House Call: Bariatric surgery and the health benefits

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Obesity is a disease that, by definition, threatens the well-being of those suffering from it and is currently an epidemic within the United States.

Those suffering from obesity are also often suffering from co-morbid conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obstructive sleep apnea, hyperlipidemia, joint pain and/or osteoarthritis and reflux disease.

Losing weight, especially through bariatric surgery, can help reduce and sometimes resolve health risks and conditions associated with obesity. Recent studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine presented exciting research toward the fight against the obesity and type 2 diabetes epidemics.

The studies compared treating type 2 diabetics through weight-loss surgery (specifically Roux-en-Y gastric bypass) versus conventional medical therapy. Results concluded that surgery proves more effective than conventional medical therapy in producing remission of type 2 diabetes.

Other benefits of bariatric surgery, other than substantial weight loss, include significant reduction in or resolution of cardiovascular disease risks, hypertension, Type II Diabetes, asthma, obstructive sleep apnea, depression, metabolic syndrome and joint pain.

If fully committed to a major lifestyle change, bariatric surgery offers individuals an overall improved quality of life and well-being.

Our community is fortunate to have an exceptional bariatric services program and team within the Cone Health network that is devoted to educating and helping individuals achieve long-term weight loss and overall health improvement.

To learn more about bariatric surgery or to register for the Surgical Options for Weight Loss informational seminar, call (336)832-8000 or visit

Qualifications for Bariatric Surgery:

To be eligible for surgery with Cone Health bariatric surgery program, patients must meet the following criteria:

-          Have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of: (a) at least 40 but no greater than 60 (only the bariatric surgeon can make exceptions), or (b) have a BMI of 35 with co-morbidities

-          Be between the ages of 18 and 65 years of age

-          No severe psychological or medical conditions that would make surgery a high risk

-          Not be drug or alcohol dependent, unless involved in a recognized treatment program with one year of sobriety

-          Have attempted medical weight loss programs

-          Highly motivated to a change in lifestyle

-          Support of family/friends

-          Psychologically stable with realistic expectations

Types of Bariatric Surgery:

Bariatric surgery changes the size of your stomach, the length of your small intestine or both. The goal is to limit the amount of food you can eat or absorb.

Bariatric surgery can be done in a variety of ways:

-          Restrictive procedures work by reducing stomach size. This limits the amount of food you are able to eat, thus causing you to lose weight.

-          Malabsorption procedures work by rearranging a majority of the small intestine. This limits the amount of food you can absorb, which will cause you to lose weight. Although the stomach size is reduced, most of the weight loss is because you absorb less fat and calories in the small intestine.

-          Combined procedures use both restrictive and malabsorption methods.

There are two procedures currently being done at the Cone Health bariatric surgery program at Wesley Long Hospital:

-          Gastric Bypass Roux-en-Y Procedure - a one-ounce capacity upper stomach pouch is created. This primarily restrictive procedure limits the food intake and bypasses the duodenum. You will be required to eat five to six small meals a day. Dumping syndrome can result from eating excessive carbohydrates. Results average about 70 percent loss of excess body weight.

-          Adjustable Gastric Banding (Lap Band) - involves the placement of a silicone elastomer band around the upper part of the stomach to create a small pouch, which can hold only a small amount of food. The lower, larger part of the stomach is below the band. These two parts are connected by a small outlet created by the band. Food will pass through the outlet from the upper stomach pouch to the lower part more slowly, and you will feel full longer.

Expectations/Outcomes from Bariatric Surgery:

It is impossible to predict how much weight a patient will lose after surgery. The average weight loss (for someone who is 100 pounds over the ideal weight) is 40 pounds in the first three months, 65 pounds after six months and 75 pounds after one year.

The goal of Cone Health bariatric surgery program is to help patients lose more than half of their excess weight. This can reduce or prevent serious health problems.

The operation will do a large part of the job for the patient, but they must do their part as well. Patients must be committed to eating differently and being more active. They also must be committed to taking vitamins and supplements.

After surgery, a patient’s body may no longer be able to absorb the nutrients it needs.  The Cone Health bariatric surgery program requires that they take the necessary vitamins and supplements. This also will help with healing, hair loss and tightening excess skin. Prior to surgery, patients will be given a list of vitamins and supplements that will be required to take for life. The Bariatric Nurse Coordinator will assist patients with recommendations of vitamins and supplements. Patients are also asked to take protein supplements. These are important for their overall health and optimum weight loss.

For more information on bariatric surgery, and Cone Health Bariatric Services at Wesley Long Hospital, visit or call (336)832-7272.

Spokesperson Background:

Dr. Eric Wilson is a general surgeon and a member of the Cone Health Medical Staff.  Dr. Wilson is a member of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. He is a 2004 graduate of Medical University of South Carolina and completed his residency in general surgery at the university as well.