Obesity Information

The brief information contained here, should help you to better understand the Gastric Bypass procedure being offered by the surgeon of the Obesity Surgery Center of Louisiana in an effort to correct morbid obesity and it's related health problems. There are several good sources of information about this procedure such as patients whom have undergone the procedure, literature and the Internet. Please take the time to research your decision very carefully and know all of your options. On our site, you will find several helpful links to Internet sites which discuss morbid obesity and the choices of treatment.

What is obesity?

Obesity results from the excessive accumulation of fat that exceeds the body's skeletal and physical standards. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), an increase in 20 percent or more above your ideal body weight is the point at which excess weight becomes a health risk. Today 97 million Americans, more than one-third of the adult population, are overweight or obese. An estimated 5 to 10 million of those are considered morbidly obese.

What causes obesity?

The reasons for obesity are multiple and complex. Despite conventional wisdom, it is not simply a result of overeating. Research has shown that in many cases a significant, underlying cause of morbid obesity is genetic. Studies have demonstrated that once the problem is established, efforts such as dieting and exercise programs alone have a limited ability to provide effective long-term relief.

Science continues to search for answers. But until the disease is better understood, the control of excess weight is something patients must work at for their entire lives. That is why it is very important to understand that all current medical interventions, including weight loss surgery, should not be considered medical cures. Rather they are attempts to reduce the effects of excessive weight and alleviate the serious physical, emotional and social consequences of the disease.

What is morbid obesity?

Obesity becomes morbid when you reach a BMI of 40 or greater or when you are at least 100 pounds over your ideal weight. There is a chart of both BMI (body mass index) and ideal weight included in this handout. When obesity is defined as "morbid", this means that it has the potential to cause several other health conditions that can cause illness and even death. These illnesses are outlined in the next section. If you are morbidly obese and do not suffer from any of these conditions, it is very likely that you will in the future if your weight is not reduced.

Obesity related conditions:

Obesity-related health conditions are health conditions that, whether alone or in combination, can significantly reduce your life expectancy.

  • Type 2 Diabetes. Obese individuals develop a resistance to insulin, which regulates blood sugar levels. Over time, the resulting high blood sugar can cause serious damage to the body.
  • High blood pressure/Heart disease. Excess body weight strains the ability of the heart to function properly. The resulting hypertension (high blood pressure) can result in strokes, as well as inflict significant heart and kidney damage.
  • Osteoarthritis of weight-bearing joints. The additional weight placed on joints, particularly knees and hips, results in rapid wear and tear, along with pain caused by inflammation. Similarly, bones and muscles of the back are constantly strained, resulting in disk problems, pain and decreased mobility.
  • Sleep apnea/Respiratory problems. Fat deposits in the tongue and neck can cause intermittent obstruction of the air passage. Because the obstruction is increased when sleeping on your back, you may find yourself waking frequently to reposition yourself. The resulting loss of sleep often results in daytime drowsiness and headaches.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux/Heartburn. Acid belongs in the stomach and seldom causes any problem when it stays there. When acid escapes into the esophagus through a weak or overloaded valve at the top of the stomach, the result is called gastroesophageal reflux, and "heartburn" and acid indigestion are common symptoms. Approximately 10-15% of patients with even mild sporadic symptoms of heartburn will develop a condition called Barrett's esophagus, which is a pre-malignant change in the lining membrane of the esophagus, a cause of esophageal cancer. You must be evaluated for this condition prior to your bariatric surgery.
  • Depression. Seriously overweight persons face constant challenges to their emotions: repeated failure with dieting, disapproval from family and friends, sneers and remarks from strangers. They often experience discrimination at work, cannot fit comfortably in theatre seats, or ride in a bus or plane.
  • Infertility. The inability or diminished ability to produce offspring.
  • Urinary stress incontinence. A large, heavy abdomen and relaxation of the pelvic muscles, especially associated with the effects of childbirth, may cause the valve on the urinary bladder to be weakened, leading to leakage of urine with coughing, sneezing, or laughing.
  • Menstrual irregularities. Morbidly obese individuals often experience disruptions of the menstrual cycle, including interruption of the menstrual cycle, abnormal menstrual flow and increased pain associated with the menstrual cycle.

When obesity surgery first came about, restrictive procedures such as "stomach stapling" and "stomach banding" were thought to be the most effective way to approach obesity. In recent years, clinical data has strengthened the support of procedures that combine the following two approaches: restrictive (as in restricting the amount of food consumed) and malabsorptive (as in decreasing absorption of the food).

By adding malabsorption, food is delayed in mixing with bile and pancreatic juices that aid in the absorption of nutrients. The result is an early sense of fullness, combined with a sense of satisfaction that reduces the desire to eat. Also, the food that you do eat will not be absorbed by your body in the same way that it was previously. The fat will not be absorbed as well, however neither will the protein and vitamins that your body so desperately needs. This causes sort of a "catch-22" that can only be overcome by following a specific regimen that has been mapped out by your surgeon and staff.

According to the American Society for Bariatric Surgery and the National Institutes of Health, Roux-en-Y gastric bypass is the current gold standard procedure for weight loss surgery. It is one of the most frequently performed weight loss procedures in the United States. We consider Gastric bypass to be the safest, offering the best combination of maximum weight control and minimum nutritional risk. Thus, this is the only procedure the Obesity Surgery Center's surgeons will offer.

This operation achieves its effectiveness by creating a very small pouch (about the size of an egg) from which the rest of the stomach is permanently divided and separated. The larger remainder of the stomach is still left in your abdomen where it will serve an important function - it will still secrete enzymes that will help to break down your food. The small intestine is cut is rearranged so as to provide an outlet to the small stomach, while maintaining the flow of digestive juices from the larger portion of what was the stomach at the same time.