All across our state, the number of overweight and obese individuals is rapidly increasing. In the Evergreen State alone almost 60% of the population is overweight or obese. Obesity leads to millions of preventable deaths in the United States annually, and may lead to life-threatening ailments, including diabetes, certain kinds of cancer, heart conditions, and hypertension. According to a recent study, the diseases caused by obesity directly cost the people of Washington at least $1 billion each year, with the productivity losses stemming from obesity-related physical inactivity sapping more than $4.6 billion more annually from Washington’s economy.
Find a Way Out
Living with obesity can be a struggle. Many of those suffering from this condition attempt to lose their excess weight by means of crazy diets, brutal exercise programs, or fake “weight-loss pills”. Often, these efforts lead them to lose significant weight, but many quickly regain it after they discontinue their weight loss program.
Fortunately, another option exists: weight loss surgery. Surgical weight loss – also known as bariatric surgery – has been proven to address obesity-related health problems for individuals with a body mass index of 35 or higher and lessen their chances of developing weight-related health problems in the future.
About Weight Loss Surgery
The three main types of weight loss surgery are malabsorptive procedures, such as the sleeve gastrectomy; restrictive procedures, like the Lap-Band; and combination procedures, like gastric bypass surgery. All of these are performed under general anesthesia, usually laparoscopically, and each has different risks and benefits. Some procedures, however, may need to be performed through open surgery.
Lap-band surgery, or gastric banding, is the most common weight loss procedure. An inflatable silicone prosthetic band is placed around the top portion of the stomach using a laparoscope, creating a small pouch. The band is inflated with saline and adjusted via a small port placed just under the skin. Because of the way the stomach is restricted, patients feel hungry less often and feel full more quickly, causing them to eat smaller portions and thereby lose weight. The procedure is minimally invasive and generally has a faster recovery time with lower risk of postoperative complications compared with the gastric bypass. However, Lap-band surgery requires the patient to make periodic visits with their bariatric surgeon for band readjustment.
Considering Surgical Weight Loss
Weight loss surgery can be a true lifesaver. However, patients who fail to follow postoperative instructions may regain any weight lost or quickly hit a plateau in their weight loss. Those considering bariatric surgery as an option for the management of obesity should carefully weigh the risks and possible outcomes of these procedures in consultation with their physician, and determine whether they are willing to make the long-term commitment to changing their diet and exercise habits that is needed for lasting success.
It’s time we got on the ball, Washington. We must defeat this plague of obesity, and with determination we can.