What You Need to Know About the Gastric Sleeve

gastric sleeve

Gastric sleeve surgery is one of many weight loss surgery options offered by Dr. Dirk. This procedure removes about 70 percent of the stomach, changing its shape from that of an empty football to one that looks like a skinny curved sleeve.

The goal of gastric sleeve surgery is to make you full quickly when you eat and keep you feeling fuller longer, causing you to eat less and lose weight.

Benefits of Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Gastric sleeve is a good middle-of-the-road surgery because it’s highly effective in helping you lose weight without the need to place a foreign object inside your body. While results will vary based on the individual, this procedure offers many benefits, including:

  • Feel full quickly
  • Lose cravings for certain foods
  • Only takes about an hour
  • Return home on the same day of surgery
  • Return to work and normal life in a few days
  • Lose as much as 60 to 83 percent of excess weight over 1- 2 years
  • Get rid of diabetes
  • Get rid of sleep apnea
  • Improve high blood pressure
  • Improve cholesterol
  • Positive impact on many of the hormones that will help you continue to lose weight

Following surgery, you’ll be on an all-liquid diet for up to three weeks. After that, when your stomach is fully healed, you’ll start your new, healthy diet and exercise plan!

Who is Gastric Sleeve Best For?

Gastric sleeve surgery is recommended for adults between 20 and 55 years of age, as well as for individuals with busy lifestyles that might prevent them from making frequent trips to the doctor, which is required by other types of weight loss surgeries.

Additionally, since aerobic exercise is critical to the success of the surgery, candidates must have the physical ability to follow a fitness regimen — and the drive to stick with it!

A Trusted Surgeon

Undergoing weight loss surgery is a big decision, and it’s important to have a surgeon who is highly experienced and reputable on your side. Dr. Dirk has nearly 30 years of surgery experience, including experience in general surgery, trauma surgery, vascular and laparoscopic hernia surgeries, and over 10 years of experience in gastric sleeve surgery. Furthermore, Dr. Dirk cares deeply about every one of his patients and their future health, so you can be confident knowing he’ll give you the time and attention you deserve.

Dr. Dirk is a nationally recognized surgery expert and has taught surgeons in the United States as well as Puerto Rico, Germany, Australia and Brazil. He has been recognized by D Magazine as one of Dallas’ Best Doctors multiple times over the years.

If you’d like to learn more about gastric sleeve surgery, schedule an appointment with Dr. Dirk today.


Patient Testimonial: Alyson Mitchell

patient testimonial

 

If you feel as though your life is on hold because of your weight, you’ll want to read Alyson Mitchell’s weight loss journey. It may just inspire you to make the commitment to stop waiting for a better life and start living the life you deserve now.

Alyson’s Story

Prior to her gastric sleeve surgery with Dr. Dirk in July 2016, Alyson had been battling her weight since she was in high school. Later, as a wife and mother, she found that being overweight was negatively affecting her mood and keeping her from being outgoing with her husband and kids. “The best way to describe my life before surgery was it was on hold,” she says. “Looking back, I wasn’t myself — at least not to my full potential.”

Alyson also found that much of day-to-day life was a challenge. She was hindered by her constantly worries about what she should wear, how she looked and how she felt. Even the activities she loved — like going to the beach, swimming and shopping — became sources of stress rather than enjoyment.

Although Alyson had been able to lose weight on her own, it always managed to creep its way back, and then some. One of the last times she had lost the weight was after her dad passed away. Within about six months, she had gained at least 50 pounds or more. “I didn’t even recognize myself anymore. I knew that I could try to lose it again, and that I would be able to, but I was just tired! Tired of gaining it all back.”

 

That was the turning point for Alyson. She talked to her husband and met with Dr. Dirk to schedule gastric sleeve surgery. She says the first week or so after surgery was extremely hard, but that she eventually began to feel better. Her biggest challenges following surgery have been learning her new limits regarding how much to eat, what to eat and how often to eat.

