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Published on September 02, 2015

Weight-loss Surgery Can Boost Health in Many Ways

Cottage Health
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Bariatric surgery can be an effective tool to help patients lose large amounts of weight and keep it off. And while patients enjoy the dramatic changes in the way they look, their weight loss helps with a long list of chronic health issues.

That list includes sleep apnea, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, migraines, joint pain, arthritis and urinary incontinence. “Greater than 80 percent (of patients) will improve across the board for all those things,” says Dr. David Thoman, medical director of bariatric surgery for Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. “That’s why we’re doing it.”

A favorite part of his job as a surgeon is following the progress of bariatric patients as they return for follow-up visits after surgery. “The first two months they will typically lose 40 to 50 pounds, and maybe 100 pounds in the first six months.”

Cottage Health has a comprehensive bariatric surgery program featuring Dr. Thoman of Advanced Surgical Associates, Dr. Marc Zerey with Sansum Clinic and Dr. Farida Bounoua of Santa Barbara Minimally Invasive & Bariatric Surgery. All three are board-certified in bariatric surgery, and each uses laparoscopic techniques that are less invasive than traditional open surgery.

The National Institutes of Health has recognized bariatric surgery as an effective treatment to combat severe obesity and maintain weight loss long term. In general, bariatric surgery either changes the anatomy of the stomach and digestive system or causes physiological changes that reduce hunger and increase feelings of fullness. The three common bariatric surgeries are gastric bypass, gastric sleeve and gastric banding.

Dr. Bounoua chose to specialize in bariatric surgery as a result of her previous research in diabetes, which can affect the entire body over time and shorten life expectancy. As her patients lose weight after surgery, she says, their diabetes improves and in many cases it is resolved. Beyond those and other health benefits, she sees many of her patients blossom with increased confidence as they have more opportunities to take part in society.

“They have more zest in life, their quality of life improves and they see life differently,” she says.

Weight-loss surgery is successful when combined with positive changes in nutrition, eating and activity levels. Before bariatric surgery with Cottage Health, each patient attends an information seminar and meets with the chosen surgeon to determine what surgery would be best. The patient also meets with a dietician, has a psychiatric evaluation and other medical tests done ahead of surgery. Patients have several follow-up visits the first year after surgery and also take part in support groups.

While the surgery can be empowering, Dr. Zerey says, patients need to understand that it is only a tool to secure a better life, and that it won’t be effective without long-term changes in eating and increased activity. Ideally, that includes aerobic and muscle-building exercise, because it’s not just about losing pounds but changing the body’s physiology for the better. “We really make sure they are getting healthier, not just thinner,” says Dr. Zerey, a frequent lecturer on weight-loss topics who also chairs Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital’s surgery department.

Follow this link for a schedule of our free bariatric weight-loss seminars.

This article was originally distributed through the Health E-Living Newsletter. To subscribe, follow this link and fill out the short form to receive the bi-weekly Cottage Health E-Living Newsletter.

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