Bariatric medicine is the specialty area of treating patients with obesity. The term often conjures up images of surgery, but that’s only a part of what bariatric medicine can offer patients.
Dr. Jan McBarron of Duke and the Doctor, an award winning physician situated in Nevada, experienced her own weight loss journey, as well as helped many patients over her 30-year career in private practice. Here she shares a brief overview of the field and what patients can expect from a bariatric doctor.
What is Bariatric Medicine?
Bariatric medicine is a holistic approach to studying, treating, and preventing obesity. The field includes a combination of diet and exercise programs, surgical options, therapy, and medications to help patients lose weight and keep the weight off.
Doctors choose to specialize in bariatric medicine because it allows them to focus solely on helping patients overcome obesity.
Who is Eligible for Bariatric Care?
Bariatric care, according to Dr. Jan McBarron, encompasses a wide range of procedures to help lose weight and make healthy lifestyle changes. Any candidate that is overweight or obese can benefit from bariatric medicine. Most physicians will rely on non-surgical options first, such as individualized diets, monitored exercise programs, and medications. If the patient fails to lose successfully, then the doctor may recommend bariatric surgery.
Insurance providers typically do not consider candidates for bariatric surgery unless they have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more and are more than 100 pounds overweight. In addition, most patients must have an obesity-related condition, such as Type II Diabetes, Hypertension, Heart Disease, Osteoarthritis or others.
There are several types of Bariatric surgery. Overall it is the process of temporarily or permanently reducing the size of the patient’s stomach to decrease the amount of food that can be consumed. More commonly it is manipulating the stomach which is the size of a football and converting it to tennis ball. If the patient does not make the required changes of diet, lifestyle and behavior modification like what they previously failed, the stomach will expand back to the football and the patient regains all the weight.
What to Expect from Bariatric Surgery According to Dr. Jan McBarron
Dr. Jan McBarron of Duke and the Doctor claims it’s essential to understand that bariatric surgery isn’t a magic fixer for obesity. Patients will need to put in work to ensure their surgery helps them to reach a healthy weight. Undergoing this intensive surgery will require major changes to your diet, along with a lifelong commitment to exercise. In addition, since the weight loss can be at a rapid rate, the skin and supporting tissues can not keep up resulting in a large abdominal sagging “apron” which requires surgical removal.
There’s also a steep recovery time after the surgery. For the first two weeks, patients are on a strict clear liquid diet. Thicker liquids are gradually added, and then soft solid foods.
When regular foods are reintroduced, you’ll have to watch your sugar intake and carefully choose the foods you eat. Many patients are still hungry but are forced to limit portion size to about the size of a jar of baby food. You’ll also need to know what foods to stay away from that may cause cramping, bloating and diarrhea. In addition, patients often report alteration in taste buds.
It’s a lot to take in at once, which is why your doctor won’t rush you into a surgical decision. Take time to think about whether you’re truly ready to make the lifestyle changes that bariatric surgery requires to be successful.
For more health insights and weight loss wisdom, follow Dr. Jan McBarron’s blogs.