Bariatric surgery can help those who struggle to shed pounds; often short-circuits related medical conditions
Published: Thursday, May 19, 2011, 9:21 AM Updated: Thursday, May 19, 2011, 9:24 AM
Tips from Staten Island University Hospital
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — OCEAN BREEZE — By the time Kenneth Hood considered gastric bypass surgery in 2006, he had gained and lost 100 pounds twice and was tipping the scale at 325 pounds.
Hood was battling hypertension, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, back aches and type 2 diabetes. Taking five different medications to manage his health risks was the norm.
But within months of his surgery at Staten Island University Hospital (SIUH), Hood no longer required them, including two medications for his diabetes.
"My blood sugar was normal. My blood pressure was normal. I didn't have the PVCs, the little (heart) palpitations that were also part of the hypertension. I stopped with the sleep apnea," explained the 50-year-old New Dorp father of two. "It's all from the weight loss."
Like Hood, countless others who have undergone weight-loss, or bariatric, surgery have experienced similar improvements in their health.
"Weight loss surgery is not just about pounds," explained Dr. Karen E. Gibbs, director of bariatric surgery at SIUH's Ocean Breeze campus. "What we recognize over time is that as people are losing weight, certain illnesses like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, and heart disease are also improving."
Mounting evidence of these benefits has led the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) in March to support bariatric surgery, such as gastric bypass and lap band procedures, as a treatment option for type 2 diabetics among patients who are obese and have a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 35 or more.
"Bariatric surgery for severely obese people with type 2 diabetes should be considered much earlier in management rather than held back as a last resort," said IDF spokesman Prof. Sir George Alberti, a renowned London-based diabetes researcher.
According to the IDF – an umbrella organization of over 200 national diabetes associations in over 160 countries – type 2 diabetes is one of the fastest growing diseases. Close to 300 million people are affected worldwide and it is estimated that 450 million people will develop the condition by 2030.
The procedure is just the first step toward improved health for the patient, cautions Dr. Gibbs.
"The surgery is only one portion of the work that is necessary to be successful," she explained. "Having a healthy diet and an exercise regimen is important in terms of getting to the desired weight as well as maintaining it for a lifetime."
Nearly five years after his surgery, Hood, an MRI supervisor at Verrazano Radiology in Ocean Breeze, maintains his weight at around 175 pounds. His healthier weight allows him to do things that were once beyond his grasp.
"The larger part of weight-loss surgery is really getting to a healthier lifestyle, losing a lot of those medical problems that patients are often suffering with, and living longer," said Dr. Gibbs.
This story is part of Staten Island University Hospital's community outreach through the Shore sections of the Staten Island Advance. It was prepared by Diane O'Donnell.
Gastric bypass surgery involves several steps, explained Dr. Karen Gibbs, director of bariatric surgery at Staten Island University Hospital.
Reconfiguring the stomach
First, a patient's stomach is divided into two sections: A small upper pouch for food intake and larger one below.
"You're no longer going to be using the larger portion because it's disconnected," said the surgeon. "Then we take a portion of the intestine and connect it to that small stomach so it bypasses the larger portion of the stomach."
The smaller stomach restricts the amount of food a patient eats and the altered digestive tract limits the number of calories and amount of nutrients absorbed, which enables weight loss.
Staten Island University Hospital will host free seminars on weight-loss surgery on June 13 and again on July 11 at 6 p.m. in the Medical Arts Pavilion, 242 Mason Ave. Call 718-226-1300 for information, or to reserve a spot.
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