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Understanding Weight Loss Surgery

Sponsored by Baptist Memorial Hospital – North Mississippi

Weight loss, for many people, is a touchy subject – especially for those who are fighting being overweight or obese.

For many, weight loss surgery, otherwise known as bariatric surgery, can be an excellent option for people to lose weight and help create a better quality of life for them. The best part is, candidates don’t even have to leave Oxford, Mississippi to have the surgery performed.

Most Common Bariatric Surgery

The most common form of bariatric surgery practiced now is a procedure called sleeve gastrectomy. Sleeve gastrectomy is a procedure that limits the amount of food one can eat by removing 75 to 80 percent of the stomach.

“So instead of this big reservoir there, the stomach is now the size of a banana. More importantly, the part of the stomach that is removed during surgery creates the chemical hormone Ghrelin,” said Dr. Walker Byars, who specializes in bariatric and general surgery at Oxford Surgical and Bariatric clinic in Oxford. Ghrelin is the hormone that prepares the body for food. This is what generates the sense of hunger in the body.

Determining who is a candidate for bariatric surgery

Candidates for this surgery are determined by their BMI, or Body Mass Index. BMI is the height-to-weight ratio of an individual, which determines an individual’s body fat. A BMI of 25 to 29.9 indicates an individual is overweight. A BMI of 30 or higher indicates an individual is obese.

The surgery usually lasts 45 minutes to an hour, and most patients are up and walking by the end of the day after surgery.

The surgery can be performed laparoscopically or robotically. Both types of operations are minimally invasive and help with the short surgery and recovery time. Byars uses the Da Vinci robotic surgical system to perform sleeve gastrectomies, and has performed more than 1,000 surgeries with the system.

“Da Vinci is a huge help to me, because it helps us get the surgery right with the same successful results every procedure,” Byars said.

Life after weight loss surgery

After the surgery, the patients are immediately put on a diet. Most patients, depending on their field of work, are back at work within two weeks after surgery. The next part that comes after the surgery recovery is a year-long program, during which the patients meet with the doctors and staff to make sure they are on track.

This year-long intensive program is what makes Baptist different from other weight loss programs. “It’s different than anything we do, like if you have your gallbladder taken out, you come in and have the surgery, then we see you post-operation and send you on your way. This we go through and see the patients an entire year, sometimes longer, and can see the patients change,” Byars said.

Success rates for the program are above 95 percent, and the average amount of weight loss over the course of one year is 100 pounds.

Patients have to commit to a lifestyle change of eating healthier and exercising for the program to work, meeting with dietitians and staff periodically to make sure they are on the right track. The program also offers support groups, where patients can share their experiences with other patients and learn and help each other.

“The whole goal behind the program and the surgery is not to get the patient to a certain weight, it is to get patients to where they are happier, healthier and live longer,” Byars said.

For more information about the surgery and the weight loss program, contact Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi at 1-800-976-5589 or Dr. Therrien and Dr. Byars at Oxford Surgical and Bariatric Center, 662-234-4744. Patients who are interested can also attend a free bariatric seminar, which is offered once a month at Baptist. Patients will be educated on the surgery and program and hear testimonials from former patients at the seminar. Check the event calendar for the next upcoming seminar on weight loss surgery at https://www.baptistonline.org/events