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Men and Bariatric Surgery

Posted 3/16/2017 by UHBlog

Bariatric surgery may be the option you need to lose excessive, unhealthy weight. We can help.

Men and Bariatric Surgery

Although women make up 80 percent of the procedures in the U.S., an increasing number of men are opting for bariatric surgery, says bariatric surgeon Leena Khaitan, MD, MPH.

“There is more societal pressure on women than men to have a leaner build and stay thinner, so historically women have been more likely to pursue bariatric surgery,” Dr. Khaitan says. “But more men are beginning to realize that it's not healthy to be overweight. Many men were athletic and played sports in their younger days. As they are aging, they continue to eat like an athlete, but aren't as active. They are realizing that bariatric surgery is something that has worked for other people they know.”

Bariatric surgery refers to a procedure that reduces the amount of food a person can eat, Dr. Khaitan says. It is usually a last resort to weight loss after other methods have failed.

The most popular bariatric procedures include:

  • Gastric band. This device is placed around the top of the stomach to restrict the amount of food that can go into the stomach.
  • Gastric sleeve, which is created by surgically reducing the size of the stomach. Normally, a person’s stomach can blow up to about the size of a football. After surgical reduction, the stomach takes on the size and shape of a banana.
  • Gastric bypass. During this procedure, most of the stomach is tied off, leaving a ping-pong ball-sized pouch intact, while a portion of the small intestine is bypassed to reduce the body’s intake of calories.

According to Dr. Khaitan, weight loss surgery has been performed for about 40 years, and gastric sleeves have been around for almost 15 years. The past decade has seen an increase in bariatric procedures.

“It’s no secret that it’s bad to be overweight,” she says. “It’s bad when you can’t bend over to tie your shoes, you can’t ride the rides at Cedar Point or when you have heartburn all the time. But what’s worse is that being 75 to 100 pounds overweight is likely to lead to major health problems – like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and (it) even increases the risk of cancer. It also puts a lot of stress on knees joints.”

Men and women who have severe obesity and obesity-related health problems such as type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, high blood pressure and/or heart disease are candidates for bariatric surgery.

“Bariatric surgery is not a first line of therapy to lose weight,” she says. “Candidates for weight loss surgery are people who have already tried every diet there is and have tried exercise. Even after the procedure, it takes a lot of hard work. Patients need to make a commitment to a major lifestyle change to keep the weight off.”

Bariatric surgery has gained increasing support in the medical community, she says.

“We have substantial data supporting the benefits of weight loss surgery compared to people staying in their obese state,” Dr. Khaitan says. “Weight loss is a part of the guidelines for several specialties. For example, in orthopedics, if patients are over a certain body mass index (BMI), they are going to be at a higher risk for complications or failure of joint replacements. So they need to lose weight first. Weight loss surgery is also one of the primary treatments recommended by the American Diabetes Association for type 2 diabetes patients with a BMI over 40.”

Your doctor can help you decide whether bariatric weight loss surgery is an appropriate weight loss method for you.

Leena Khaitan, MD, MPH is a bariatric surgeon and director, Bariatric Surgery Program at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center and University Hospitals Geauga Medical Center. You can request an appointment with Dr. Khaitan or any other doctor online.

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