5 Essential questions to ask during your weight loss surgery consultation

essential questions

 

The decision to have weight loss surgery is a big one, and it can’t be taken lightly. You’ll need to change your habits and commit to a new, healthy lifestyle for the rest of your life. Otherwise, you won’t see results after the surgery or be able to keep the weight off for good.

Because weight loss surgery is not a quick fix, you need to take control and learn as much as you can about the surgery as early as possible. It’s important to go into the first consultation with your weight loss surgeon with a prepared list of questions.

Here are five questions you’ll want to ask during your initial weight loss surgery appointment. It’s a good idea to write these questions down in a notebook and bring it with you so can refer to your questions and write down answers.

1. What is your experience?

Experience plays a big role in how skilled a person is at their job, and it’s no different for surgeons. This is a good question to start with, since it will help you better understand the surgeon’s background and skill set.

Of course, experience isn’t the only factor you need to consider. A surgeon who has performed a lot of surgeries isn’t always the most skilled. But a surgeon with more cases under their belt will often be a doctor you can be confident in.

2. Which weight loss procedures do you perform?

Many surgeons don’t perform every bariatric procedure that’s available, and there’s usually a reason why they don’t offer certain ones. Once you’ve found out which surgeries your surgeon offers, ask if there are any procedures they don’t perform and why. A lot of times you’ll find that, after offering a certain type of procedure, the surgeon found that too many patients weren’t seeing results, so they stopped offering it.

Usually, you’ll want to go with a surgeon who has enough options. If only one type of procedure is offered, do your research to see if that procedure is the best choice for you before moving forward. If not, it’s best to find someone who offers one that’s a better fit for your needs.

3. Which procedure would you recommend for me?

Any good, honest bariatric surgeon will tell you that there isn’t one procedure that will work for everyone. To answer this question, the surgeon will need ask you about your lifestyle, risk tolerances, exercise and dietary habits and medical history.

Your surgeon won’t choose a procedure for you — they will give their professional opinion about which procedure(s) will be most suitable for you and explain the benefits and risks of each procedure.

4. What kind of resources do you offer before and after surgery?

Weight loss surgery is a long process that you’ll need to be mentally and physically prepared for both before and after the surgery. The most successful weight loss surgery patients change their habits, take time to learn how to keep their weight off and have a good support system in place.

Your weight loss surgeon should be able to provide you with resources that will help you be successful over the long term. For example, does the surgeon provide a follow-up program after surgery to keep you accountable with sticking to the diet and other lifestyle changes that are critical to your success? Do they run support groups or recommend a good support group? Can the surgeon provide resources to help educate close friends and family members about how they can support you throughout this process?

5. What are your complication rates?

There’s no beating around the bush here. While complications vary depending on the specific procedure, they can and do happen. However, according to a study published in the July 2010 issue of JAMA, serious complication rates during bariatric surgery are relatively low. Serious complication rates were listed at 3.6 percent for gastric bypass and 2.2 percent for gastric sleeve surgery (sleeve gastrectomy).

If your weight loss surgeon’s rates are around or lower these national averages, you’re in good hands.

Stay informed

The questions above will give you the information you need to make the best decision for you. Remember to continue to write down all your questions and the surgeon’s answers before and after surgery. You’ll find this helpful for keeping track of questions and concerns you have throughout the entire process.


The dangers of opioid use after surgery

dangers of opioid use after surgery

The American opioid epidemic is a very serious problem. About 2.1 million Americans suffer from substance abuse related to prescription opioid pain relievers.

A new University of Michigan Medical School study has even found that people who have minor surgery are nearly as likely to abuse opioid drugs as people who undergo major operations.

The study finds that 5.9 percent of people who undergo minor procedures develop a chronic opioid habit in the three to six months after the procedure. For people who’ve had a major operation, that figure is 6.5 percent.

These numbers show that the type of surgery a person has doesn’t have much of an effect on the likelihood that they will develop a chronic opioid use problem.

In fact, patients continue to use opioids after their surgery for reasons other than the pain from the surgery, according to one of study authors.

A better predictor of a person’s risk for chronic opioid use after having surgery is their prior history of chronic pain. Also, if a person has a history of substance abuse, such as with alcohol or tobacco, he or she is more likely to become a regular user of opioid drugs after surgery.

