How to choose a surgical weight loss provider

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Take a poll of 100 women and chances are good that all 100 of them have dieted, exercised or been concerned about their weight at some point in their lives.

There are countless books, plans, diets and experts with advice on how to lose weight. For most people, it comes down to eating less and exercising more.

But what about those people who have tried and failed? People who are at a point where exercise is impossible, and obesity is causing other serious health issues? There are surgical options for people under those circumstances, but all of them have side effects and repercussions.

Lap-band surgery received FDA approval in 2001 and is a non-invasive procedure that can be performed using a small incision and a camera. Patients go home the same day, and the surgery can be performed in a day-surgery center or in a hospital.

Gastric bypass surgery has been around in various forms since the mid-1970s and involves cutting and stapling of the stomach and bowel and rerouting the intestine. There are more risks of complications following gastric bypass than lap-band surgery. Patients who undergo gastric bypass surgery may have more difficulty in absorbing vital nutrients and vitamins, which can increase the risk for anemia, osteoporosis and other medical conditions.

Lap-band surgery poses fewer risks associated with absorbing nutrients and has a significantly reduced mortality rate. It can also be adjusted for lifestyle changes or to affect weight loss results. Adjustments, and even reversals, can be made in a doctor’s office, rather than a hospital operating room. No second surgery is needed to reverse the procedure, should that become necessary.

With any surgery, pre-surgical counseling is vital to make sure the patient is a good candidate for the surgery and to fully understand the procedure and the side effects, complications, precautions and benefits.

Following any surgical weight loss procedure, it’s vital to have access to good follow-up care. Patients should discuss diet, exercise, water and other fluid intake, as well as alcohol consumption and other behavioral issues that will affect results with a medical professional following the surgery. Post surgical visits are important to insure proper healing and healthy results.

Many patients find it helpful to attend support groups with other people who have undergone the procedure. Nutritional and behavioral counseling, as well as increased physical activity and an exercise program, contribute to long-term weight loss success.

You might find it less expensive to have the surgery out of the area. (Mexico is known to have cheaper costs for some surgeries). But the need for pre-surgery counseling and post-surgery follow-up could make it difficult to obtain the necessary care if the patient’s weight loss facility is hundreds of miles from home; especially if there are any medical emergencies or concerns related to the procedure.

Just as there is no magic pill for weight loss, there’s also no magic procedure. Lap-band surgery works for many people, but it’s because they are willing to change their habits, learn to eat less food and do the necessary follow-through to keep the weight off for a lifetime.

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