OakBend weight loss surgeon addresses obesity | News | journal … – Wharton Journal Spectator

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Mostly sunny. High 71F. Winds N at 10 to 15 mph..
Partly cloudy skies early will give way to cloudy skies late. Low 49F. Winds NE at 5 to 10 mph.
Updated: January 19, 2023 @ 6:24 am
Surgeon Dr. Christopher Reilly talks about bariatric (weight loss) surgery Jan. 11 during a quarterly community breakfast hosted by OakBend Medical Center in Wharton.

Surgeon Dr. Christopher Reilly talks about bariatric (weight loss) surgery Jan. 11 during a quarterly community breakfast hosted by OakBend Medical Center in Wharton.
When Dr. Christopher Reilly talks to patients about diet, he talks in terms of chicken breasts.
“Chicken breasts are 105 calories. I like to talk to my patients in units of chicken breasts,” he said. “Alright, so if you go to McDonald’s … their French fries are anywhere from 500 to 750 calories just for the French fries. Alright, so that’s seven chicken breasts you had when you had your large fries. If you have large fries, Coke, and a Big Mac, I think that’s 1,400 calories. You ate 14 chicken breasts for your quick meal.”
Reilly, a general surgeon who specializes in bariatric (weight loss) surgery, spoke Jan. 11 at the quarterly community breakfast for OakBend Medical Center at the Wharton hospital. In addition to diet and nutrition, he spoke about different weight loss surgeries and the twin epidemics of obesity and diabetes.
“A lot has changed in America, but no one really thinks about obesity in America. So look at 1991. By 1991 we really didn’t have an obesity problem in America. It seems to have developed some time in the ’90s. And we really don’t understand why. Affluence has something to do with it. People are eating out more,” he said.
Reilly said obesity needs to be treated like a disease.
“When you’re talking about obesity related diseases, it affects quite a number of people in our population … What it really does, it impacts every aspect of our lives. It increases your risk of premature death. Every disease you can possibly think of can be in some way associated to obesity,” he said.
He said the major disease linked to obesity is diabetes.
“One of the biggest things though, is diabetes. Diabetes, type two diabetes, which is epidemic in America today, it seems to be directly related to weight. And if you get the weight down, the diabetes seems to go away,” he said.
He said one measure of obesity is BMI, or body mass index.
“This is actually just a height-to-weight ratio. And so what we consider obese is a BMI of over 30. That’s roughly 40 pounds overweight. Morbidly obese is BMI over 40, that’s roughly 100 pounds overweight,” he said. “If we take overweight individuals, we’ve got over 60% of the society is overweight, and skewed towards the obesity numbers.
“And here’s the importance of a high BMI. Basically, the heavier you are the more likely you are to die … You can see up to 300% increase in mortality, this is all-cause mortality. So people say ‘well, he died of a heart attack.’ But he was obese. ‘He died of colon cancer,’ yes, but he was obese. All of these things seem to be related to obesity. If you take obesity out of it, your risk significantly decreases for all of these disorders.”
Reilly said obesity impacts the length and quality of life.
“If you are morbidly obese, your life expectancy is 13 years on average, shorter. Think about that. You lose 13 years of life if you’re obese. And not only do you lose 13 years of life, the quality of life for those shorter years is significantly decreased … Life expectancy is, unfortunately, 78 years old. But that’s still one of the highest we’ve ever had. If you’re morbidly obese, you’re looking at 65 years old,” he said.
Getting the weight off, however, is the age-old problem people have been trying to solve for years.
“It is a disease. It’s not a lifestyle. It’s not a choice. We’re starting to understand the physiology of why we’re gaining weight so rapidly, and we need to treat it like a disease. It can’t be as it has been treated in the past,” Reilly said.
He said most doctors medicate diabetes rather than looking at its root cause.
“Many physicians just treat diabetes as ‘well, you’re a diabetic, now I’m going to treat you with these meds, you’re gonna get pills, there’s really not another option.’ And as we’ll see through this … that there is an option,” he said.
Reilly said he has seen a lot of success with his bariatric surgery patients.
“The two main procedures that are done these days are the gastric sleeve, and the gastric bypass, but by far and away, the gastric sleeve is the most common procedure,” he said. “The lap band, I’ve done 1,000s of lap bands, I think it’s a good procedure. It’s gone out of favor because it’s a procedure that takes a lot of maintenance. And a lot of physicians really don’t want to maintain these bands.”
Reilly said most patients are pleased with the results of their surgery.
“They’re just not hungry anymore or not significantly hungry after the surgery,” he said. “A lot of patients will tell you that with weight issues that they never feel full. They can eat something and they’re hungry 30 minutes later. They never get that feeling of satisfaction and we don’t really understand the mechanism of that.
“What we found is that when individuals get about 40 pounds overweight, the hunger shutoff button seems to break. Again, don’t know the mechanism. But once you hit about 40 pounds overweight, you’re just constantly hungry. That’s what some of these procedures do.
“If you take that bit of the stomach off, patients will say, ‘Yes, I had a nice meal. I’m not hungry, I’m not going to eat until I get hungry again.’ And so the appetite suppressant aspect is part of how it works. The other part is that your stomach is smaller, so you feel fuller faster. So with appetite suppression, and portion control, adequate diet, this is how gastric sleeve works,” Reilly said.
He explained that the various surgeries are designed to shrink the stomach and trick it into feeling full.
“At the end of the day, diet is why you lose your weight. Anybody who thinks that they can just get a weight loss procedure and they’re just gonna magically lose weight, they’re gonna be sadly disappointed,” he said.
Reilly said that in addition to feeling good after losing weight that patients often discover other benefits from shedding pounds.
“So, if you have type two diabetes, absolutely first line therapy you should consider some kind of weight loss surgery. We can see your four-year remission rate 75%; hypertension, almost 60%; sleep apnea 75%. After four years, you’re not on your machine anymore if you got your weight down, and then reflux disease is a big problem. We touched on reflux surgery briefly in the beginning. A lot of patients, 60% of people have a hiatal hernia and reflux, that’s where the stomach slides up and in the chest. We fix those hiatal hernias when we do the weight loss surgery and almost 80% of the reflux goes away,” he said.
Reilly said that after one year, patients are happy they had their bariatric surgery.
“It’s not just weight, it’s physical function, body pain, general health, mental health, how you feel about yourself, how you feel in public. I got patients crying because now they can sit on an airplane and actually not ask for the belt extender,” he said.
OakBend Medical Center, like most hospitals in the country, continues to suffer the aftereffects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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