• Weights Lifted: Gastric Sleeve Surgery Helps Patients Shed More Than Pounds

    Weights Lifted: Gastric Sleeve Surgery Helps Patients Shed More Than Pounds

    By Dr. Mustafa Ahmed

    A diamond, so the saying goes, is forever. Unfortunately, apparently so are fat cells – whose numbers seem only to increase. And sticking around creates growing problems. It’s not fair, but – like snowballs rolling downhill – as pounds get added, they create bigger and bigger obstacles to being healthy, which requires not just losing weight but being able to keep that weight off.

    Sleeve gastrectomy, typically a laparoscopic procedure that shapes the stomach into a much smaller tube-like “sleeve,” is increasingly helping with long-term weight loss that can’t be achieved through dieting alone – offering patients a way to address other serious health problems.

    We need to reframe our perspective about weight-loss surgery versus diet alone. “The reality is that the deck is stacked against successful dieters, who put in a lot of time and effort to lose weight. But afterwards they have to work much, much harder than the person who hasn’t had to diet. So we hear about the ‘yo-yo’ effect. But it’s not simply about self-control. It’s about how a ‘successful’ diet can cause negative metabolic changes that ultimately work against the individual and result in gaining back the weight that was lost.

    And regaining weight is a deadly serious issue.

    Excess weight is life threatening, pointing to increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer, as well as loss of self-esteem and depression. “Sleeve gastrectomy – often called ‘gastric sleeve’ – can help people actually maintain weight loss.

    According to the non-profit American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), weight-loss operations can reduce obesity-related deaths by as much as 89 percent. Sleeve gastrectomy, the group reports, stands at the forefront of such procedures, becoming the most common in 2013.

    The effectiveness was beyond what we had anticipated. Sleeve gastrectomy was intended to be step one in a two-step operation. But we found that – in part by reducing a patient’s stomach size – the procedure can independently achieve significant long-term weight loss.

    5 Tips on the Impact of Gastric Sleeve Surgery:

    1. Unlike diets alone, gastric sleeve surgery helps maintain weight loss: Sleeve gastrectomy doesn’t just help people lose weight. Research shows the procedure decreases the hunger-causing hormone ghrelin and increases beneficial digestive acids that aid metabolism. This helps patients maintain a healthier weight and reach overall health goals.

    2. It can help your heart: Excess weight is really hard on the heart. We’ve seen weight-loss surgery help with high cholesterol. It can cut in half the death rate associated with heart disease – this country’s number one killer. Just this August, research showed that patients with high blood pressure saw their risk of unplanned hospital care drop by 40 percent.

    3. It pushes back against diabetes: We’ve seen post-surgery remission rates at close to 90 percent. Great news given the disease’s staggering casualties: Almost 12 million ER visits a year, more than 76,000 deaths. And recent research suggests that these numbers are conservative.

    4. It supports healthier sleep: Obesity causes sleep problems. In terms of sleep apnea, the vast majority of patients see that clear up after surgery, which significantly helps their overall wellbeing.

    5. It addresses “metabolic syndrome”: The term refers to a cluster of problems – stomach fat, poor cholesterol, and high triglycerides, blood sugar and blood pressure – that add up to a greater likelihood of developing diabetes and heart disease, as well as having a stroke. Sleeve gastrectomy can alleviate these life-threatening risks.

    In my practice we emphasize that the benefits of gastric sleeve surgery extend far beyond any one specific health measure: Maintaining weight loss opens the door to a healthy life and the freedoms it offers.

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