So what does this mean for your weight loss surgery? 

Dr. Dirk understands the risk of opioid addiction. He rarely prescribes opioids after operations, and he watches his patients carefully after their weight loss procedures.

During and after surgery, Dr. Dirk uses various medications to provide pain relief for his patients. Research shows that this approach reduces pain and makes the need for opioids less necessary.

While opioids have an important role to play for surgery patients, it’s very important to make sure that patients don’t become dependent on these drugs. If you’re worried about the risk of opioid use during or after your weight loss surgery, Dr. Dirk is here to help. Contact his office today to schedule a consultation.

 


Parents can’t recognize childhood obesity for these reasons

childhood obesityWeight loss and obesity can be tough subjects to approach, since health and body image can carry significant emotional baggage for many of us. This is especially true when it comes to parents of obese children.

According to a recent study conducted by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the UCL Institute of Child Health, the vast majority of parents underestimate the extent of their child’s obesity and are unable to recognize the need for intervention. Because parents are so likely to misperceive the weight of their children, it’s important to safeguard against these tendencies with an honest assessment of your child’s health.

“This is a very difficult and highly emotional topic for parents to face, much less discuss with a health care professional,” says Dr. Dirk. Still, he urges parents to address such issues objectively.

“When it comes to your child’s current and future health, it is important to put aside feelings and face facts. Parents may think their child’s obesity is a personal failure. It is best to approach the situation as a concerned parent providing the best care for their child.”

While weight loss isn’t all about numbers, the figures published in this study don’t lie. About one-third of parents featured in the study underestimated their children’s body mass index (BMI) in a simple classification that categorized kids as underweight, healthy weight, overweight or obese. While a total of 369 children studied were properly classified as obese, only four parents were able to recognize their own kids as such.

The problem, Dr. Dirk explains, is that childhood obesity often sets kids up for a lifetime of weight-loss and weight-related health struggles.

“Obese children go on to become obese teenagers and then become obese adults,” Dr. Dirk says. “Obesity in teenage years threatens obese adults with major medical conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and sleep apnea,” he cautions.

Obesity increases emotional and psychological risks, as well. “We can not ignore the difficulties of unkind social interactions between teenagers,” Dr. Dirk says. “It is well known that obese teenagers can be isolated and bullied to the point of exclusion.”

So what can we do to combat childhood obesity? First, parents must remember that obesity is a treatable condition and by no means represents a failure on their part.

“It is very important is for the parents to stay involved and view obesity as a medical condition that must be treated,” Dallas Bariatric Surgeon, Dr. Dirk, advises.

That means starting by taking the child to a doctor for a thorough physical examination and, possibly, blood tests and X-rays. Then the doctor will make recommendations, which may include nutrition counseling with a dietitian, therapy sessions with a nutrition counselor and possibly a referral to a specialist.

While broaching the subject of child obesity can seem daunting, the health benefits and overall improvement in quality of life for children struggling with weight-related issues are well worth the tough discussion. After all, kids should be kids—healthy and free to participate fully in the activities they love.


Suffering from back or joint pain? Weight loss surgery can help

weight loss surgery back pain

One of the many benefits of weight loss surgery is the alleviation of back pain. Studies show that people who are overweight are at greater risk for back pain, joint pain and muscle strain than those who are not overweight.

If you are considering bariatric surgery and you suffer from serious back pain, here’s what you need to know.

How Obesity Causes Musculoskeletal Pain

Musculoskeletal pain, which includes back pain, occurs in the nearly one-third of Americans who are classified as obese. Simply put, the more you weigh, the more pressure you exert on your spine and joints.

The added pressure of each additional pound can cause cartilage to wear away, leading to bone-on-bone friction. Pressure can also flatten the cushioning disks between vertebral bones, causing back pain.

Additionally, extra weight can place stress on the spine and cause it to warp. Over time, the back may lose proper support and an unnatural curvature in the spine may emerge.

Obesity is also a culprit of lower back pain. For people who carry excess weight in their stomachs, the weight pulls the pelvis forward and puts a harmful strain on the lower back in addition to the rest of the body.

