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What we need to know about Weight-Loss Surgery

January 28, 2014  20:26

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's decision to have weight-loss surgery last year highlighted the increasing popularity of such procedures and how they can help individuals who've been unable to shed pounds through diet and exercise. But weight-loss surgery isn't for everyone and is hardly a quick fix for obesity.

To help separate the facts from fiction, Dr. Nick Nicholson, a nationally known bariatric surgeon who has performed more than 10,000 procedures, has written a new book: "Weight Loss Surgery: The Real Skinny." He tells Newsmax Health the biggest misconception about bariatric surgery is that it is a one-and-done remedy for obesity.

Dr. Nicholson explains that diets and exercise programs alone are rarely successful in helping very obese individuals shed pounds and maintain a healthy weight. For many, losing weight initially is not that difficult, but the greatest challenge is making significant and lasting lifestyle changes so they don't regain it over the long run.

The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery says 200,000 Americans have some form of weight-loss surgery each year. Christie underwent what is called gastric band surgery — a 40-minute procedure in which a tube is placed around the stomach to restrict the amount of food one can eat.

Gastric band surgery is common, but is often not as successful as other types of weight-loss surgery, such as gastrectomy and gastric bypass. Gastrectomy involves the surgical removal of about 75 percent of the stomach to limit how much a person can eat.  Dr. Nicholson says choosing the right form of bariatric surgery can be key to a patient's success.

Dr. Nicholson also notes that bariatric surgery has been shown to have other health benefits that go far beyond mere weight loss. A growing body of research has found it can virtually reverse Type 2 diabetes. 

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