Bariatric Surgery: Q&A about Weight-Loss Surgery

Wondering if bariatric surgery is right for you? Are you right for bariatric surgery? Wondering what bariatric surgery is? An expert at Mission Weight Management, Garth Davis, answers some questions about weight-loss surgery.

Question: What makes someone a good candidate for bariatric surgery?

Answer: There are criteria for weight-loss surgery that are based on height and weight, but the ideal candidate is far more than a set of numbers. First, weight-loss surgery is just a tool. It works for sure. Obesity has many causes, many of which stem from genetic/hormonal dysfunction. This can result in excess hunger and, therefore, excess calorie intake. Surgery can certainly help limit portion size and hunger, but the key is to utilize the surgery to help change the lifestyle. Going from a double cheeseburger to a single cheeseburger is not the long-term solution to health. So, the ideal candidate is someone who has a body mass index above 35, but they also need to be motivated to make real lifestyle changes with the goal being not just weight loss, but also health. They must understand that this is not cosmetic surgery but rather an intervention to prevent and treat disease. Of course, at Mission Weight Management we will give you the support and education so that you get the most out of your surgery

Q: What are the types of bariatric surgery?

A: There are many different weight-loss surgeries that are performed around the world. Broadly speaking, this can be broken down to surgeries that restrict how much you can eat versus surgeries that alter the way you absorb calories. The two most popular surgeries are sleeve gastrectomy and Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. These surgeries are the most commonly performed because we have studied them for many years and perfected the techniques to minimize the risks while maximizing the benefits.

Q: What can I expect after surgery?

A: There’s a bit of bloating and gassy discomfort after surgery, though most patients say the pain is less than they expected. Nausea is uncommon, but can occur. It will pass, and we have medications that can help. We begin you on a liquid diet and advance your diet in stages over the course of a month. In the beginning, eating can be a little difficult and must be done slowly. Eventually, however, you will lead a very normal life. You will eat normally, but just get full with smaller portions, and won’t be as hungry

Q: What is the recovery like?

A: We do these surgeries laparoscopically, meaning we make very small incisions and use specialized miniature cameras and instruments. This allows us to do these surgeries in a minimally invasive fashion. We keep you in the hospital for one to two nights, and you are back on your feet immediately. We don’t like you to drive for a week or lift heavy objects for 3 weeks, but people go back to work often as soon as a week, or earlier with desk jobs.

Q: What’s your personal motivation to help people lose weight?

A: I have been practicing weight-loss surgery for 17 years, and it has been such a rewarding profession. I have developed such close relationships with my patients. Watching someone go from 500 pounds to doing an Ironman race is beyond rewarding. I feel like I am able to offer people a way out of the disease and struggles that obesity brings. Obesity can feel like a trap, and I love being able to work with people to escape this otherwise gloomy life sentence.

Garth P. Davis, MD, FACS, FASMBS, is the medical director at Mission Weight Management. To learn more about Mission Weight Management or to register for a free information session, visit missionweight.org or call 828-213-4100.