Conditions Related To Obesity

There are a range of conditions that obesity can cause and/or exacerbate.

As mentioned above, too much weight can place a lot of strain on the back, which can result in a herniated disc. A herniated disk occurs when spinal structures are damaged from the stress of having to counterbalance extra weight.

This stress also puts pressure on nerves in the spine. This can lead to pinched nerves, sciatica, tingling or numbness in the buttocks and legs and piriformis syndrome.

Obesity can also be a key contributing factor in osteoarthritis. Patients with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of more than 25 are more likely to develop osteoarthritis than those with lower BMIs.

How Obesity Complicates Back Surgery

Unfortunately, reducing back pain is not a simple matter of surgery for obese patients. Many joint and spine surgeons are often unwilling to perform surgery on overweight patients for fear that the obesity will only cause the new joint or spine repair to wear down and require additional surgery.

Moreover, obese patients face a greater risk of complications and infections after the surgery.

Weight Loss Reduces Back And Joint Pain

Just as more weight equals more pressure on the back and joints, a reduction in body mass reduces the stress on the joints and spine. In addition to the many other benefits of weight loss, it can also remove the stress that degrades the musculoskeletal structure.

Additionally, weight loss can reduce the risk of critical joint replacement or spine surgery, enabling patients to receive procedures which can further reduce joint or back pain.

Sticking to a healthy weight loss program can help you avoid or reduce the problems that excess weight can cause for your joints and back. For certain patients, weight loss surgery can reduce overall body mass and keep their muscles and bones in healthy shape.

If you’re experiencing back or joint pain related to obesity, give Dr. Dirk a call at (214) 974-8937. He and his staff can help you determine if weight loss surgery is right for you.


Is there a “quick fix” for weight loss?

weight loss medicineLong-time dieters frequently hear that there’s no “magic pill” when it comes to weight loss. But recent studies show doctors don’t always follow that advice. In fact, about 25 percent of doctors said they have prescribed weight loss medicine to obese patients — even though the doctors themselves admit those patients only reach their goals about half the time.

One interesting thing to note about this study is how scarcely obesity surgery was recommended. For patients who need to lose more than 100 pounds, pills designed to help you lose 10 percent of your weight simply won’t cut it.

The doctors and bariatric surgeons surveyed also used treatments like diet modification, exercise plans or behavioral therapy, but again said these options rarely meet the patients’ weight loss goals.

“My takeaway from this study,” says Dr. Dirk, “is that many family practice doctors, primary care physicians  and even weight loss specialists do not fully understand obesity as a medical condition and do not understand how prescription medications are different from weight loss surgery.”

One thing both options have in common is the reluctance of insurance companies to get on board. The medicines are rarely covered by health plans, and getting approval for obesity surgery can involve months or even years of back and forth between doctors, insurance companies, patients and specialists. All the time spent fighting is more time spent not being healthy, a problem that can have a huge negative impact on your life in the long term.

When patients are considering their options, the thought of the red tape and headaches is often enough to steer them away. But Dr. Dirk says that shouldn’t deter anyone who is in need of the life-changing effects bariatric surgery can offer.

The surgery is a kick-start to a healthier life — one that can help you lose 100 pounds or more and help relieve and prevent problems like diabetes and hypertension.

“Don’t let your doctor or insurance company keep you from the treatment you deserve,” Dr. Dirk says. “If you need obesity surgery, my staff and I can help you get there.”


Do low-calorie sweeteners boost weight loss?

Most diets ultimately boil down to eating fewer calories than your body uses each day. It stands to reason, then, that replacing sugar with low-calorie sweeteners would be a quick way to weight loss. But the science is a little trickier than it seems.

A recent study shows that reducing sugar by substituting artificial sweeteners is effective and can lead to an extra three-pound weight loss. So why are these sugar substitutes still under scrutiny? It’s because past studies have showed that people who used alternative sweeteners were likely to eat more food overall, or to compensate by eating fatty foods.

Studies have also shown that these sweeteners can actually increase cravings for sweet foods. The eater still perceives sweetness even though there’s no sugar, and sweeteners are actually often sweeter than their sugary counterparts.

