Know Your Options, Improve Your Health
More than 580,000 Americans have lost their lives during the pandemic.
As unthinkable as that number is, consider this: Over 106 million American adults are more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19 due to a common condition: obesity.
Being severely ill from COVID-19 can increase the risk of hospitalization, intensive care, ventilator use and even death.
If you have obesity, you deserve to know your options, so you can take the right steps to improve your health and longevity.
The good news: There’s a way to lower your risk of severe COVID-19. You can also reduce or eliminate many other serious health conditions related to excess weight, such as heart disease and strokes, Type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.
For many patients, lasting weight loss isn’t as simple as exercising and eating better.
For the best results, I recommend combining healthy lifestyle changes with weight-loss surgery.
Successful weight loss surgery is associated with a significantly lower risk of hospital and intensive care unit admission for formerly morbidly obese patients who have COVID-19. It can also help reduce a patient’s risk of potentially life-threatening, weight-related health problems, such as heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea.
In fact, there are weight-loss procedures, such as laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding, or Lap-Band, that can be safely performed at an ambulatory (non-hospital) surgery center or outpatient hospital setting.
(Unlike more involved types of weight-loss surgery that at times had been postponed due to COVID-19, Lap-Band surgery is readily available.)
The Lap-Band: Lasting Weight Loss Without Invasive Surgery
During Lap-Band surgery — a minimally invasive, reversible procedure — an adjustable band is placed around the upper stomach. The band acts as a resistor, forcing the patient to chew thoroughly and eat slowly, allowing the natural satiety mechanisms of the stomach and brain to work more effectively. It is adjusted to each individual patient as needed to obtain the optimum resistance for optimum weight loss.
Unlike other types of bariatric surgery, the Lap-Band procedure doesn’t require any permanent changes to your body, such as partial stomach removal or rerouting of organs. In fact, it’s the safest, least invasive weight-loss surgery available, with the lowest mortality rate and lowest rate of early postoperative complications and shortest recovery time.
The Lap-Band is also the only FDAapproved laparoscopic weight-loss device commercially available in the U.S. The procedure has been performed more than one million times worldwide since 1993 and is backed by over 25 years of clinical evidence.
And Lap-Band surgery produces significant, lasting results. Patients with a lower BMI lose an average of 65% of their excess weight in the first year and 70% in the second year. Long-term, they kept off 60% of their excess body weight after five years.
If you have morbid obesity and can’t lose weight through diet or exercise alone — or if you have obesity-related conditions— the Lap-Band may be right for you.
Lasting Weight Loss: Healthy Lifestyle Choices After Surgery
As with any weight loss surgery, success with the Lap-Band requires regular follow-up and aftercare with a board-certified bariatric surgeon, dietitian and support team.
• Adopt a healthier diet. Follow the guidelines of Lap-Band support specialists.
• Increase exercise. Inactivity can be a major factor in weight gain and obesity. Exercise needs to be geared to your age and abilities and must be sustainable and enjoyable. A regular exercise program can not only help you keep weight off, but it can also improve sleep and mental health as well. Consult with your bariatric team for the best exercise for you.
• Practice healthy eating habits. Identify patterns or triggers that may be preventing you from losing weight and replace them with healthier habits. Instead of eating in front of the television, for example, try eating mindfully — slowly and without distraction.
• Get enough sleep. Adults (and children) who don’t get enough sleep have a higher risk of obesity. In general, aim for seven or more hours of sleep every night. Practice good sleep habits, such as removing electronic devices from the bedroom and avoiding large meals, caffeine and alcohol before bedtime.
• Reduce stress. Stress has been linked to weight gain. Instead of reaching for a snack when you’re stressed, reach out to a friend (or counselor) for support or try meditation or yoga.
It can be shocking to learn how many serious health conditions are tied to obesity. COVID-19 is only the latest.
The good news is that many diseases can be prevented or improved with sustained weight loss. And there’s no better time than now to take control of your life and health.
George R. Merriman II, MD, FACS, FASMBS, advanced robotic and laparoscopic general and bariatric surgeon, Freedom from Surgical Specialists, Shreveport, La. For more information, go to obesityaction.org; LapBand.com; ASMBS.org; or FreedomFromObesity.com.