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Is Weight Loss Surgery For You? A Local Physician Shares His Thoughts

Photo credit: Shutterstock/esolla

Photo credit: Shutterstock/esolla

Every year, January marks a renewed focus on improving one’s health and wellness. However, for many, it doesn’t necessitate a calendar year to begin tackling resolutions. If you’ve been considering weight loss surgery or struggle with obesity, it might be time to take the plunge. Today, we chatted with Fernando B. Bonanni Jr., MD, Director of the Institute of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery at Abington Hospital-Jefferson Health, to get his take on what patients should know before undergoing weight loss surgery. 

“The first step,” Dr. Bonanni says, “is to recognize obesity as a disease.” The health ailments and comorbidities associated with obesity are many and impede as well as shorten one’s quality of life. Weight loss surgery should be considered a tool to aid weight loss and mitigate some comorbidities. “The difference between a patient who has had surgery and a patient who is obese and has not had surgery is that a bariatric surgery patient has a tool that will help them stay healthy,” he explains.

This is not to say that the surgery itself is a cure-all. In fact, Dr. Bonanni notes, “The treatment is complex, comprehensive and requires a lifelong commitment. Surgery produces short term results.” It’s essential that patients are committed to all aspects of the program in order to ensure success. And in fact, this willingness to commit to a comprehensive program should be a deciding factor for those considering the surgery. “It is up the patient to use their tool, their program, and the education they were given about obesity to maintain long-term success,” says Dr. Bonanni.

Of course, drive isn’t the only qualification needed for weight loss surgery. If you think you might qualify for weight loss surgery. Dr. Bonanni suggests discussing it with your family physician who should be able to help you find a program that provides information sessions. For example, the information sessions at the Abington and Jefferson campuses are very comprehensive. He explains, “They are designed to educate patients and their families about the disease of obesity.” Additionally, if you’re concerned about a loved one, Dr. Bonanni says it’s not uncommon for family members to also attend an information session to learn more about the problem.

If you decide to seek out a physician, he or she will assess several factors including: weight, BMI, diseases, medications, previous surgeries, risk factors, family history and a patient’s personal goals. From there, you and your doctor will work jointly to determine if weight loss surgery is the best tool for you. Dr. Bonanni explains, “At the end of the day, your surgeon should be offering you what they would offer their own family member.”

Still have questions about weight loss and bariatric surgery? You’re in luck! Jefferson Health will be conducting a web chat with a bariatric surgeon. Submit your questions here by January 17th.