Weight loss surgery Q&A with an expert

Bariatric surgery can help you lose weight and reduce the risk of obesity-related illnesses

Weight loss surgery Q&A with an expert

Weight loss surgery is often misunderstood. Bree Dewing, M.D., sets the record straight about the life-changing procedure.

How does weight loss surgery work?

There are several types of weight loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery. They all involve changes to the digestive system that help a person lose weight by limiting the amount they can eat or the calories their body can absorb.

Sanford Bismarck offers gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy procedures. Most patients lose 60 to 80% of their excess weight in the first year after surgery.

Gastric bypass is often done as a laparoscopic surgery, with small incisions in the abdomen. This surgery reduces the size of your upper stomach to a small pouch about the size of an egg. The surgeon does this by stapling off the upper section of the stomach. This reduces the amount of food you can eat.

Learn more about gastric bypass surgery.

Gastric sleeve surgery restricts your food intake, which leads to weight loss. You may lose from 50 to 90 pounds, but each person’s results will vary. It’s also often done as a laparoscopic surgery.

Most of the left part of the stomach is removed. The remaining stomach is formed into a narrow tube called a sleeve. After the surgery, less food will make you full when eating.

Learn more about gastric sleeve surgery.

Who may be a good candidate for weight loss surgery?

Good candidates for weight loss surgery are those who haven’t had success keeping their weight down with dieting, portion control and a committed exercise program. Generally, this surgery is an option if for patients with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher, especially if they have other serious weight-related health problems.

Besides looking and feeling better, what are some benefits of losing weight?

Losing weight is about improving quality of life, not just lowering numbers on a scale. The benefits of losing weight include:

  • A lower risk for obesity-related diseases
  • Less need for certain medications
  • Increased mobility
  • Better body image

Some obesity-related problems that can be improved or avoided with bariatric surgery include:

  • Diabetes
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Heart disease
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disorder
  • Sleep apnea
  • Liver or gallbladder disease
  • Infertility
  • Stroke
  • Certain lung diseases
  • Some mental health disorders

Bariatric surgery should not be a last resort. Like any other chronic disease, the sooner obesity and its consequences are treated, the better the outcomes.

Is surgery a good solution for losing weight?

Surgery is a great option for losing weight, but it is not a cure-all. For long-term success, patients need to make permanent dietary changes and exercise regularly.

A common misconception is that weight loss surgery has a high rate of complications. In reality, weight loss surgery is one of the safest elective surgeries.

How do I know if weight loss surgery is right for me?

The Sanford Bismarck bariatric surgery team is here to help patients understand their options and provide the support they need to transform their health.

Sanford offers free monthly informational sessions for patients interested in weight loss surgery.  The sessions are an opportunity to get questions answered by an expert and meet the members of our weight loss surgery team, including our weight loss coordinator and dietitian.

Learn more and register for a virtual informational session.

Bree Dewing, M.D., is a weight loss surgeon at Sanford Clinic in Bismarck. She earned a medical degree at Saba University School of Medicine in Saba, Netherlands Antilles, and completed her residency in general surgery at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Grand Forks.

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Posted In Bismarck, General Surgery, Weight Loss