Although bariatric surgery, the medical term for a number of related but different weight loss procedures has a relatively short history, it has been continually refined over the years into a highly effective approach to weight loss that can provide long-term benefits with minimal risk. Kunoor Jain-Spangler, MD, a bariatric surgery specialist, offers some thoughts on the role this surgical procedure can play not only in weight loss, but also in overall health and quality of life.
Dr. Jain-Spangler is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University Medical School where she also did her residency in general surgery. In addition, she completed fellowship training in minimally invasive and bariatric surgery at Duke University Medical Center. Dr. Jain-Spangler is currently in practice at Riverside Surgical Associates and the Riverside Medical & Surgical Weight Loss Center.
In this informative article, Dr. Jain-Spangler shares her knowledge and experience regarding a number of surgical weight loss-related topics:
Just One of Several Tools in the Toolbox
Although bariatric surgery has been shown to be a very effective way for people with obesity to reach and maintain a healthier weight, I make sure that I tell prospective patients – and remind existing patients – that it’s only one of several tools that are needed.
Basically, the surgical procedure is the first step in what really has to become a lifestyle transformation that includes a new approach to exercise, nutrition and overall health. Bariatric surgery has changed a lot of lives for the better, but it takes the other tools to assure that the long-term outcome is successful. The good news is that what works best for weight loss and management also makes sense for better health and quality of life in general.
The Surgeon-Patient Team
On the most basic level, bariatric surgery is designed to help people consume less food and absorb fewer calories. Each type of bariatric surgery is different and the technique used depends on a number of factors, but all of the procedures are based on changing the digestive system’s anatomy as well as its metabolic processes. We perform the most widely practiced types of bariatric surgery at Riverside and generally can utilize minimally invasive procedures resulting in less trauma and faster recovery.
Bariatric surgery is definitely not a one-size-fits-all kind of procedure. When several options are available the decisions are made between patient and surgeon as part of a closely connected team. In that way the surgical technique is tailored to each patient’s specific needs and condition.
It All Begins with Good Information
I find that many people interested in bariatric surgery already have a good idea about what’s involved in the procedures, the recovery and even the lifelong commitment that I mentioned as an essential part of the surgery’s effectiveness. But regardless of the level of knowledge that people bring, we spend a considerable amount of time providing information on everything from an individual’s goals and aspirations to insurance coverage. We help you understand who is a good candidate for the surgery – as well as who might not be and why – and offer extensive information on the types of benefits and specific considerations associated with each procedure.
You can find a considerable amount of helpful information on our website by visiting riversideonline.com/services and clicking on weight loss. In addition we offer a free seminar at the Riverside Medical & Surgical Weight Loss Center, free online seminars and are also pleased to share information about bariatric surgery during one-on-one discussions at our Tappahannock office.
Why Bariatric Surgery Matters to the People Who Receive it
A growing number of Americans are living with obesity and extreme obesity. It affects their quality of life and impacts their health through medical concerns that include type 2 diabetes, heart disease, orthopedic problems, sleep apnea and a higher risk for several types of cancer. For many of these individuals diet, exercise, pharmaceutical interventions and other therapies have failed to improve the condition.
In these instances, bariatric surgery represents a proven and effective approach that can achieve weight loss and help maintain it, while also offering other benefits ranging from improved social interaction and psychological well being to increased employment opportunities and even a higher economic standing.
What is essential to achieving any of these potential benefits, however, and what I can’t over emphasize, is the accompanying need to make a life-long commitment to setting and keeping meaningful exercise goals and making better choices related to diet and lifestyle in general.
Why Bariatric Surgery Matters to Me
I’m pretty sure no medical student ever became a surgeon by accident. It requires a great deal of focus, some special skills and a significant amount of additional education and training – plus a lot of hard work and the dedication to keep improving. I think it also requires a certain type of personality.
Every field of medicine is involved in improving health and wellbeing, but for me there is something particularly satisfying about being able to perform surgery in general and bariatric surgery in particular. The reward for my efforts is to see an improvement not only in someone’s health but in virtually every aspect of their life. I have the very humbling and very fulfilling experience of seeing people literally get a second chance at life.
Some of my patients go on to do things they only imagined before the surgery. They might run a 5K race, come back at some point after that and tell me about participating in a 10K race and then later on let me know they just ran a half-marathon. Everyone’s experience may not be quite that dramatic but when weight loss surgery converges with the behavioral changes that are needed to support it, people find that whole new worlds can open up. It’s exciting to see how people are able to start pushing the limits on a life that used to be bound by morbid obesity.
The Advantages of Care Closer to Home
I was born and grew up in Mechanicsville, Virginia, so I have a good idea about what it’s like to live in smaller, close-knit communities. Although the bariatric surgery itself is performed at Riverside Regional Medical Center I’m able to take care of most of the pre-operative care and post-operative follow up in the Tappahannock area. So after the surgery is completed people can stay closer to home and family and the whole process is a lot more convenient.
Being able to provide a higher level of care on a more local basis is something that Riverside is committed to on a system-wide basis. In the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula that means recruiting top physicians, including specialists, upgrading facilities and staying on the leading edge of technology. It’s an effort that our team at Riverside Medical & Surgical Weight Loss Center strongly supports, and I’m glad to be part of it.
To learn more about bariatric surgery or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jain-Spangler, talk with your primary care doctor or call Riverside Tappahannock Surgical Associates at 804-443-6232.