Are You a Candidate for Metabolic Surgery?

Bariatric surgery may be reclassified as metabolic surgery

When it comes to weight loss and surgical intervention, most of us think of bariatric surgery. However, health experts tell us that the focus is now changing to one they refer to as “metabolic surgery” where more than just looking slimmer is the goal. Here’s what you need to know to determine if you are a candidate for metabolic surgery.

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According to a recent Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Heart Letter, nearly one in three American adults are medically classified as obese.

As it turns out obesity is divided into three categories:

Class 1 Obesity―a BMI of 30.0 to 34.9

Class 2 Obesity―a BMI of 35.0 to 39.0

Class 3 Obesity―a BMI of 40.0 and above referred to as “Extreme obesity”

Here's why some scientists say, "Your BMI is a Deeply Flawed Measure of Health."

Even more alarming than the 1/3 of all Americans being classified as obese, about one in 10 women and one in 20 men are considered extremely obese—a medical condition that carries with it a high risk of cardiovascular disease and a shortened lifespan.

Today, the standard for recommending bariatric surgery is when the patient has failed to lose weight through non-surgical means and falls within the Class 3 obesity ranking. Bariatric surgery is also recommended for Class 2 obesity patients who not only are seriously overweight, but also have an obesity-related health problem, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or sleep apnea.

The good news is that there is hope for Class 2 and Class 3 obesity patients via bariatric surgery that has proven to be effective for weight loss. However, not only can bariatric surgery lead to significant weight loss, but it also solves other health problems such as high cholesterol, hypertension and sleep apnea that are major components of heart disease.

It is because of these added benefits that improve a patient’s cardiac health, that health experts are promoting that bariatric surgery should change its focus from one of weight loss, to one where the focus is on the bigger picture of improving a person’s metabolic health in which the use of the term "metabolic surgery" (rather than weight-loss or bariatric surgery) may be a more accurate reflection of why surgery is recommended.

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"Many experts now feel that the focus of these surgeries should change from weight loss to improving health," says Dr. Ali Tavakkoli, co-director of the Center for Weight Management and Metabolic Surgery at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Diabetes Societies' Recommendations Regarding Weight Loss Surgery

In fact, the Harvard newsletter tells us that a recent consensus statement from five international diabetes societies states that:

1. Surgery should become a more routine treatment option for type 2 diabetes.

2. The surgery threshold should be lowered from a BMI of 35 down to 30.

3. And because Asians develop diabetes at lower BMIs than non-Asians, their BMI threshold should be lowered even further to 27.5.

While most of the typical weight loss surgical procedures are effective—such as gastric bypass, gastric banding and gastric sleeve—the gastric sleeve method appears to be the most popular and recommended. Health experts tell us that bariatric surgery is no more risky than hip replacement, has an average cost of $20,000 to $25,000, requires one to two days in the hospital, and requires a major lifestyle change on the part of the patient to ensure success.

"We think of surgery not as a cure for obesity but as a tool that allows people to implement the healthy eating and life-style habits that ensure sustained weight loss," says Dr. Tavakkoli.

So, if you find yourself not exactly morbidly obese, but within the 3 aforementioned international diabetes societies’ recommendations, you may want to consider having weigh loss surgery through a center certified by the American College of Surgeons that specializes in bariatric procedures, where trained and experienced professionals can evaluate if you are truly a good candidate for metabolic surgery.

Reference: Harvard Heart Letter“Weight-loss surgery: Moving into new dimensions?”

Image courtesy of Pixabay

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