Bariatric Surgery: Frequently Asked Questions
Dr. William Avara is a board certified bariatric surgeon performing weight loss surgery at Singing River Health System. In this Q&A, Dr. Avara discusses how bariatric surgery helps fight obesity and the problems that obesity causes, such as diabetes and hypertension.
“I’ve been diagnosed as obese, but I feel good. Why should I be concerned about it?”
Morbid obesity is an illness, and it hurts people. I think so many people fail to recognize that severe obesity or morbid obesity is not a cosmetic issue. It’s a health issue, and, if left untreated, the potential for diabetes, hypertension and other problems like that goes up.
Not treating morbid obesity is like not taking care of your diabetes or your hypertension. There are going to be long-term results that are hurtful to each patient.
“What are the options for those suffering from morbid obesity?”
People that have modest weight loss and weight gain problems can be treated with exercise and dietary changes. Sometimes we use some drug regimens.
However, for morbidly obese people with a serious weight problem that affects their health, they are going to have to have some form of surgery. There are multiple different surgical techniques available that will help control that problem.
“What’s the connection between morbid obesity and diabetes?”
I don’t think anybody really understands. However, we know that the epidemic in diabetes we see in America, and most of the developed countries today, parallels the epidemic of morbid obesity.
There is good evidence to suggest that when a person’s body weight becomes great, it overwhelms some of the body’s systems. For example, its ability to control glucose. You get inflammation. The body is trying so hard to deal with excess weight that things begin to become unhinged.
There is no question that morbid obesity, diabetes, hypertension, joint problems, other chronic illnesses, and even increased risk of cancer are all associated with a severe overweight state.
“How can bariatric surgery help treat type 2 diabetes?”
The studies are really amazing. They show us that even before there is very much weight loss, many patients with diabetes who have had bariatric surgery see a tremendous improvement in their diabetes and hypertension, sometimes before they even leave the hospital.
We think this has to do with all kinds of hormones and signaling agents that are in the intestine and in the stomach. There is a lot of research going on and weight loss definitely improves a person’s diabetes and hypertension problems, but the surgery itself is doing something fundamental to the metabolic activity in our bodies. Surgery can produce a dramatic improvement.
“What’s the recovery time for bariatric surgery?”
Most people go home within a day or two after surgery from the hospital, and we have them walking and doing some things. Within a week or two, we encourage most people to be doing some stretching and light exercising.
When they come back to see us in a clinic at about three weeks, they are free to start any type of physical activity that they want. They may go slow in certain areas, but it’s just a matter of a couple weeks before people should be full speed ahead.
“Does South Mississippi Surgical Weight Loss Center help people with post-surgery diet recommendations?”
Absolutely! The surgery is critically important, but the long-term follow-up, the post-operative care, is so incredibly important. This is because we don’t cure this illness, we just begin to control it.
It’s important for patients to follow-up with us. We want to check their lab work, make sure that their weight is staying down, and know if they are staying healthy. We check a lot of things in their blood work.
The long-term care after surgery is extraordinarily important. That’s where we see long-term success with people who follow up, come back, and let us help keep them on the right path.
“Do I need a referral to get an appointment with South Mississippi Surgical Weight Loss Center?”
You do not have to have a referral to come see us. However, I think that talking to your primary care physician about your health problems is absolutely what most of us should do.
However, if you have severe obesity, you should at least contact South Mississippi Surgical Weight Loss Center. We have free information online where people can get a tremendous amount of information. Come in to see us to get started and discover your options. There are lots of different ways to approach this disease.