When a person is looking for the most effective way to lose 100 pounds or more, a bariatric surgical procedure may still be their best option. For these patients, there are steps they must take to determine if the procedure is right for them, says Christopher Eagon, MD, Washington University bariatric surgeon.
Dr. Eagon does approximately half of his surgeries at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital and half at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, particularly for those who are higher risk. “Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital is a good choice for lower-risk bariatric patients who prefer a small, more intimate hospital experience,” he says.
The first step for potential patients is to attend a group information session, where Dr. Eagon and staff explain all involved, including expectations before and after surgery, and what it means physically and emotionally. Candidates for bariatric surgery often include the following:
Patients also learn about the three approaches to surgery, which include laparoscopic gastric bypass, adjustable gastric banding and gastric sleeve.
Gastric bypass surgery involves bypassing the majority of the stomach and is the gold-standard operation with the greatest weight loss but slightly higher operative risk.
The adjustable gastric band is an implanted device that restricts the size of the stomach to reduce hunger. It has the lowest operative risk, but results in the least average weight loss.
The gastric sleeve is the most recently added surgical option and involves changing the shape of the stomach from a large sac to a tubular or sleeve-like shape. This option is intermediate in terms of average weight loss achieved and the operative risks of surgery. The sleeve is the most rapidly growing procedure in the United States.
If a patient decides to take the next step, they meet with Dr. Eagon’s nurse practitioner, Jayme Sparkman, who reviews their medical and surgical history, and insurance requirements. These can include guided nutrition counseling and visits with a psychologist and physical therapist. Patients who need a physician-directed weight loss plan can visit Susan Reeds, MD, Washington University obesity specialist.
Dr. Eagon stresses the profound effect bariatric surgery can have. “Patients usually find practical improvements in their health as well as functional ability and they feel socially more comfortable,” he says. “The operation can also influence a person’s eating behavior from a psychological standpoint. Patients lose their sense of hunger after surgery.”
Dr. Eagon says many people do not just eat because they are hungry, but because they may be looking for comfort from stress. Following surgery, a person’s body cannot take food the same way and patients don’t get the pleasure out of eating that they once had. Some patients describe a change from “living to eat” to “eating to live”.
“The operation does not do all the work, you must learn to exercise and eat good foods,” he says. “Although there are some risks in undergoing any surgical procedure, this can save people’s lives.”
Click to register for an upcoming bariatric surgery information session with Dr. Eagon.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Christopher Eagon or another specialist, call 314.542.WEST (9378) or toll-free 844.542.9378 or request a call for an appointment.