Health Care

More than a number: How weight-loss surgery can improve your health and wellness for life

Bariatrics

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Almost everyone struggles with their weight at some point in life. And for people who have a lot of weight to lose or chronic health conditions to manage, weight-loss surgery can make a significant difference in their weight and overall health.

“Bariatric surgery is an incredibly effective approach to weight loss,” says John Paul Gonzalvo, DO, bariatric surgeon at AdventHealth Bariatric and Metabolic Institute, “but it involves a lot of mental and physical preparation and diligent post-op care.”

This past February, Dr. Gonzalvo and several members of the Florida, Puerto Rico and Caribbean chapter of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery went to our state capital for the chapter’s first Obesity Awareness Day to raise awareness of the growing problem of obesity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity is a common, serious and costly disease. It’s also a chronic condition that requires compassionate treatment as it affects more and more Americans, impacts their health, leads to other serious illnesses, and decreases life expectancy. In 2017-2018, obesity prevalence in the United States was at 42.4 percent, and it has risen nearly 12 percent in less than 20 years.

“Bariatric surgery has been shown to relieve many patients’ struggles with diabetes, sleep apnea, hypertension, high cholesterol and infertility,” says Dr. Gonzalvo. “Our specialists and other support team members work together with a comprehensive approach to address each patient’s unique needs and goals leading up to surgery and afterward as they navigate a new lifestyle.”

Insurance coverage for bariatric surgery is a consideration for most patients, and it can be a barrier. Most health insurers still follow guidelines developed by the National Institutes of Health nearly 30 years ago when bariatric surgery was performed as an open procedure. Those guidelines state weight-loss surgery can be considered for patients who have a BMI greater than 40 or, “in certain instances,” in patients with BMIs between 35 and 40 who also have a serious obesity-related condition, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.

Today, bariatric surgery has become one of the safest minimally invasive operations in America, and a significant amount of scientific evidence has been generated that shows its benefits extend far beyond weight loss. “Intervening in obesity earlier in life allows patients to live with fewer restrictions,” says Dr. Gonzalvo, “and helps them avoid developing health problems like diabetes and hypertension.”

AdventHealth is dedicated to helping our patients, and our communities, feel whole. To learn more about AdventHealth Bariatric and Metabolic Institute’s comprehensive bariatric services, visit us at MyBariatricCare.com.

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