Weight loss is a challenge many individuals struggle to overcome. Some individuals simply are not able to implement the right amount of exercise and healthy eating to shed unnecessary pounds.
In those cases, weight loss surgery may be an option.
Dr. Michael Bilof, a general surgeon specializing in bariatric surgery and founder of Garden State Bariatrics and Wellness, describes approaching this decision from both a medical perspective and a goal-orientated one. “From a purely medical perspective, we look at body mass index, or BMI,” he notes. “Whether or not it’s truly right for you depends on what your goals are and how comfortable you are choosing this surgery.”
Individuals with a BMI over 40 are candidates for bariatric surgery. Between 35 and 40, eligibility depends on one’s particular medical situation and if certain comorbidities exist. If BMI is less than 35, one would not be a candidate for surgical intervention.
An Individualized Approach, Every Time
The surgeons at Garden State Bariatrics and Wellness forgo a “one size fits all” approach and instead tailor treatment to the individual patient. “The beginning of our specialized approach occurs when the patient comes in for the initial evaluation,” explains Dr. Bilof. “It’s a fairly lengthy and extensive consultation. Ultimately, the doctors, the medical staff and the patient should all be comfortable moving forward if surgery is indeed the proper thing to do.”
Improving & Reversing Severe Medical Conditions
Prior to specializing in bariatrics, Dr. Bilof was a vascular surgeon—where he witnessed just how badly diabetes damages the body.
“What’s fascinating, and what really got me into the field of bariatrics, is the fact that it’s quite effective at improving diabetes—and in some patients eliminating diabetes completely,” reveals Dr. Bilof. “It’s really an amazing thing to see a patient come in, one who is taking insulin and various medications, and six months later they’re off all their medicines and have normal blood sugar levels.”
In addition to diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, back pain, and fatty liver are all conditions which can be dramatically improved, if not completely resolved, after bariatric surgery.
Dr. Bilof is a firm believer in the overall improvement bariatric surgery can spark in quality of life. He’s seen patients delight in being able to play with their kids or grandkids, or not having to ask for a seatbelt extender on an airplane. “These are little things you wouldn’t even think of if you weren’t morbidly obese, but they are big issues for our patients,” he informs. “When they get better, it really has a dramatic effect on a patient’s quality of life.”
Safety Concerns & Recovery Time
No one welcomes “going under the knife,” and many potential patients may express fears about undergoing this kind of procedure. Dr. Bilof puts individuals at ease by explaining the proven safety of bariatric surgery. “I tell them bariatric surgery is about as risky as having their gallbladder taken out. It’s certainly safer than having hip replacement surgery or heart surgery, other procedures that are done on a routine basis.”
Time spent in the hospital post-procedure depends on the type of procedure and the individual patient’s medical condition, but in general, most surgeries only involve a one- or two-night stay. Full recovery—meaning a return to one’s normal activities—can take anywhere from one to three weeks.
Full Spectrum of Support
Support after surgery is a key element for success. Garden State offers nutritionists and psychologists, as well as support groups where patients can talk to other patients and share best practices. The center offers help regarding insurance, which can be a tricky obstacle to overcome given restrictions set forth by insurance companies.
“We really have all the bases covered in terms of what a patient would need both before and after the surgery,” states Dr. Bilof.
Patients are also held to their own responsibility of using surgery as a tool, not a magic bullet. Dr. Bilof warns that there needs to be an attitude of discipline and adhering to newly formed diet and exercise regimens. “The surgery will get the weight off, but keeping it off is up to the patient.”
While this option will not be successful for every patient, Dr. Bilof affirms it is the most effective intervention for the 40-plus BMI population.
**To listen to an interview with Dr. Michael Bilof, general surgeon specializing in bariatric surgery and founder of Garden State Bariatrics and Wellness, follow this link: https://radiomd.com/gardenstate/item/36951
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