Now, she feels truly amazing and is thankful to Dr. Dirk for helping her to finally change her life and feel truly happy and confident. Prior to surgery, Alyson weighed 207 pounds. She currently weighs around 130 pounds.

“I am so happy that I chose to have this procedure done. I have energy, I feel happier and healthier. Going to the beach is way more fun, and my two girls and husband get the happy version of me back — the one that is not self-conscious about every little thing.”

Her advice to anyone considering weight loss surgery? “Do it for yourself, nobody else. Take the time to decide if it is right for you without telling everyone. If you do decide to do it, do it 100 percent. Follow the rules and guidelines, and you will have truly successful results!”

Read more inspirational success stories from Dr. Dirk’s patients here.


Obesity: A Major Contributor to Rising Death Rates

rising death rates

After years of decline, mortality rates among middle-aged Americans throughout the United States have begun to increase. Additionally, in some parts of the country, life expectancy is falling.

What are the factors contributing to this rise in death rates? A recent article in the Denver Post highlighted the findings of a new study that sheds some light on this important issue.

Obesity a major contributor to rising death rates

Ryan Masters, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Colorado’s Institute of Behavioral Science and the lead author of this study, concluded that there are two main drivers of this trend in rising death rates: drug overdoses and obesity.

Masters and his research team identified the opioid epidemic as the bigger problem of these two drivers. According to the study, drug-related deaths of middle-aged white men have increased dramatically since 1980.

Obesity was also identified as a main factor in mortality. “We are just starting to see the real health consequences of the obesity epidemic,” Masters wrote. The study found that decades-long progress in fighting heart disease, diabetes and other metabolic diseases has slowed, contributing to the rising death rates.

Dr. Dirk’s opinion

Dr. Dirk agrees with the study’s conclusion that obesity is killing a lot of people. He also believes that, while the drug epidemic is dramatic, obesity affects far more people. There are many more obese people in the US than drug users, and more people die as a result of obesity because of the wide array of health issues it leads to, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and sleep apnea.

Dr. Dirk believes the drug epidemic is important and must be addressed. However, he feels that obesity is a more pressing issue with a simpler solution. It is high time to make being healthy financially and physically possible for everyone.


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.


Feeling nervous before surgery? Try these 6 tips

surgery anxiety

It’s totally normal to feel stressed or nervous before having weight loss surgery. If you’re feeling a little surgery anxiety — or if you want to prepare for potential anxiety about your upcoming weight loss surgery — the following tips may be helpful in the days and weeks before your surgery.

Here are six simple and effective ways to help ease some of the fear and anxiety you may feel as your weight loss surgery gets closer.

1. Do your research

Get lots of information about your surgery as early as possible. The more you know about what to expect, the better you’ll feel about it. Pay close attention to information about success rates and the steps you can take to make your experience more positive before, during and after surgery.

2. Talk to your doctor about your fears

Talking to your doctor about your fears is a great way to learn more about the surgery and get further details on anything you’ve come across in your research. This open communication will also increase your level of trust in your doctor and help ease your worries.

3. Take care of pre-surgery tasks

Focusing on what you need to do to prepare for your surgery will keep you productive and give you a more positive outlook about your surgery. Tasks can include packing your bag, arranging for rides to and from the surgery and making sure you have friends and family around to help with daily chores and activities as you recover.

4. Keep a written list of questions and fears

Sometimes just the simple act of putting your thoughts and fears on paper can help you feel better. Your mind will be free to focus on more positive thoughts and actions. Keeping a list also allows you to keep track of things you want to discuss with your doctor.

5. Get support

Remember, you’re not alone! You can find support from family, friends and co-workers. If you’re feeling especially anxious — or want to talk to someone who can relate more — it might be a good idea to talk to other people who have already gone through the surgery. Hearing about their experiences and getting tips from them can lessen your worries. If you don’t know anyone personally, see if your doctor knows of a local support group or a former patient who would be open to talking to you.

