Better With Bariatric
For those who qualify and go through with the surgery, it all but guarantees significant improvements to life and health. KOMU sat down with a man who had bariatric surgery and he gives up the skinny on how it's changed his life for the better.
"My life absolutely transformed at the point I had the surgery. From the physical way, spiritual, society ... the whole nine yards," said Justin Delap, bariatric surgery patient.
At just 29 years old, Justin Delap tipped the scales at 450 pounds.. He had high blood pressure and was borderline diabetic.
He knew he had to do something if he was going to be around for his wife and two young sons. A chest pain episode finally convinced him to look into surgery.
"There's actually a phenomenon known as dumping (that) occurs, where a person feels like they're coming down with the flu, some feel like they've been punched in the stomach, some get a massive diarrhea after eating these wrong kinds of food," said Dr. Roger de la Torre, bariatric surgeon at University Hospital.
Lifestyle changes are a necessity and dramatic. No more high sugar, high fat foods.
"People always say you did it the easy way, in the media. It is not. I did the diet and exercise. I played football. I was a high school varsity athlete," Delap said. "I did the up and down, up and down. I did the Weight Watchers thing for years and years, this is the only thing sustainable I could have done. It's not for everyone because it's not as easy as it sounds."
To some, cutting back on tasty foods can be a challenge.
""For a couple of weeks all you can do is liquid and Jello. I still have to watch my volume and my sugar intake," Delap said. "It's better, I don't have to worry about eating three or four M&M's and getting sick. I can eat a little bit of things in moderation, but you still have to really watch it."
Obesity in our country has increased nearly 75 percent in about 15 years.
"For the most part with morbid obesity, there's a multitude of factors, many are hereditary, many involve different parts of the brain," Dr. de la Torre said. "It's not something we should point the obese person and say it's your fault if you could just push that plate away."
Cutting back on foods was not the only challenge to Delap.
"I was 450 pounds. Trying to exercise when you're 450 pounds is like trying to exercise with a 250 pound wool suit on," said Delap.
For those who do have surgery, the health results are staggering. It reduces your chance of dying from weight-related health problems by 89%. Nearly 85% no longer have diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are under control, and sleep apnea and acid reflux both see improvements if aren't resolved all together.
Then there's the social changes.
"It's the last bastion of prejudice, you can absolutely make fun of fat people and it's okay," Delap said. "Hey man, you're just too heavy. No one is going to hire you. No matter how good your personality is, no matter how outgoing you are, no matter how good you can sell, being that heavy, you're not going to get the job.' People treat you differently when you lose that much weight."
And how much weight, you might wonder. Most patients lose a pound or two a day for several months, and on average shed 100 pounds in about 10 months. Usually ending up about 15 percent above their ideal body weight.
Insurance will often cover the cost of the surgery and sometimes Medicare and Medicaid will, too. A body mass index of 40 or above is needed, which correlates to about 100 pounds overweight.