What Is Bariatric Surgery? And How Does It Help Meet Health Goals?

What Is Bariatric Surgery | Arkansas Heart Hospital

Dr. J.D. Fuller, the newest surgeon on the team at Arkansas Heart Hospital’s Bariatric and Metabolic Institute, answers the question of “what is bariatric surgery” and discusses how bariatric surgery has evolved over the years. In his more than 15 years of experience, Dr. Fuller says the field has become more specialized and dedicated and that bariatric surgery is now safer than ever.

“Bariatric surgery was initially focused on weight loss, and its main benefit was thought to be a surgical cure for morbid obesity,” Dr. Fuller explains. “Most patients lose a significant amount of weight and are able to keep it off. Doctors are happy with the weight loss results in patients with obesity, and especially with the improvement in obesity-related health problems.”  

During the healing process, patients not only lose significant weight but also experience drastic improvements in multiple obesity-related health problems. Diabetes is one problem that benefits greatly from bariatric surgery. About 80 percent of patients will have either a drastic improvement in their diabetes or even a complete cure from their diabetes after undergoing bariatric surgery.

“If you’re taking insulin or other medications to treat diabetes when you come in to the hospital for surgery, more than likely you will be off those medications when you leave,” Dr. Fuller said. “We see other benefits as well; cholesterol gets better, high blood pressure gets better, sleep apnea tends to get better, mobility gets better, energy levels improve, and patients are able to exercise and get back to work and feel like they’re living life again.”

Weight-loss surgery, or bariatric surgery, has proven to be so beneficial over time that it’s now considered Metabolic Surgery since patients are not only losing weight, but also experiencing such drastic improvements in other weight-related health problems. 

“We are making such a difference for patients throughout Arkansas who struggle with morbid obesity. Our state has a significant problem with obesity and there are hundreds of thousands of patients that would benefit from bariatric surgery. I am excited about the level of passion and commitment this hospital and bariatric program has to making an impact for the state,” Dr. Fuller said.

Undergoing bariatric surgery is a big decision and is something patients should take very seriously. Patients have often done their own research, sometimes for years, before they are ready to consider surgery. Fuller continues, “When patients see us in consultation, they’ve often hit their ‘rock bottom’ and they are often desperate for help. It is so exciting to be able to offer patients the surgical cure they need for so many of their health problems.”   

The criteria for bariatric surgery is standardized nationwide. A person needs a body mass index (BMI) of at least 40. BMI is a measurement that takes into account your height and weight. With a BMI of 40, most patients are approximately 100 pounds or more overweight. Patients also qualify if they have a BMI of 35 and at least one weight-related health problem such as diabetes, heart disease or sleep apnea, among others. Patients with a BMI of 35 are usually at least 80 pounds overweight.

The Bariatric and Metabolic Institute is unique because of the comprehensive bariatric care provided to patients. We have a growing team of dedicated providers that help patients every step of the way during their weight loss journey. Patients are equipped with dietary education and exercise strategies to help them achieve an amazing result after surgery. Fuller continues, “Patients are usually very excited and hopeful when they go into surgery and see almost an immediate weight loss, sometimes as much as 15-20 pounds in the first couple of weeks after surgery. With further progress, patients often lose 70-80% of their excess body weight, are feeling much better and are living life again! It’s a great thing to be able to make such a difference for the State of Arkansas!”

If you’d like to learn more about bariatric surgery and whether it’s the right option for you, contact us today.