Am I the Right Candidate for Surgical Weight Loss?
Lifestyle changes work for everyone, but sometimes they aren't enough.
People who are 75 or 100 pounds overweight are different biologically than those who are 25 or 30 pounds overweight,” says Dr. Aileen Takahashi, medical director of the Torrance Memorial bariatric surgery program. In very heavy people, the “hunger hormones go off-kilter,” she explains.
In these cases—especially when there are other health problems—the benefits of bariatric surgery are indisputable. Some patients see up to 32 percent reduction from their starting weight and those with diabetes experience a “cure” rate of 85 percent. Patients may also see improvement in blood pressure, sleep apnea, high cholesterol and heart disease.
Bariatric surgery helps control the hunger drive and changes the metabolism, so hunger hormones start to normalize. But even in surgical weight loss, the rules of wellness before weight loss apply.
“Surgery is a tool we use to help keep patients on track,” Takahashi says. To reap the benefits of bariatric surgery, patients need to commit to long-term behavioral changes. After surgery, they work with a support team of dietitians, psychologists, physical therapists, pharmacists and other specialists to ensure healthy outcomes.
There are three types of weight loss surgeries:
- Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB), also known as Lap-Band, is a minimally-invasive outpatient procedure placing a silicon band around the upper stomach. The band, which can be gradually tightened by adding saline, limits the amount of food you can comfortably eat.
- Gastric bypass surgery permanently reduces the size of the stomach and reconfigures the digestive system, bypassing most of the stomach and the small intestine where food is absorbed.
- In Gastric Sleeve Surgery, a large part of the stomach is removed. Greatly reduced in size, the tube-shaped stomach can only hold small amounts of food, leaving you with a full feeling after consuming far less.
Torrance Memorial’s bariatric program performs hundreds of surgeries a year. It has comprehensive center accreditation through the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, meaning it underwent rigorous, outside peer evaluation and meets nationally-recognized benchmarks. In January 2021, the program received Blue Distinction Plus designation—one of only five bariatric centers in the Los Angeles area to meet Blue Shield of California’s highest standard of excellence.