Your best bet is to reduce your calorie intake by cutting out sweets altogether, regardless of whether they contain real sugar or low-calorie artificial sweeteners.

Once tactic some experts recommend is only consuming low-calorie sweeteners during the early days of a new nutritional plan. The idea is that as you reduce your overall intake of sweets, the low-calorie sweeteners will help fight off cravings at first and eventually be cut out of your diet entirely.

Whether your sweet snacks contain real sugar or artificial sweeteners, they’re likely to be nutrient-deficient. Most artificially sweetened foods are things like diet soda, candy or cookies, and they aren’t going to contribute to your overall health goals.

Dr. Dirk, a weight loss surgeon in Dallas, Texas,  couldn’t agree more. As he’s said again and again, there is only one guaranteed way to lose weight and keep it off.

“Eating a balanced diet of small frequent meals and cutting out highly processed foods is the key to weight loss,” he says. “Combine that with daily aerobic exercise and vitamins, and you’ll be good to go.”

And if that doesn’t seem to be catching on for you? Dr. Dirk can get your body into gear. “Obesity surgery works — it makes good nutrition and exercise more effective,” he says.


Why parents should aim to prevent childhood obesity as early as 2 years old

childhood obesity

Most people can remember when they first tried losing weight. Maybe it was after they gained the “freshman 15” or gave birth to a child, but a glance in the mirror or the number on the scale said it was time to take it seriously. For many, however, the weight gain starts much earlier. In fact, doctors say parents should be looking out for their children’s weight as early as two years old.

A recent policy brief from the Child Health and Development Institute of Connecticut makes it clear that watching infant weight is the best way to curb childhood obesity.

The Institute recommends avoiding “screen time,” providing day care centers with nutritional guidelines and encouraging children to be active, something Dr. Dirk wholeheartedly agrees with. He recommends activities as simple as tag or hide and go seek to keep kids moving throughout the day.

“It is important for parents to be aware of their children’s food intake and physical activity,” Dr. Dirk says.

The hope is that helping children make healthy choices at a young age will keep them on the right track. The Institute says childhood obesity leads to teen obesity and so on, resulting in heart disease, diabetes and all the other negative effects that come with being overweight.

Dr. Dirk sees this play out every day.

“I perform obesity surgery on teenagers,” Dr. Dirk says. “I see the enormous negative impact obesity has on teenagers’ lives and health.”

His tips for keeping children at a healthy weight sound a lot like his recommendations for adults: eat freshly prepared foods, increase physical activity and avoid anything processed or sugary. For children, an easy culprit to eliminate is juice.

“Commercially prepared 100 percent fruit and vegetable juice is not healthy.” Dr. Dirk says. “It is concentrated sugar — that’s why it tastes so good.”

Teaching children about health and nutrition as early as possible is also a great way to prevent them from becoming picky eaters. So maybe when they see the cafeteria in their freshman dorm, they’ll head for the salad bar instead of the pizza station… at least once a week.

Learn more about the different types of Dallas weight loss surgical procedures we offer.


4 Things That Will Sabotage Your Weight Loss Goals

Spring has sprung, which means many people are setting their second round of yearly resolutions. If your New Year’s weight loss plan failed, summer swimsuit season is on the horizon to motivate you to tie up your running shoes and try again. This time around, do a little more planning to avoid these weight loss pitfalls.

weight loss goals

 

Jumping in too deep, too fast

The excitement of a new diet and exercise plan can be a great encouragement, but it can also run you into the ground. Try slowly increasing the length and intensity of your workouts, or swapping junk food snacks for healthier choices instead of suddenly slashing your calorie intake. Measures that are too drastic will exhaust you and your body, and giving up altogether will cause you to gain the weight back — and then some.

Over-investing in fad diets 

Dr. Dirk is not shy when it comes to his thoughts on fad diets, like those that require you to purchase a plan, consume only one food or undergo a liquid-only “cleanse.”

“If something has to be processed for you to consume it, or if you have to find a store in a different continent, that just doesn’t make sense,” he says. “Eating healthy and being healthy does not require a trip to the moon.” These diets are tricky to follow and don’t offer a whole-health solution, leading to quick derailment and swift weight gain.

