Weight loss counseling key to long-term success

Ray Medina of Ovid has lost 230 pounds since undergoing bariatric surgery last summer. Experts say his weight loss is higher than typical, but only slightly.

“Patients end up losing weight very fast in the first year to year and a half,” said Dr. Jaime Ponce, a bariatric surgeon from Georgia and president of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.“Most end up losing 60 to 70 percent of their excess weight.”

The key to success, Ponce said, is for patients to participate in weight loss management programs through their surgery centers. Many hospitals that offer bariatric surgery — including the Sparrow Hospital Weight Management Center, where Medina had his surgery — require patients to take part in nutritional and psychological counseling before and after surgery.

“A lot of people have this bad notion that surgery is a quick fix,” Ponce said. “Surgery is a big tool that allows patients to have initially the ability to eat less and to be less hungry. Will give them changes on their hormones and metabolic responses to food and they will do much better. But the surgery needs to be used appropriately.”

Once considered a rare last-ditch effort for severely obese people, bypass surgery is now performed 200,000 times per year, according to the ASMBS.

Medina advises people to think carefully about whether surgery is right for them, but not to let fear hold them back.

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