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University of South Florida

A Healthier You with Weight Loss

They are looking to the future with optimism, knowing that their health will get better. It is reassuring for our patients. They are getting their life back.

Many of us don’t realize that when someone is considering weight loss options, they are likely also facing a health crisis.

Those who are morbidly obese have at least one, and many times several, of these serious health conditions: high blood pressure, heart failure, high cholesterol, fatty liver (the number one indicator for a liver transplant), obstructed sleep apnea, and diabetes.

Our younger generation is at risk too.

“There is a rise in the number of adolescents being diagnosed with fatty liver and diabetes,” said Dr. Christopher DuCoin, Director of TGH + USF Health Bariatric Center.

According to the CDC, 1 in 5 school age children and young people (age 6 to 19) in the United States is obese.

Weight Loss Surgery is Safe

Weight-loss surgery can include several procedures, such as gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, adjustable gastric banding, and revisional bariatric surgery. Most of the time, the procedures are performed under general anesthesia and laparoscopically.  Expected weight loss is 43 to 65 percent of the excess weight, depending on which procedure is performed.

But the biggest story, Dr. DuCoin said, is the improved health patients experience post-surgery.

“People with clinically severe obesity have a much higher mortality rate than those of normal weight,” Dr. DuCoin said. “Bariatric surgery significantly decreases the incidence of obesity-related diseases, and it considerably improves the quality of patients’ lives.”

Studies indicate that bariatric surgery can improve various chronic, debilitating health conditions, he said, including diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, congestive heart failure, fatty liver disease, hyperlipidemia, heartburn, asthma, arthritis, and infertility.

“This is an elective surgery, so patients commonly have anxiety associated with surgery, but bariatric surgery improves not only their daily quality of life, but can even lengthen their life span, adding productive years of life,” Dr. Ducoin said. “Weight loss surgery is an extremely safe procedure, it is safer than having your gallbladder removed.  Gallbladder surgery is one of the most common surgeries done today.”

Preparing for Weight Loss Surgery

“It starts with a free information session offered five days a week at the TGH+USF Health Bariatric Center for approximately an hour. We want patients to be informed,” Dr. DuCoin said. “It’s like training for a race. You don’t wake up one day and decide to run a marathon. We help patients prepare well ahead of surgery. We want them to be ready for the race.”

“Patients did not gain weight overnight and cannot lose it overnight either; It takes our team of providers to educate our patients and equip them with strategies, goals, and support for lifelong and sustained weight loss success,” said USF Health bariatric surgeon Dr. Ashley Mooney.  “We ensure weight loss is not too slow or fast and check to make sure nutritional goals are being met.”

To qualify for weight loss surgery, a patient must have a BMI (body mass index) of 35 with a co-morbid condition such as diabetes or hypertension, or a BMI of 40.

Patients receive a workbook, an informative roadmap detailing the steps to lose weight. It covers the different weight loss options provided by the TGH+USF Health Bariatric Center, as well as health assessment and weight management forms.

Patients meet with our dietitian monthly for six months to encourage weight loss.  When a patient comes to the clinic they can meet up to four providers in a single visit. An example might be seeing the Nurse Practitioner, the Dietitian, the Psychologist, and Exercise Physiologist.

“Our team of providers helps patients who are struggling to lose weight. Our multi-disciplinary approach ensures patients are a fit for surgery and contributes to the high level of success our patients experience going through the TGH+USF Health Bariatric Center program,” Dr. Mooney said.

 After Weight Loss Surgery

“This is a lifelong partnership Dr. DuCoin and I are building with our patients. We are invested in immediate and more importantly sustained weight loss success.  We help our patients get their life back,” Dr. Mooney said. “We help patients maintain their medical care with routine follow up after surgery at our Center.”

“The TGH+USF Health Bariatric Center ensures our patients are connected with one another via monthly pre-op and post-op support group sessions,” Dr. Mooney said.  “We have guest speakers offering valuable information on a range of topics.  It is a fun time for the patients to relax, swap recipes and clothes, talk through changing emotions, plan group events, schedule workout sessions, and build a support system outside of the healthcare professionals.”

“Six months after surgery, patients love looking in the mirror,” Dr. DuCoin said. “Their confidence is up. Most of the diseases they were struggling with such as hypertension, sleep apnea, or diabetes are gone. They are feeling great. It is a fantastic time to celebrate their success.”

Call (813) 844-7473 to find out more about attending one of our free information sessions offered five days a week at our Harborside Medical Tower location at 5 Tampa General Circle, Suite 410.

To learn more about the TGH+USF Health Bariatric Center, read our blog, Team Care for Weight Loss.

Written By: Kathleen Rogers

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