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Is Weight Loss Surgery Right For You?

Making the decision to have weight loss surgery is not an easy one. If you are thinking about bariatric surgery and are having doubts whether it is right for you, you are not alone. Bariatric surgery is a life-changing procedure and making that decision requires research and a good amount of reflection. It takes resolve to face the challenges and educate yourself about the risks and benefits so that you can make an informed decision.

There are several surgical weight loss procedures available and some are more common than others. The most common bariatric procedure performed today is the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery. It combines both restrictive and malabsorption approaches. Another procedure that is becoming more common is the laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding procedure, otherwise known as Lap-Band. Both of these procedures are available at St. Luke's by Dr. Jay Lenz.

Dr. Lenz is a board certified general surgeon who performs bariatric procedures and hosts monthly community informational seminars on surgical options for weight loss. Dr. Lenz received his medical degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School and completed his general surgery residency through the University of North Dakota Affiliated Hospitals Program.

Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass
Gastric bypass surgery creates a smaller stomach so that you will feel full more quickly. (A feeling of fullness is called satiety.) Increased satiety reduces the amount of food you eat and thus the calories you consume.

The procedure also involves bypassing part of the small intestine which results in fewer calories being absorbed. Combining the two approaches leads to weight loss.

Advantages include:
Quicker weight loss
Considered the "gold standard" of all weight loss surgeries

Disadvantages include:
Higher surgical risk
More problems with absorbing food, especially iron, calcium, and vitamins
Possible dumping syndrome Possible anemia

Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Banding (Lap-Band)

For this procedure, a small band is placed around the upper part of the stomach. This creates a small pouch so that a person will feel full more quickly.

The band is adjusted in size by inflating or deflating the band through a small port under the skin. How frequently the size of the band is adjusted depends on the person's appetite, weight loss and food tolerance.

Advantages include:
Lower surgical risk
Can be reversed
No problem absorbing nutrients
Shorter hospital stay
No dumping syndrome
No anemia

Disadvantages include:
Slower weight loss
Long-term results are not yet known

Getting Started

There are many steps in a weight loss surgery program. This surgery will be a life-changing event and it is important to get all of your questions answered so that you will know what to expect. One of the steps for the beginning of your journey is to attend a weight loss surgery information session.

These monthly 90 minute sessions are held in St. Luke's Lakeview Building, 1001 East Superior Street, Duluth. Space is limited, so you're encouraged to call 218-249-6050 to register. You can also check for Informational Session dates here.

Health Education
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