Every year, countless resolutions are made following the holidays to “lose that extra weight once and for all.” While there is no magic solution, there is a medical solution at Abrazo Health hospitals.

In the United States, more than two-thirds of the population suffer from obesity, and the numbers continue to increase. When diet, exercise and medications have failed, there is still another option! It may be time to consider weight loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery.

Obesity increases the risks of morbidity and mortality because of the diseases and conditions that are commonly associated with it, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease, among other health risks. Weight loss surgery may provide effective, lasting relief from severe obesity for appropriate patients, according to Daniel Fang, MD, FACS, FASMBS, bariatric surgeon at Abrazo’s Scottsdale Campus.

Weight loss surgery may be an option for adults with a body mass index (BMI) equal to or greater than 40, or equal to or greater than 35 with serious health problems related to obesity. While weight loss surgery is considered safe, like any surgery, it does have potential risks. Those who are considering surgical weight loss should talk to their physician about the risks and benefits of weight loss surgery.

“Weight loss surgery is designed to help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight, and it can help alleviate many other obesity-related conditions like heart disease, diabetes, sleep apnea, depression and more,” said Fang.

The good news is that typically the benefits of weight loss surgery far outweigh the risks, with results including long-term remission or reversal of type 2 diabetes; improved mobility and increased energy; lowered risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke; reduced or eliminated joint pain; improved mood and feelings of well-being and increased self-esteem and confidence.

The Abrazo Medical and Surgical Weight Loss Program at Scottsdale Campus is fully accredited as a comprehensive bariatric facility by the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP) of the American College of Surgeons and American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. Being accredited through MBSAQIP provides guidance for hospitals to build and sustain safe, efficacious and high quality care bariatric programs, according to Dr. Fang.

If you’re wondering if you’re a candidate for weight-loss surgery, there are some indicators. Those with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or more or who are more than 100 pounds overweight (for example, an adult who is 5’11” tall and weighs 290 pounds would have a BMI over 40) or a BMI of 35 or more and at least two obesity related issues such as type II diabetes (T2DM), hypertension, sleep apnea and other respiratory disorders, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, osteoarthritis, lipid abnormalities, gastrointestinal disorders, or heart disease could be ideal for this type of surgery. Another candidate for this type of medical weight loss solution would be those with the inability to achieve a healthy weight through traditional weight loss methods.

When considering this surgery, keep in mind that the National Institutes of Health and the American College of Surgeons and the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery recommend that surgery be performed by a board-certified surgeon with specialized experience/training in bariatric and metabolic surgery, and at a center that has a multidisciplinary team of experts for follow-up care.

Follow-up care can include meeting with a nutritionist, an exercise physiologist or specialist, and a mental health professional. In addition, some insurance companies require that the surgery be performed at a facility that meets the ASMBS-approved quality standards. Facilities which meet high standards or quality, like those outlined in MBSAQIP, are preferable choices for patients.

What to Expect
When combined with a comprehensive treatment plan, bariatric surgery may act as an effective tool to provide long term weight-loss and help increase one’s quality of health, explains Dr. Fang.

Bariatric surgery, such as gastric bypass, gastric sleeve and duodenal switch, work by changing the anatomy of your gastrointestinal tract (stomach and digestive system) or by causing different physiologic changes in your body that change your energy balance and fat metabolism.

“Regardless of which bariatric surgery procedure you and your surgeon decide is best for you, it is important to remember that bariatric surgery is a tool. Weight loss success also depends on many other important factors, such as nutrition, exercise, and behavior modification.

“By changing your gastrointestinal anatomy, certain bariatric procedures affect the production of intestinal hormones in a way that reduces hunger and appetite and increases feelings of fullness. The end result is reduction in the desire to eat and in the frequency of eating,” said Dr. Fang. “Unlike dietary weight loss, surgical weight loss has a higher rate of success because an appropriate energy balance is created.”

Bariatric surgery may improve a number of conditions and cause hormonal changes to reverse the progression of obesity. Several studies have found that more than 90 percent of bariatric patients are able to maintain a long-term weight loss of 50 percent excess body weight or more.

Another large population study comparing mortality rates of bariatric and non-bariatric patients found a greater than 90 percent reduction in death associated with diabetes and a greater than 50 percent reduction in death from heart disease, added Dr. Fang.

“The mortality rate for bariatric surgery is similar to that of a gallbladder removal and considerably less than that of a hip replacement. This is quite remarkable considering that most patients affected by severe obesity are in poor health and have one or more life-threatening diseases at the time of their surgery,” said Dr. Fang. “In addition to improvements in health and longevity, surgical weight loss improves overall quality of life.”

Where to Learn More
Abrazo Health offers bariatric weight loss programs serving the North Valley and beyond with compassionate bariatric physician’s weight loss team members who offer personalized weight loss wellness plans.

“Accreditation is independent verification that Abrazo Scottsdale Campus is providing quality care and excellent outcomes for its bariatric patients, substantiated through an onsite survey and observations by representatives of the American College of Surgeons and American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery,” said Dr. Fang. “We firmly believe in a holistic approach to bariatric weight loss that offers not just surgical options but includes nutrition, exercise and behavior modification. We want to help people recharge and reclaim their lives.”

The Abrazo Medical and Surgical Weight Loss Program at Scottsdale Campus is designed to understand each individual’s struggles with diet and exercise, discuss approaches to weight loss, and guide each individual through their weight loss journey. For more information about surgical weight loss procedures, information seminars, support groups and more, visit AbrazoHealth.com.