6. Find a calming activity

Spend time each day doing something that helps you to relax. This could be reading, walking, meditating, listening to music or something else. If you aren’t sure what works for you, try different activities until you find the one that suits you best. If possible, take some time doing this activity on the day of your surgery to help you feel as relaxed as possible.

Try these suggestions to combat surgery anxiety and feel more at peace on the day of your procedure. Before you know it, you’ll be on the other side and others will be asking you for support!


Can you be obese and still be healthy?

obese and healthy

Obesity is a widespread condition in the U.S. About 35 percent of women and 31 percent of men are obese, meaning that their body mass index (BMI) is 30 or higher.

In recent years, some people have said that it’s possible to be healthy and obese at the same time. The reasoning for this is that certain obese people don’t show the metabolism changes that usually come with obesity.

According to a new study from the University of Birmingham, however, the idea that a person can be both obese and healthy is a dangerous myth.

“Healthy” obesity is a myth

In the past, doctors relied on measurements like blood pressure and cholesterol levels to say whether someone was healthy or not. Some obese people don’t have the elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels that you might expect for someone of their weight.

But the University of Birmingham study, which followed the health records of 3.5 million people for 20 years, shows that these seemingly healthy numbers don’t mean that these people are actually healthy.

Obesity increases risk of heart disease and stroke

Contrary to claims of “healthy obesity,” this University of Birmingham study showed that obese people are greater risk for certain diseases.

Compared to people with a normal weight and a healthy metabolism, obese people are at a 49 percent increased risk of heart disease and a whopping 96 percent increased risk of heart failure.

As we’ve discussed on this blog before, the health effects of obesity go beyond heart disease. Obesity has also been linked to cancer, liver failure, spine pain and even mental disorders, such as depression.

According to Dr. Dirk, this study is very important because it ends the myth that a person can be obese and still be healthy. “Obesity is a real medical condition in which which your body is not working effectively for you,” says Dr. Dirk.

The best solution is to tackle the core problem of weight. Making changes to your lifestyle, particularly changes in diet and physical activity, can do the trick. However, for some people, obesity surgery is the best and most realistic option.

“Surgery helps make good nutrition and exercise work better for you. It’s all about making you a healthy person,” Dr. Dirk says.

If you’re ready to take the next step towards living a healthy life, schedule an appointment with Dr. Dirk today.

 


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.


Patient Testimonial: Callie Cunningham

patient testimonial

Being overweight can have real consequences not only for your physical health, but also for your quality of life. Just ask Callie Cunningham.

Before meeting Dr. Dirk and undergoing a gastric sleeve procedure in May 2016, Callie, a phlebotomist, had long struggled with weight problems. She was constantly depressed or angry, and she had little desire to go anywhere or do anything. Back then, Callie weighed 333 pounds.

After her mother and her children gave her the motivation to change her life, Callie decided to undergo a weight loss procedure with the help of Dr. Dirk.

Thanks to the gastric sleeve and Callie’s commitment to changing her lifestyle, she was able to lose 81 pounds and counting. She realized how big an accomplishment her weight loss was when she discovered she could wear her teenage daughter’s clothes.

patient testimonial

Now, Callie eats smaller portions and lives a more active lifestyle, including walking and spending more time with her children. “I feel better about myself and my appearance,” Callie says.

She’s also enjoying the responses she gets about her weight loss. “I wasn’t used to receiving compliments!”

Callie says that Dr. Dirk’s guidance and advice was crucial to her weight loss journey. “He was amazing, but also blunt,” Callie says. “He told it like it is, with no sugar-coating.”

Above all, Callie’s experience has taught her that the key to weight loss is being motivated to change yourself and your life. “I tell my friends that the sleeve is a tool to help you, but the real tool is yourself. You have to want to change and to be healthy.”