Turning to energy bars 

People frequently think that because they aren’t eating a whole meal, eating an energy bar is a good way to avoid the temptation of sweets or over-indulging. Unfortunately, the opposite is usually true. Most energy or protein bars are meant for someone about to do an intense workout, so they can easily lead to consuming 600 calories in just a few bites.

Overcompensating — or not compensating at all

Without a proper diet and exercise plan in place, your efforts may easily go to waste. If you’re working out without eating the right foods, you’ll feel fatigued and weak and have trouble achieving your fitness goals. If you work out and then eat a “cheat” meal to congratulate yourself, you’ll end up sabotaging your results. Keeping track of calories in and calories out takes a little extra work, but it is worth it to see those pounds finally drop.


Are “healthy” foods keeping you from losing weight?

healthy foods

You’re doing everything right. You’re ordering salads at restaurants, stocking up on fruits and vegetables and only snacking on healthy foods. Yet the weight is still there. What could be going wrong?

Unfortunately, many foods marked with “healthy” labels, like “low-fat” or “good for you,” simply are not healthy, especially when consumed at a higher rate—which a new study shows happens more often than previously thought. Researchers found that people perceive food marked as “healthy” as less filling, causing them to eat more and stall their weight loss.

“People eat more of the healthy stuff, but they end up consuming just as many calories,” says Dr. Dirk.

Just because food is “low-fat” or “carb-free” doesn’t mean that it’s calorie-free. A weight loss diet can only be successful when the calories burned per day exceeds the amount of calories eaten per day. So even if you only eat healthy foods, you’re not going to lose weight by overeating those foods.

“It has been known for a long time that just because a food label says “healthy” or “low-fat,” it is none of those things,” Dr. Dirk says. “Even when people go on a ‘fruit and vegetable’ diet, they do not lose weight.”

If you’re looking to lose weight, Dr. Dirk recommends learning how to read food labels. Take careful note of serving sizes and ingredient lists, and plan out each meal and snack (including portion sizes) so you don’t overeat.

Practicing good eating habits is a huge part of weight loss, but another component people frequently forget is exercise. Dallas Weight Loss Surgeon, Dr. Dirk,  says many people think they can lose weight on a diet alone, but if they want to take their weight loss seriously, exercise is key.

If diet and exercise seem daunting, Dallas obesity surgery can be a great way to kick-start the process, Dr. Dirk says. It makes exercise and a healthy diet more effective, yielding better results and keeping people encouraged on their path to weight loss.


New study reiterates the link between obesity and cancer

obesity and cancer

 

Of the many negative health effects of obesity, cancer is one of the most serious. While the link between cancer and obesity has been proven in many studies, it’s been demonstrated again by a recent British study of more than five million people.

Researchers from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine monitored changes to their subjects’ health over the course of seven years. The scientists found that weight gain was clearly and linearly linked to a greater risk for six different kinds of cancer. While this is the largest study to confirm the link between obesity and cancer, it’s definitely not the first.

“These findings are not news,” Dallas Bariatric Surgeon, Dr. Dirk says. “For years, it has been very clear that obesity is a serious medical condition which affects all our organs and thus puts us at higher risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, sleep apnea, arthritis and, yes, cancer.”

So what’s the best way to tackle the obesity crisis and in turn help people reduce their cancer risk? Many suggest putting the responsibility on society: increasing taxes on unhealthy snacks or limiting food commercials to certain times of day. However, even if these tactics are enacted, they could take years to change perceptions and influence the economy, grocery store shelves and people’s personal habits.

If you want to take the initiative yourself, losing weight is a great way to help decrease cancer risk, along with a host of other diseases and illnesses.

“The best way to reduce your cancer risk is to not be obese,” Dr. Dirk says. “The best way to not be obese is to practice good nutrition and daily aerobic exercise for one hour every day.”

If those steps do not work or do not seem to be doing enough, it’s time to consider your Dallas weight loss surgery options.

“Obesity surgery helps get rid of high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea, acid reflux, high cholesterol and joint pain — and it reduces your risk for cancer,” Dr. Dirk says. “If you’re concerned about obesity and your health, it’s time to give some obesity surgery some serious thought in order to start living a long, healthy life.”