It is uncommon for one surgical procedure to address a number of chronic medical conditions. Bariatric surgery, however, does just that.
As expected, bariatric surgery treats obesity — most obese patients who undergo one of these procedures experience prolonged loss of 50 percent or more of their excess body weight. The unexpected result of bariatric surgery is it often also resolves Type 2 diabetes. Almost 80 percent of patients with Type 2 diabetes no longer need blood-sugar medication after bariatric surgery. Sleep apnea and high blood pressure may also resolve or improve.
John Monk, MD, FACS, FASMBS, a bariatric and general surgeon with WellSpan, still regards these facts as good tidings — not because they are recent developments, but because they’re not widely appreciated.
“The most exciting thing coming out now is all the good news about remission from diabetes resulting from bariatric surgery,” he says. “What I do is no longer known only as bariatric surgery — it’s bariatric and metabolic surgery.”
“People don’t realize bariatric surgery also helps treat hypertension, sleep apnea, high cholesterol, heart disease, depression and a number of other chronic illnesses,” adds Jason Marone, MD, a WellSpan bariatric surgeon who practices in Lancaster. “These are all conditions that can benefit from weight-loss surgery.”
A Local Resource
WellSpan is the bariatric provider of choice in South Central Pennsylvania. Patients hear about the bariatric program by word of mouth, from their primary care physicians or from other specialists. For instance, Dr. Monk says, an orthopedic surgeon may request that a patient lose weight before joint replacement surgery.
It is convenient to get started in the program — prospective patients can attend frequent daytime or evening seminars, where they can speak directly with bariatric surgeons. Once a patient decides to have surgery, he or she is accepted into the WellSpan program that has been accredited since 2004 by the American College of Surgeons in conjunction with the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. The patient and his or her surgeon can choose among a wide range of procedures: Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, modified duodenal switch and sleeve gastrectomy. LAP-BAND is rarely used now, Dr. Monk says.
Surgeons at WellSpan Bariatric Surgery recently began performing the stomach intestinal pylorus sparing surgery (SIPS), a modified duodenal switch. This procedure corrects some problems associated with the highly effective duodenal switch procedure, such as the source of the nutritional deficits. In SIPS, the surgeon forms a slightly larger “sleeve” than in a sleeve gastrectomy procedure. An opening created below the pyloric valve diverts food directly into the mid-intestine.
Dr. Marone performs another innovative procedure, the gastric balloon, on an outpatient basis at WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital. This endoscopic procedure involves placing two weighted balloons in the stomach for six months. Dr. Marone says the procedure is gaining in popularity.
Inpatient surgery takes place at WellSpan York Hospital and WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital, and patients can receive direct community support, including follow-up visits with their surgeon, in York, Gettysburg or Ephrata. The weight-loss program at WellSpan includes numerous resources to encourage long-term success, including behavioral counseling, exercise facilities and programs, nutritional advice, and support groups. Behind the scenes, WellSpan’s bariatric surgeons stay in close contact with patients’ referring physicians, providing them with the necessary medical resources to treat their patients effectively.
To refer, patients call 717-851-7575 for the York office and 717-721-8795 for the Lancaster office. To learn more, visit WellSpan.org.