For people who struggle with obesity, surgery can be an effective way to lose a significant amount of weight. But like any major life change, it doesn’t happen overnight. That is why the Park Nicollet Bariatric Surgery & Weight Center at Methodist Hospital has changed our approach for treating the disease of obesity.
The old way of doing things was much more patient-driven. If a patient called and requested to have bariatric surgery, we scheduled it. There was little discussion as to if it was really the best option out there for that particular patient. Now, though, it’s a shared decision-making process. We meet with the patient, and help them come up with the best course of action for long-term care and weight management. Then we put that plan into action.
To help with this, I oversee a team of four bariatricians. All of them have a primary care background. (And two are currently obesity medicine board certified.) They know the medical side of obesity and bariatric surgery. They also understand the misconceptions around the surgery and the weight loss it can lead to, like:
Misconception #1: It’s a quick fix.
People often struggle for years with obesity. They try different options before turning to professional help.
Once someone does come to us, we have them meet with a team to work on an individualized plan for weight loss. That team includes nurses, dietitians, a physical therapist, a psychologist and sometimes a surgeon. Bariatric surgery is one of several tools that can be used. It is only sometimes chosen – not always.
A patient can successfully lose a great deal of weight in a short amount of time if surgery is chosen. But their journey isn’t over. Rather, they have just started a lifelong commitment. In the first year following surgery, the patient comes back for a lot of visits. This is so the care team can track their progress and weight maintenance. After that, we provide ongoing support groups, education and follow-up visits. All of these things help the patient achieve better long-term success.
Misconception #2: Once you’re done, you’re done forever.
In some cases, patients who do not continue to see an expert will gain the weight back.
The surgery is a way to jump-start weight management. But the reality is you still need to maintain your weight loss. That means making internal changes. And it means focusing on diet, exercise and the all of the things that people do to maintain their weight whether they’ve had surgery or not.
Methodist Hospital leads the way with this comprehensive weight management approach and now more hospitals are making the move to it, too. We have had a big increase in people contacting us about our program. People are interested in understanding the process. They want to know how they can manage their weight. They’re not just asking about surgery anymore, and this shift is a huge success in my eyes.
To learn more, contact the Park Nicollet Bariatric Surgery & Weight Center at 952-993-3180.