patients using a nonlocal surgeon had a greater chance of relapsing into weight gain over time, eventually exchanging their new, healthy habits for their old, damaging ones. This makes sense! If you are not keeping in contact with your doctor, they are not there to offer you support or help to hold you accountable. The further away the surgeon, the less likely you (or they) are to keep in touch.

Based on your location, you may not be able to find a local bariatric surgeon you feel comfortable with, or any at all. If you have no choice but to go with a nonlocal surgeon, it is important that you have a plan in place.  Whether you drive to a nearby professional or fly out, you should be prepared for staying a night or two. Ask the surgeon or hospital about accommodations for nonlocal patients. Does this practice or particular surgeon have experience with out-of-town patients? Are they able to suggest places to stay overnight? Do they have a feasible plan for post-op follow-up? If the bariatric facility/doctor you reach out to has trouble answering these questions, you may need to find yourself some other options.

Can you contact PREVIOUS PATIENTS?

Before-and-after photos are worth a thousand words. Testimonials are worth a million words. Real contact with previous patients is priceless. After having successful, life-changing procedures, patients sometimes allow future patients to contact them for advice or to lend an ear. Ask the bariatric surgeon you’re considering if they have previous patients that you can speak with. This is one of the best ways to get an idea of the experience you can expect. If you don’t have access to that information, or if you want to do more research, you can also watch testimonials of successful patients and become familiar with the before-and-after photo gallery. The more testimonials/photos, the more likely you are to get a similar service. In the digital media age, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to check Yelp! reviews or Facebook to look at a myriad of reviews. Although it is important to recognize reviews can be skewed, it’s still a good way to cross-reference your information.

Do you know their CREDENTIALS/EXPERIENCE?

When considering your bariatric surgeon, it is important to ensure that your surgeon has ample experience with your chosen procedure, and that their staff has adequate post-op etiquette. Although it is true that all doctors start somewhere (no one just has 100 procedures out of the gate), you need to understand the risks associated with that. The best chance you have for a successful and smooth procedure is to have a surgeon that could do your elected procedure in their sleep, so to speak.

Additionally, your bariatric surgeon should be completely up-to-date with all of their credentials. Your surgeon should be a part of ASMBS (American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery), be board certified for general surgery, and as a bonus, fellowship trained. You can always look this information up, or ask your prospective surgeon. The more societies, the more trained, the more experienced, the better the outcome.

Is your surgeon someone you can TRUST?

Trust has the ability to calm us down and relax our nerves. In a serious and life-changing bariatric procedure, you need to have trust in your surgeon and their team.  A lot of times, trust is an overwhelming feeling that cannot be described, but it doesn’t just happen. To develop a relationship built on trust, your surgeon should be able to answer every question you have with ease; really, there shouldn’t be any major question they can’t (or don’t have the time) to answer. We all know that surgeons are busy, and bariatric surgeons are no exception, but if you are spending your time, your money, and your future, you should be a priority. Many great practices even have support groups for before and after the procedure to ease your fears. Surgeons/practices that take the time to listen to their patients’ needs and try and accommodate them are worth the investment.

Is there a plan for POST OPERATION?

After undergoing a procedure in bariatrics, there is still a long road ahead. It’s not just making your stomach smaller or inserting balloons; your entire lifestyle is in for a change. While many patients are already on the path towards healthier habits before their procedure, managing your diet and exercise are serious components in your success in weight loss. A lot of these changes have to be implemented by the patient, but does the bariatric surgeon you’re considering have the tools to better help you succeed? We talked about support groups earlier, but what about the plan for patient follow-up? Does this practice have a dietitian on staff? If not, can they recommend one? Post operation is almost as important as the operation itself, and it cannot be taken lightly. You can likely find your own support group, therapist, or dietitian, but if the bariatric surgeon you’re looking at can’t help you find any of those, consider that a red flag.

The journey to weight loss isn’t an easy one, and kudos to everyone out there trying to get themselves healthier in any capacity. Bariatric procedures are making huge waves within the weight-loss community, and there are many more procedures and options out there now than ever before. While it takes more time to find the right bariatric surgeon for you, one whom you trust and who will provide a great service, you will be happy you did your research. When it comes to the future of you and your body, you need to invest in what’s right for you.

If you have any questions regarding bariatric surgeons in your area, feel free to fill out our form. We’d love to start getting you connected to bariatric surgeons in your area.

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