Decision Time

After attending a seminar on surgical options for weight loss at Summa last September, I did some research of my own. Everything I learned confirmed the cold hard truth of what I learned at the seminar: While it’s certainly possible to lose significant amounts of weight by dieting and exercise, the statistics for someone like me (a 6-foot-1-inch tall, 55-year-old male, weighing nearly 400 pounds) were quite grim.

For me, the most shocking part of the data was the low success rate – in terms of keeping the weight off for five years – of those who lost weight the “old fashioned” way.

Most folks who have struggled with weight problems know that losing weight is not the biggest challenge – it’s keeping it off.  I’ve lost hundreds of pounds over the last few decades, but I always managed to find them again!

There are three main types of bariatric surgery. Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy is a minimally invasive procedure that involves removing a large portion of the stomach and re-shaping the remaining part. Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Banding (commonly known as Lap-Band) is an adjustable option that does not require a complete stomach bypass. Laparoscopic Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass is the most successful and most frequently performed weight loss procedure to manage obesity, according to Summa. It’s also the most radical approach, as it involves creating a small stomach ‘pouch’ that is completely divided from the remainder of the stomach.

The Lap Band approach is appealing because it doesn’t involve rerouting your entire digestive system. But for people with a high body mass index, or BMI (mine was 52.1), the gastric bypass is considered the best option. My BMI put me in the “morbid obesity” range, a term that doesn’t really have a nice ring to it.

I already had high blood pressure and severe sleep apnea, and was at severe risk for Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and more. At 55 years old, I realized I didn’t have a whole lot of time to get it right.

So I called the Human Resources department at Kent State to see if my insurance covered bariatric surgery, and I learned it indeed was covered. To my surprise, the person who took my call actually had the surgery years ago. She told me it was the hardest thing she’s ever done, but also the best thing she’s done.

Little did I know how right she was.