Bariatric Surgery Explained

Cobb Living Magazine Article – by Susan Champion

Weight loss surgery has experienced growing popularity over the past ten years as witnessed by celebrities such as Carnie Wilson, Roseanne Barr and Randy Jackson publicly sharing their experience and success. Many of you may be considering this option in your battle of the bulge and may be wondering "is this right for me". Weight loss surgery is a major step and isn’t appropriate for everyone. Patients considered for surgery must be morbidly obese or at least 100 pounds overweight.

Weight loss surgery isn’t a "magic pill" which works by itself or allows people to continue to eat as they would before the surgery. It requires a commitment to changing your lifestyle to focus on your health and your approach to food. Life after weight loss surgery entails adherence to dietary guidelines, a regular exercise program, and periodic checkups with lab work for life. It also includes counseling in support groups to assist patients in identifying and changing old behaviors which led to their poor health and weight problem.

All these changes require a "team" of advisors in your surgeon’s office to help you change and monitor your health. It is extremely important for candidates for weight loss surgery to choose their surgeon carefully to insure they have access to a comprehensive wellness program with experience. The Videoscopic Institute of Atlanta, located in Marietta, has a comprehensive "team" of professionals and has experience with over 2000 weight loss surgeries performed laparoscopically the past ten years. The practice treats patients from across the country and provides exercise groups, support groups throughout the Southeast, educational material, dietary counseling, lab monitoring for vitamin and nutritional deficiencies and routine in-office bone scans to minimize the risk of osteoporosis. Post-operative office visits, dietary counseling and education, and support groups are covered under the initial surgical fee and provided free of charge to patients.

"We are unique in this", states Dr Champion, "post operative care and monitoring is provided as a service to our patients". Patients return for periodic visits (three weeks, three months, six months and then annually for life) so we can monitor their diet and progress and rule out any problems. If problems do occur or questions arise, they can return between appointments or contact us by phone or email. We use a team approach in treating our patients providing access to exercise specialist, dieticians, and other support resources to benefit our patients.

Dr Champion is a board certified surgeon who is a member of the American Society for Bariatric Surgery and a Clinical Professor of Surgery at Mercer University School of Medicine. He has published numerous articles and textbook chapters on bariatric surgery and is an active participant in ongoing clinical trials in weight loss surgery. He currently chairs the committee to determine medical guidelines for the American Society for Bariatric Surgery "Centers of Excellence in Bariatric Surgery" program. "We were one of the first practices in the United States to begin doing laparoscopic weight loss surgery," says Champion. "Over the past 10 years, as we’ve been doing these types of surgeries, we’ve been constantly adding to our repertoire of resources for patients, coordinating local support groups and making educational materials available. We now have support groups in South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia, with two in the Atlanta area. Our educational materials include videos, a notebook of dietary guidelines along with nine weeks of menus, quarterly newsletters and monthly online question and answer forums."

Morbid obesity is a complex chronic disease that has serious social, economical, psychological and physical consequences. It results in limited activity, a decreased life expectancy and an increased risk for health problems. According to Champion, morbid obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States, with 300,000 deaths yearly. He encourages patients who are overweight to talk to a physician about weight loss treatment options. The National Institutes of Health recommend that morbidly obese patients consider weight loss surgery when they have repeatedly tried diets and failed. More risks are associated with long-term morbid obesity than with weight loss surgery itself.

Also, Champion says, it is important that patients who have weight loss surgery follow-up with their physicians. "We have an open door policy at Videoscopic Institute of Atlanta," he says. "We are not here to create a bunch of skinny people—we are here to create healthy people. We want to help individuals get to their goal weight, and then help them maintain that weight for the rest of their lives."

How Does it Work?
Weight loss surgery reduces the intake of calories by making the stomach smaller and restricting food consumption, or by limiting the absorption of calories by re-routing a portion of the digestive tract. Three laparoscopic surgical options are available at Videoscopic Institute of Atlanta: Laparoscopic vertical banded gastroplasty, laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding and laparoscopic gastric bypass. The laparoscopic procedures are performed through six small ¼ inch incisions and utilize a video camera and special instrumentation. Risks of the surgery and degree of weight loss to be expected vary between procedures so be sure to discuss the options in detail with your surgeon.