Find more inspiring success stories from Dr. Dirk’s patients here.


9 Tips for Eating Out After Weight Loss Surgery

eating out after weight loss surgery

Eating out is one of America’s favorite pastimes. For people trying to stick to a diet or make smart dining decisions after weight loss surgery, however, navigating restaurants can be tricky.

Luckily, you don’t have to completely forego eating out in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. All you need is to be strategic about where, what and how often you eat out. Follow these smart and simple tips to eat out and eat healthy after weight loss surgery

Eat a light lunch

Are you planning on eating out for dinner? Many people try to compensate for a more indulgent dinner by skipping lunch. But the fact is, skipping lunch is a strategic disaster. By the time you take your seat for dinner, you’re ravenous. And ravenous people don’t make the best eating decisions. (Consider the bottomless bread basket.)

So instead of foregoing lunch, have something light. A salad with some chicken is a good bet. Then, in the afternoon, stave off hunger with a small snack, such as a handful of almonds.

Know before you go

Before you decide on a restaurant, read the menu and confirm that the restaurant has healthy options that adhere to your diet.

Nowadays, you can even find nutritional information on restaurant websites, including calorie, fat and carb counts. Read the menu carefully and thoroughly, and don’t go on menu item names alone. Just because a steak with Gorgonzola and pan-fried veggies is labeled as “lite” doesn’t mean it is.

Consult your weight loss surgeon or dietician regarding what foods you should avoid and what foods you should eat. Generally, you want a balance of lean proteins (fish, chicken), complex carbs (brown rice, whole wheat pasta) and monounsaturated fats (canola or olive oil).

Decide what you will order before you get to the restaurant, and stick to your decision.

Sit in a quiet area

This tip isn’t as obvious, but it’s important. Did you know that people who sit in more distracting areas of restaurants (such as by a window or in front of a TV) eat substantially more?

Noise makes it easier to lose track of how much you’re eating. So when you make your reservation, be sure to request a quiet table.

Don’t overdo the alcohol

As a rule of thumb, stick to one drink or one glass of wine with dinner. More drinks results in more calories — but not just calories from the drinks themselves.

Drinking alcohol before a meal also boosts short-term appetite and food consumption, according to a study at the University of Sussex. Alcohol may temporarily impair your body’s ability to feel full.

Send the bread or chips back

It’s tempting to dig into a bread basket or bowl of chips, but resist. Two or three pieces of bread and butter mean a couple hundred calories before you even place your order. A bowl of chips can contain 645 calories and 34 grams of fat.

Order first

Manners have their place, but it’s important to place your order first. Once you have decided on a healthy option, you don’t need to be tempted by your friend’s order of a burger and fries. Order first, and you won’t risk hearing the siren call of salty, fatty fried stuff.

Modify your order

Almost every restaurant will accommodate you if you want to modify your order. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about how the dish is prepared, what ingredients are used, and whether the restaurant can prepare a low-fat or low-calorie version of the dish.

Make special requests and ask about substitutions.

Be smart with salads

Salads aren’t always virtuous. Add heavy dressing, croutons, cheese or bacon, and you have a calorie-packed, fatty meal on par with regular entrees.

For instance, a house salad at Applebee’s is around 230 calories. Add dressing, and that calorie count more than doubles to 470 calories, close to the 12 oz. New York strip.

Looking for dressing? Request oil and vinegar on the side. That simple choice can save you up to 18 pounds per year.

Control your portions

It’s a cliché, but it’s true. Everything is bigger in Texas — especially the restaurant portions. Yes, Mom taught you to finish everything on your plate, but not when the plate is the size of a hubcap.

Leave about a third of your food on your plate. That step alone can help cut 300 calories off your meal. Best of all, you can take the remainder of the food home for another meal.

Eating out doesn’t mean saying goodbye to your diet. Be strategic, and you’ll enjoy your night out all the more for staying healthy.