Sunday, June 27, 2010

New Research Finds Fat Surgery A Family Success

I have battled obesity most of my adult life and in the past year considered gastric bypass surgery or at least a lap band procedure.

I mention it only because a story Saturday is circulating about a New Jersey researcher who concluded two family members having the surgery are more successful in weight loss and improved health yardsticks than those who try it alone.

That makes sense even though it rules me out since I'm single.

Dr. Gus Slotman, a clinical professor of surgery at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey — Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, said the best results were competitive siblings who lost 86% of excess weight compared to 60% of patients doing it solo.

Slotman announced findings of his three-year clinical research at the annual meeting of the American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery Friday. 

He compared 91 patients undergoing surgery with a family member to a group of bypass surgery patients matched in age, gender and body mass index (BMI), who went through it alone. 

“Families have a built in support system that can turn a good result into a great result, particularly during the first year after surgery when people are having to dramatically change what they eat and adjust to a new lifestyle,” says Slotman...
The benefits went way beyond the weight loss. A year after surgery, diabetes had resolved in 65% of those who had surgery with a family member, as compared to 31% of those who had surgery alone. High blood pressure went down to normal in 60% of those who had surgery with a family member, as compared to 33% of those who had surgery alone.

I have been intrigued with the successes of gastric surgery since watching a "60 Minutes" segment last year and recommendations from my health insurance broker.

My insurer, Health Net, is not so ecstatic even though it could save them a bunch of money.

My primary physician isn't exactly floored with the idea either as she outlined the game plan. 

First, I must have supervised weight-loss diet and weigh-ins for six months. Just finished that cycle. After losing 21 pounds on Nutri-System I hit a wall and lost only one in the past two months.

Second, I would be referred to a gastric surgeon to determine if the operation was mandatory to the degree of being a life-or-death decision. 

Only with both primary and surgeon signing off would I undergo surgery covered by insurance of which I would pay the 15% balance due. Not knowing the cost, I doubt I could afford it.

Even though my weight loss has improved my diabetes now requiring less dosages of insulin and my blood pressure and cholesterol levels normal, my age is a factor which may limit me to the least invasive lap band procedure. Two years ago my cardiologist refused open heart surgery to remove the pericardium, the protective sac around my heart, because he didn't believe I could survive the trauma.

What I don't understand from the research I is how anyone could not benefit, especially from the more invasive bariatric surgery.

In layman's terms, it shrinks the stomach where it tells you in pain it can't take any more rather than a chemical signal sent to your brain with the same message. My brain has the uncanny knack of telling me to hell with it and eat on.

NutriSystem has helped me eat less and more nutritionally. Cheeseburgers with fries and three-egg breakfasts with sausage and hash browns and dinners with a pound or more of red meat topped with a pint of ice cream for dessert are ancient history in my household. Don't miss them and the thought makes me want to vomit.

It all starts and ends in the head. Because of the 22 pounds lost since the first week of February and despite a mountain to go, I for the first time in nearly 50 years like my body.

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