The Bariatric Weight Loss Journey: More Than Just Surgery
White Plains Hospital
August 25, 2020
The support you receive from loved ones as well as a dedicated health care team afterward is the secret to long-term weight loss success.
People who undergo bariatric surgery for weight loss often see dramatic results. The average patient typically loses 60 to 80% of their excess weight, translating to hundreds of pounds in some cases, helping to transform how they look.
Dr. Philip Weber, Director of the Division of Minimally Invasive Surgery, Robotics and Bariatrics at White Plains Hospital, knows this first-hand. He has been helping thousands of Westchester, New York, residents accomplish what they were never able to do on their own through bariatric surgery: a procedure of the digestive system that helps to control food intake and calorie absorption.
The aesthetic results are just one of many benefits. Studies have shown that bariatric surgery can greatly improve or even cure type 2 diabetes by helping patients to get their blood levels under control. Obese patients who get the surgery can cut their risk of developing coronary artery disease by 40 percent, according to one study, as well as see a decrease in rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
One of the most dramatic changes is how patients feel about themselves. Patients who return to Dr. Weber’s White Plains office for follow-up appointments can suddenly sit and cross their legs. They can bend over and tie their shoes for the first time in years. They show up wearing jeans -- and one former patient was so excited during a visit that he announced he was wearing a belt!
“Most of my patients have struggled with weight all their lives, and they become so excited when they realize they can once again do the simplest things,” Dr. Weber says. “Following my patients for months and even years post-surgery as part of our comprehensive, individualized program allows me to really see that impact. Not only does it improve overall health and lifetime well-being, but it can make such a difference in other smaller but powerful ways every day.”
More than just weight loss surgery
The Bariatric Surgery Program at White Plains Hospital, which began in 1999, is not simply about surgery. That’s because losing weight is way more complicated than just “stop eating” and “exercise more.” The problem is as much emotional and psychological as it is physical, which is why the bariatric journey includes meeting with nutritionists, psychologists, and physical therapists – both before surgery and afterward as patients continue to work on weight management throughout their entire lives.
Still, pursuing bariatric surgery is a big step for many people, and it’s normal for patients to be unsure about it even as they make an appointment for a consultation. “It’s a two-way street because they won’t get there if they don’t have the discipline and the commitment to do it,” notes Dr. Weber, a board-certified surgeon. “That’s what we hope to determine through our personal consultations and meetings with them. If they are not ready, it’s not going to happen.”
Dr. Weber likes to think of bariatric surgery as a last resort, when patients have tried unsuccessfully to lose weight through traditional dieting and exercise. In fact, it’s those people who are the perfect candidates for the program. “Someone who has succeeded on diets in the past and gained the weight back,” he adds. “This gives us a baseline to say that at least they were disciplined, which will be equally important after surgery.”
There are a number of different bariatric procedures performed today, but not all achieve the same results. Clinical studies show that two procedures (both currently offered at White Plains Hospital, all with the strictest safety and disinfectant protocols in place) have excellent track records for weight loss. The most common is sleeve gastrectomy. In this procedure, a surgeon removes 80% of the stomach, shaping what remains into a tubular pouch resembling a banana. Patients go home about 24 hours after the surgery and are back to work and normal activity within a week. Patients can expect to lose more than 50% of their excess weight, on average, according to the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS).
Gastric bypass surgery, considered the gold standard, is slightly more involved, but achieves significant weight loss: 60-80% percent of excess weight, says the ASMBS. A surgeon also creates a smaller stomach in this procedure, but in addition, they reconfigure the small intestine to alter path that food takes through the body during digestion. This procedure requires a short hospital stay, but most patients are back to work in a few weeks.
In both cases, the smaller stomach holds less food, and allows for fewer calories to be absorbed. It also causes favorable changes to gut hormones that suppress hunger, improve feelings of fullness, as well as control blood sugar.
The journey begins
Regardless of which procedure is performed, all patients are heavily monitored post-surgery. They return to the office within a week, and then again three weeks later. Patients continue to have follow-ups every few months to make sure they are making the lifestyle adjustments necessary, as well as general exams and blood tests to ensure they are getting enough vitamins and nutrients. Patients are also encouraged to attend free support groups offered through the program.
“We jokingly tell our patients they’re stuck with us for the rest of their lives or the rest of ours, whichever comes first,” says Sandi Gallo, the program’s Bariatric Coordinator, a White Plains Hospital nurse for 27 years. “Our goal is to encourage them to come back and see us regularly. We want them to know that we are here for them for as long they need us.”
“We really encourage staying in close contact with us, so that we can continue to support them, and navigate any issues that may come up, especially in that first year,” notes Dr. Weber. “We’re not just performing a surgery, we’re creating a partnership that’s designed to help them succeed. We want that as much as they do.”
White Plains Hospital’s bariatric surgical center is a Center of Excellence by the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS). It is accredited as a Comprehensive Center under the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP), a joint program of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS).
More information related to the Bariatric Surgery Program at White Plains Hospital can be found here:
For general info and to see before and after photos, visit our Bariatric Surgery Program page.
Find out about seminars, ask questions, or to arrange a private consultation with Dr. Weber via our Bariatric Surgery Seminars page.
Get more details about how we are keeping our patients safe and protected at our Safety Initiatives page.
Dr. Philip Weber is the Director of the Division of Minimally Invasive Surgery, Robotics and Bariatrics at White Plains Hospital. He sees patients in White Plains. To make an appointment, please call 914-948-1000.
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