For people who have struggled to reach a healthy body mass index (BMI) through diet, exercise, or medical therapy, bariatric surgery—which has proven effective at causing long-term weight loss, lengthening life and reducing the burden of diabetes, high blood pressure and other diseases—might be the tool they need to live a healthier life.
In October 2017, HSHS Sacred Heart opened the Medical and Surgical Weight Loss Clinic, where Brandon Andrew, MD, offers two types of bariatric surgery: gastric bypass and gastric sleeve. Having one of these procedures, however, is just part of a larger, more holistic process.
MAKING A WELL-INFORMED DECISION
The first step involves attending a free information session where patients are given an overview of the various procedures available, the benefits of weight loss surgery in general, and the criteria that would make them eligible. Candidates for weight loss surgery must have a BMI of 40 or higher, or a BMI of 35 or higher with an obesity related health condition, such as diabetes, hypertension, or heart disease.
SETTING THE STAGE FOR SUCCESS
Once a patient decides to undergo bariatric surgery, he or she will spend up to six months preparing for it. “Our patients meet with a dietitian monthly to learn about ways to eat healthier, as well as about issues such as transitioning from a liquid diet, which is necessary right after surgery, back to regular foods,” says Jeannie Pittenger, MSN, Stroke, Bariatric, and Telemedicine Coordinator at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital. “They also meet with a pharmacist about any medication changes that may be necessary, a physical therapist to learn about the importance of exercise, and a psychologist to evaluate their mental health.”
The Medical and Surgical Weight Loss Clinic also offers monthly support groups that cover a wide range of topics—from adjusting to a new body and body image, to buying new clothes, to navigating potential setbacks.
In the months after surgery, patients have multiple follow-up appointments with Dr. Andrew and the bariatric program’s dietitian to ensure they are achieving their weight-loss goals and getting the right amount of nutrients to stay healthy. Eventually, they transition to annual appointments. “Bariatric surgery can help patients take charge of their lives again, but the ongoing support they receive is what makes the difference,” Pittenger says. “We’re here for them for as long as they need us.”
Interested in attending a free bariatric surgery education session? Call Evergreen Surgical at 715.832.1044 for upcoming dates and information.