Surgery as an option for obese patients when dieting and exercise aren't enough, says doctor

Marc LaVoie
September 21, 2018 - 5:40 am

For a Friday Morning Follow-Up to the KMBZ Cover Story, "What's For Dinner? The American Obesity Crisis," we take a look at surgical remedies for people who suffer from severe obesity that significantly reduces quality of life and increases the likelihood of early death.

Dr. Stephen Scott is a surgeon who provides at least seven different procedures to help patients lose weight quickly. He practices at Lee's Summit Medical Center and Menorah Medical Center.

For most people, obesity is not caused by an eating disorder or food addiction, Scott said. Americans today are generally less active, they eat too many calories and there are concerns with the types of food they eat, like starches and sugars.

"It's some kind of combination of those things that our modern western diet leads to an incredible number of people suffering from this disease of obesity," Scott said.

Most people know obesity is linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep apnea and diabetes. People should pay more attention to the cancer risk associated with overweight, Scott said.

"Obesity significantly increases your risk of getting cancer, and then if you do get cancer and you're obese, it decreases the chance that you'll do well with the treatment for that cancer," Scott said.

Dr. Scott said the procedures he offers are safer than gall bladder removal, and they tend to bring about results where diets fail.

"When you go on a diet, your metabolic rate, the rate at which your body is burning calories, is going to go down drastically," Scott said. "It doesn't really change that much when you have weight loss surgery."

Surgically reducing the size and shape of the stomach is known to reduce cravings, increase the feeling of fullness and it causes a profound change in the way the body processes sugar. Weight loss of two to three pounds a week is possible with a many patients, especially if they stick to a medically-supervised program. 

Doctors use BMI (body mass index) scores to determine whether a patient is a candidate for surgery. A score of at least 40 is a common. A six-foot-tall person who weighs 300 pounds is a 40, as is a five-foot-six person who weighs 250.

Dr. Scott said he goes as low as a BMI score of 35 for patients who have an aggravating factor like diabetes or sleep apnea.

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