Millions of people struggle every day with extra pounds that take their toll on self-esteem and physical stamina. While there are no shortage of diets and exercise routines to try, it’s not unusual for those who are extremely overweight to lose hope of ever making it to their healthy goal weight.
Bariatric surgery has been a lifesaver for countless Americans who desperately want to lose weight and regain the quality of life that comes with improved mobility and fewer health complications. Every year, the number of bariatric options increase as new technologies are introduced to this growing sub-specialty.
Dr. Seun Sowemimo, MD, FACS, is a board-certified, fellowship trained bariatric surgeon.At his center, Prime Surgicare in Freehold, he routinely counsels patients about the benefits of losing weight with the help of minimally invasive laparoscopic weight loss surgery, including the gastric sleeve.
This surgery does not alter the anatomy (the way a full gastric bypass does) and usually requires no more than a one night stay in the hospital after surgery. The gastric sleeve works best for people who are considered morbidly obese,meaning they have a BMI (body mass index) of40 (or 35 with a comorbidity such as diabetes)and are ready to live a healthy lifestyle.
“It’s a wonderful procedure that has very good results as long as the patient understands that they must participate in changing their lifestyle,” Dr. Sowemimo said. “To be successful long-term, which is what I think counts, you need to understand that you need to stop eating high calorie foods and really exercise. If you aren’t willing to make the changes, the gastric sleeve won’t work nor will any other bariatric changes.”
Ragui Sadek, MD, FACS, director of bariatric surgery at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, views the gastric sleeve procedure asa metabolic solution for weight loss. He routinely performs this bariatric procedure as well as others to help patients regain their quality of life.
Additionally, he is one of the only bariatric surgeons in the entire United States who performs the gastric sleeve procedure endoscopically (endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty) as opposed to laparoscopically.
Endobariatrics, he said, is very popular in Europe and Latin America. By conducting the gastric sleeve procedure through the mouth endoscopically, Dr. Sadek says downtime and recovery are completely reduced. The entire operation is completed in less than an hour,there are no incisions and there is usually no need for an overnight hospital stay.
“This operation restricts the amount of calories the person can consume, by reducing the size of the stomach and removing the part where the hunger hormone, ghrelin, resides.This reduces food cravings making it easier to stick with a healthy food plan.
“After a gastric sleeve procedure, patients report a natural sense of satiety with small meals,” he said, making it ideal for patients who feel a constant sense of hunger or never feel full.”
Both physicians agree that aftercare is paramount when it comes to success of any bariatric surgery.
At Prime Surgicare, Dr. Sowemimo said bariatric surgery is not a magic bullet; it can be a very a successful weight loss tool. Other tools that are equally as important include regular exercise and emotional support groups. To that end, Dr. Sowemimo invites patients to participate in regularly scheduled support groups, exercise groups with personal trainers and outdoor activities monthly.
“We follow patients for life,” Dr. Sadek said.“We want to see a patient once or twice a year for life. That way, if there is a problem, we can pinpoint it and solve it before weight is regained.”
Prime Surgicare • www.primesurgicare.com Advanced Surgical & Bariatrics of NJ, PA • www.bariatricsurgerynewjersey.com
Dr. Malik is a board certified, fellowship-trained physician with a distinguished career in endocrinology. She is one of only 3 physicians in New Jersey to be additionally board certified in obesity management. This makes her uniquely qualified to both diagnose the cause of obesity, and to treat the condition. She has served as attending physician at prestigious institutions such as the Diabetes Endocrine Care and Resource Center, Rochester General Hospital, Rochester, NY; West Penn Allegheny Health System, and Veterans Administration Medical Center, Buffalo, NY. Dr. Malik is licensed in the state of New Jersey and is as well known for her warmth and compassion as she is for her medical expertise.
Why is it so hard for most of us to lose weight as we age?
Our bodies go through hormonal changes as we age that often lead to unwanted weight gain and make it difficult to shed those extra pounds. For women in their 40’s and 50’s, either pre- or post- menopausal, hormones are out of balance and this can make losing weight especially difficult. For men as they approach middle-age, they may notice weight gain on the middle of the body that they can’t seem to lose no matter what they do. As an endocrinologist, hormones and the changes they cause are my specialty. Of course, increased weight can also be associated with disease such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, insulin resistance and some cancers, which need to be treated, and often may improve through weight loss. Whatever the source of the metabolic changes that cause weight gain, however, weight loss is most effectively achieved with the support of a physician-supervised approach such as our “The TrueU” weight management program.
How does your “The TrueU” weight loss program work?
I am pleased to offer my patients a medically directed and supervised strategy for weight loss that gets proven and sustainable results. It’s a multidisciplinary approach that encompasses behavior modification, nutrition education and counseling, physical activity, ongoing emotional and psychological support, and medical monitoring. One component of the program is the New Direction System® of nutritionally complete meal replacements, designed only for physician-supervised programs like ours. My patients are having very good success with our program, losing 2-5 pounds a week.
What should a patient expect when they first seek your help with weight loss?
I begin by meeting the patient individually to discuss their weight-loss problems and goals, followed up with a full medical exam including blood work, EKG, and other necessary diagnostics. We talk about their behavior and habits, and I do a complete review of their nutritional and diet history. As they embark on our The TrueU program with the New Direction meal replacement system, they receive weekly classes in behavior and nutrition and meet with a nutritionist once a week. I provide close supervision for each patient, and meet with them monthly for medical monitoring.
After a patient loses weight, how do they keep from gaining it back?
When a patient is within 5 to 10 lbs. of their target weight loss goal, they enter the adapting phase, where we slowly re-introduce regular grocery-store foods. They continue to learn and apply new behavior modification techniques to keep their diets in control during this phase. Next, they enter the sustaining phase, in which they are completely back on regular foods.We help them stay on track during this process by continuing weekly classes and physician supervision and support. I stay close with my patients throughout their weight-loss journey and in maintaining their success.
My goal is first and foremost to help patients lose weight and realize long term weight maintenance through lifestyle changes, behavior modification and nutrition education.
180 White Road, Suite 204 • Little Silver, NJ 07739 • (732) 842-4111 • medicalweightlossnj.com