Bariatric Surgery: It’s Not Just about Weight Loss

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital January 24, 2013

Evidence suggests that bariatric surgery can be an effective treatment for a variety of metabolic conditions, including type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

Although bariatric surgery has proven to be an effective and lasting treatment for morbid obesity, mounting evidence suggests that the benefits go far beyond weight loss. Our patients Chuck and Theresa, both featured in our blog earlier this week, are just two examples of how bariatric surgery can improve your health in ways that aren’t experienced through other weight loss approaches.

According to Dr. Scott Shikora, Director, Center for Metabolic Health and Bariatric Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the ultimate goals of weight loss surgery should be the health benefits, not just the weight loss. He explains that most of us are aware that bariatric surgery can lead to dramatic weight loss and a corresponding increase in self-esteem, but many of us don’t realize how many metabolic diseases and conditions can be effectively treated through weight loss surgery.

Read More »

The Unexpected Benefits of Bariatric Surgery

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital January 23, 2013

Bariatric surgery has led to several significant health benefits for Chuck Uglietta.

After undergoing bariatric surgery on February 28, 2012, Chuck Uglietta, 34, of Peabody, MA, not only lost a lot of weight, but he also trimmed quite a bit off his golf handicap – from a respectable 12-14 to an impressive 2-4. But, of course, that wasn’t the reason why he opted for the surgery. It was just another pleasant surprise.

Chuck was a pretty happy guy on the morning of September 27, 2008. Besides being a popular assistant coach for the Saugus High School boys and girls golf teams and a disc jockey in a thriving wedding business, Chuck was about to get married to his longtime sweetheart, Jennifer.

But, despite that happiness, it was hard for Chuck to ignore that he wasn’t healthy that day and hadn’t been for a long time. He weighed 537 pounds and had high blood pressure, diabetes, and obstructive sleep apnea.

“I still have the vest that I wore on my wedding day. It was a 6X,” says Chuck. “My tuxedo pants were a 72. My jacket was a 78. My wife loved me for who I was, but I just couldn’t live that way anymore.”

After struggling with his weight throughout his life and pondering weight-loss surgery for several years, Chuck finally reached out to Scott Shikora, MD, FACS, Director of the Center for Metabolic Health and Bariatric Surgery, for help at the end of 2011. Several months later, Chuck underwent a laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, a minimally invasive procedure that reduces the stomach’s volume by about 60-80 percent. Now, less than one year after the surgery, Chuck is summoning folks onto the dance floor and swinging the golf club at 261 pounds, less than half of his peak weight – and he isn’t done yet.

Read More »

Bariatric Surgery: A Way to Beat Your Genes

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital January 22, 2013

Theresa poses with her support staff, Shaun and Shaun, Jr., at a family wedding after her surgery.

Overeating, poor nutrition, and a sedentary lifestyle are three of the biggest culprits for our nation’s obesity crisis. All these factors are largely controllable, but, left unchecked, they become more and more difficult to overcome over time. Sometimes, however, life presents individuals with circumstances that promote obesity and are simply beyond their control. That was the case with Theresa Carr, 32, of Tewksbury, MA.

Theresa admits that her own actions contributed to her being overweight, but her situation became worse after she developed polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition that causes an imbalance in a woman’s hormones. This imbalance, in turn, can cause irregular periods, infertility, depression, weight gain, and difficulty in losing weight.

Dr. Scott Shikora, Director, Center for Metabolic Health and Bariatric Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, suggests that Theresa’s experience is a good example for those who believe that bariatric surgery is a shortcut for patients who should simply exercise more or work harder to eat less. “What they’re failing to realize is that while bad eating habits certainly do play into this, it’s often genetics,” explains Shikora. “And people can’t beat their genes.”

Read More »

The Heat is On – Using Hot Sauce for Weight Loss

Posted by Blog Administrator May 10, 2012

hot sauce weight loss esearch - Ali Khademhossein

According to new research by Dr. Tavakkoli (above), the ingredient that gives hot sauce its heat could play a role in the future of weight loss.

Gastric bypass, Lap-Band, and hot sauce. One of these things is not like the others – or is it?

The first two are weight-loss surgeries, but hot sauce? The ingredient that gives the peppery liquid its heat could play a role in the future of weight loss, according to BWH researchers.

As the rate of obesity continues to rise throughout the U.S., so does the number of patients choosing weight-loss surgery. Yet, while most common weight-loss surgeries prove successful, they also involve significant recovery time and notable side effects. Not surprisingly, patients and doctors alike are on the lookout for less invasive surgical alternatives for weight loss.

That’s where Dr. Ali Tavakkoli, Department of Surgery, his research team, and capsaicin – the component responsible for the burning sensation in hot sauce – come in. Dr. Tavakkoli is investigating whether two surgeries – vagal de-afferentation, which uses capsaicin, and vagotomy – can achieve weight loss and reduce the risk of obesity-related diseases, such as diabetes, with fewer side effects than today’s surgical options.

Read More »

Bariatric Surgery – Losing Weight Is Just the Start

Posted by Blog Administrator March 27, 2012

Bariatric Surgery Helps Treat Diabetes

Research suggests that bariatric surgery can be an effective treatment for type 2 diabetes.

By now, most everyone is familiar with the dramatic weight loss that can be achieved through weight loss (bariatric) surgery. If you haven’t experienced it with a friend or family member, you’ve probably seen celebrities who’ve lost an amazing amount of weight following bariatric surgery and seem to be quite happy about it.

But evidence suggests that losing weight, although significant, is only one of many benefits that weight loss surgery can deliver.

According to Dr. Scott Shikora, Director, Center for Metabolic Health and Bariatric Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, prospective patients should be educated about the significant related health benefits that bariatric surgery can provide, not just the weight loss. He explains that most of us are aware that bariatric surgery can lead to a trimmer body and a corresponding increase in self-esteem, but many of us don’t realize how many diseases may be effectively treated through weight loss surgery.

Shikora and his peers are thus trying to raise awareness about the breadth of weight loss surgery’s benefits. “The field is now more focused on the health benefits of weight loss surgery,” says Shikora. “We talk to patients about the health benefits first, and then we talk about how much weight they can expect to lose.”

Read More »