Surgery

Today, more than half of all Americans are considered overweight or obese, and doctors have noticed the impact on patients' health. "When we urge people to lose weight, our goal is to reduce patients' risks for weight-related health conditions," says Charles Svendsen, MD, a bariatric surgeon with Park Nicollet Bariatric Surgery Center.

Obesity is a disease that results from consuming more calories than the body burns. The excess calories are stored as fat, which is an underlying risk factor for diabetes, cancer, coronary arterty disease (including high blood pressure and high cholesterol), respiratory problems (including sleep apnea), arthritis and back pain.

Who is a candidate?

To determine if people are candidates for bariatric surgery, doctors use a tool known as the Body Mass Index (BMI), a measurement based on weight and height. (To find your BMI, use our calculator.) People are considered if they are:

morbidly obese, defined as having a BMI greater than 40, or being approximately 100 pounds overweight for men, and 80 pounds overweight for women.
obese, defined as having a BMI between 35 and 40, and having weight-related health conditions.
"Urging people to lose weight is a sensitive topic, and I like to remind patients that we understand what an enormous struggle losing weight and keeping it off can be," Dr. Svendsen says. "Obesity is a complex condition with hormonal, physiologic, genetic and cultural components."

Benefits of bariatric surgery

Medical literature shows that 95 percent of severely obese people are not successful losing weight and keeping it off with diet and exercise alone. But, when bariatric surgery is added to that mix, 80 percent achieve lasting success. Studies* also show bariatric surgery improves and resolves many health concerns.

High cholesterol is improved by 70 percent or more.
Type 2 diabetes is resolved in 77 percent of all cases.
High blood pressure is resolved in 62 percent of all cases.
Sleep apnea is resolved in 86 percent of all cases.
Ongoing support also helpful

In addition to regular medical visits following surgery, Park Nicollet Bariatric Surgery Center offers support group meetings. "After surgery, I encourage patients to take advantage of our many support programs," Dr. Svendsen says. "The initial weight loss is very exciting. But, eventually, everyone can use a little motivation from time to time to maintain long-term lifestyle changes."