The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

January 11, 2011

After the pounds come off

Bariatric patients face options, challenges

— DANVILLE — Bariatric surgery offers those who are 100-plus-pounds overweight a viable option for reclaiming their lives, a physician at Geisinger Medical Center noted.

While these patients typically see dramatic results in the weeks and months following the procedure, they also face a set of challenges that accompany their new bodies.

According to the American Obesity Association, weight-loss surgery patients can lose between 25 and 75 percent of their excess body weight within several years of initial surgery.  

In order to maintain their new weight, post-surgery patients must adjust to a new diet and exercise regimen.

“To avoid damage to the stomach, which has shrunken considerably in size, patients must learn the most important technique of only eating until they feel full” said Anthony Petrick, M.D., FACS, FSSO, director of Geisinger’s Bariatric Surgery program. “This can be a big adjustment for those who were used to indulging in large meals on a continual basis.”

In addition, most patients will be asked to follow a low-fat, low-sugar diet of three small meals a day, with limited snacking.

“Exercise is also an integral part of this lifestyle change,” said Dr. Petrick. “Patients must make exercise part of their daily routine to help maintain muscle mass, which in turn helps maintain metabolism.”

Along with dietary and lifestyle changes, patients face another post-surgery challenge — excess skin. Excessive amounts of skin commonly accumulate in areas such as the neck, abdomen, arms and legs, potentially causing hygienic issues, skin irritation and, ultimately, discomfort.  

“The aftermath of weight-loss surgery, for some, can become a burden,” said Alexander Moya, M.D., director, Center for Weight Loss Body Contouring at Geisinger Medical Center. “At such a pivotal point in these patients’ lives, they should not be worried about unsightly, stretched skin; they should be celebrating their new bodies.”

Recognizing that this side effect of bariatric surgery can impede a patient from moving on with their lives, Dr. Moya developed several advanced body contouring procedures including the corset trunkplasty — a procedure that reshapes the abdomen.

“The procedure not only eliminates excess skin, but it creates a full-length, contoured torso and waistline,” said Dr. Moya. “Unlike other abdominoplasty procedures, this method targets both the lower and often-neglected upper abdomen to create a corset-shaped body that allows patients to fully appreciate their weight-loss efforts.”

Dr. Moya’s procedure can be conducted in a single visit, utilizing the latest technological instruments to reduce pain and swelling, as well as recovery time.

“Weight-loss surgery can have an incredibly positive impact on someone’s life. Cosmetic surgery is simply an option for extending the benefits of the life-changing decision to undergo bariatric surgery,” said Dr. Moya.