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Additional Bariatric Information

What is Clinically Severe Obesity?

The body mass index [weight (kg)/ height (m2)] or BMI is used to determine level of obesity. To be eligible for surgery you must have a BMI over 40, which is typically at least 80-100 lbs. overweight. You may also be eligible if your BMI is over 35 and you have certain medical problems caused by obesity. Your BMI can be calculated on our website BMI Calculator or give us a call. 


Why is Excess Weight a Concern?

People with severe obesity are at increased risk for developing multiple medical problems, as well as, premature death. The following is a partial list of the medical problems associated with obesity:

  • Asthma
  • High cholesterol
  • Depression
  • Infertility
  • Diabetes
  • Joint pain
  • Heart burn
  • Leakage of urine
  • Heart disease
  • Leg ulcers and swelling
  • High blood pressure
  • Obstructive sleep apnea

All of the above medical problems have been shown to improve or resolve after surgery.

What are the Options for Losing Weight?

Diet and Exercise
There are almost as many diet and exercise programs as there are people overweight. Many of these can work for those looking to lose 10 or 15 lbs.  Unfortunately, none of these programs have ever been shown to result in significant sustained weight loss in people with clinically severe obesity. However, diet and exercise are critical to maintaining weight loss after surgery, and to leading a healthier life. The surgery allows you to maintain your diet, and gives you the energy to exercise.

Weight Loss Drugs
There are only two prescription drugs approved by the FDA for weight loss. Neither of these has been shown to produce significant sustained weight loss in the severely obese. The myriad of nonprescription diet pills are even less effective, and some are potentially
dangerous. Because of the epidemic of obesity and the potential for huge profits, there is a great deal of money being spent on drug development. It is possible an effective weight loss medication will become available in the future, but there is currently little on the horizon.

Many operations have been developed to create weight loss. Gastric bypass and lap-band surgery have proven to be effective treatment for severe obesity.

Life After Surgery

Because of the laparoscopic approach, the recovery is quite rapid. Most patients are back at work within 2 weeks. The biggest adjustment is the new diet. Patients have very little appetite and often struggle to get adequate protein in the first several months.

They are required to take multivitamins every day for the rest of their life, to prevent any deficiencies. Exercise is critical to improving health and maintaining the weight loss long term. Fortunately, this becomes easier as the pounds come off and energy levels typically improve.

Our department is know for providing comprehensive care to our patients before and after surgery.


In deciding to have surgery, one must weigh the risks of the procedure against the risk of not losing weight. Several large scientific studies have found people undergoing the surgery are more likely to be alive in 5 years then similar obese people who have not.

A few of the potential complications:

  • Narrowing of the pouch outlet requiring endoscopy (5%)
  • Bowel obstruction from hernias or adhesions (less than 5%)
  • Ulcers and bleeding (less than 3%)
  • Internal infection resulting from leakage of digestive juices (1%)
  • Blood clots - may lead to more serious condition called pulmonary embolism (0.5%)Death, approximately 1 in 200 gastric bypasses and 1 in 2000 gastric bands (This can be higher with inexperienced surgeons working outside of specialized centers.)

Taking the First Step

If you are interested in learning more about weight loss surgery, please call us for the date of our next free information seminar at (805) 898-3472. The weight loss surgery department has an experienced staff to guide you through this life-changing process. We have helped many individuals improve their health and we look forward to meeting you and helping you achieve your goals.


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