Local hospital hosts weight loss surgery seminars

Reporter and Reporter

The Wood County Hospital is hosting free seminars for those interested in learning about weight loss surgery.

Surgeons and other members of the program will present information on a variety of surgical options and the entire weight-loss process.

Weight loss surgery is about improving the quality of lives, minimizing the effects of health problems related to obesity and extending lifespans, said Kristina Shultz, Bariatric Financial Counselor at Wood County Hospital.

At the seminar, attendees will learn that although there are non-surgical weight loss methods such as diet and exercise programs, as well as medical treatments, they typically result in smaller amounts of weight loss and are not as successful at maintaining weight loss long-term.

On average, a person can lose about 5 to 10 percent of their excess weight. The majority of patients in studies show they can lose about 20 pounds, Shultz said. The problem with those programs is that they have a high failure rate in the long term; 95 percent of the patients will regain that weight that they lost and gain a little bit more.

By contrast, surgical weight loss has a higher success rate in terms of amount of weight lost and long-term durability. Weight loss surgery is done for permanent weight loss, and good weight loss surgery has at least ten year success rates of losing more than 50 to 60 percent of a person’s excess weight and maintaining it.

“Ninety-eight percent of individuals out there who are morbidly obese will never lose any significant weight and never keep that weight off without surgery,” Shultz said.

However, attendees will also learn simply being overweight, even to the point of obesity, may not mean they’re automatically a candidate for weight loss surgery, said Catharine Harned, Marketing director at Wood County Hospital. Because each case is different, the doctors will be best equipped to decide if weight loss surgery should be something for one to consider.

According to the National Institutes of Health, the basic standards for qualifying for weight loss surgery include weight and Body Mass Index and related health problems. More specifically, men would be at least 100 pounds overweight and women would be at least 80 pounds overweight, with a BMI of 40 or more, Harned said.

In addition, the presence of health problems related to obesity, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea or other conditions makes it more likely to qualify for weight loss surgery, Harned said. If one has a BMI of 35 to 39.9 and have at least one of these conditions, weight loss surgery would be an appropriate option.

While being qualified for the surgery is an important factor, learning the numerous benefits of such a surgery is just as essential. At the seminar, the doctor will explain such a procedure’s benefits with weight loss. Studies indicate weight loss surgery may be among the most effective treatments for metabolic diseases and conditions including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and liver disease, among other conditions, Shultz said.

“Diabetes was completely resolved in 76 percent of patients and resolved or improved in 86 percent,” Shultz said. “Treating obesity with weight loss surgery helps patients not only extend their lives, but it helps them improve the quality of their lives as well.”

Besides improving their quality of life, attendees of the seminar will also learn about the different types of weight loss surgery offered at the center, Shultz said. There are two basic types of weight loss surgery, including restrictive surgeries and malabsorptive/restrictive surgeries, which help with weight loss in different ways.

Restrictive surgeries work by physically restricting the size of the stomach and slowing down digestion. A normal stomach can hold about three pints of food, Shultz said. After surgery, the stomach might at first hold as little as an ounce, although later could stretch to two or three ounces. The smaller the stomach, the less one can eat and the more weight one loses.

However, malabsorptive/restrictive surgeries are more invasive surgeries that work by changing how you take in food, Shultz said. In addition to restricting the size of the stomach, these surgeries physically remove parts of your digestive tract, which makes it harder for your body to absorb calories.

“The best one for a patient depends on a lot of things … their goals, their surgeon’s preference, their current health and of course, which procedures are covered by their insurance,” Shultz said.

While understanding what procedure is suitable for a patient, it’s also important to remember no surgical procedure is without risk.

Any time anesthesia is in use, there are risks of allergic reaction or breathing problems, she said. This is true for any surgical procedure. Other risks that may be part of surgery include the possibility of blood clots, infection, blood loss, heart attack, or stroke.

“The risks of such complications are significantly lower when patients are treated by experienced surgeons,” Shultz said.