Shedding More than Pounds

Is Bariatric Surgery Right for You?

Bariatric surgery helps free patients from a range of life-threatening health problems.

It’s well known that bariatric surgery can produce impressive weight loss. But there’s increasing evidence that it offers other health benefits, too. For example, a recent Swedish study showed weight-loss surgery can prevent diabetes among individuals who struggle with obesity.

That news came as no surprise to Anita Courcoulas, MD, professor of surgery and chief of the Section of Minimally Invasive Bariatric and General Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “It’s another study demonstrating the lasting impact of bariatric surgery on health improvement,” says Dr. Courcoulas. “The changes are real and durable.”

A Life-Altering Surgery

According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, an estimated 72 million Americans are considered obese and nearly 200,000 undergo bariatric surgery annually.

UPMC is a leader nationally in bariatric surgery and in the number of bariatric procedures performed annually.

Dr. Courcoulas says bariatric surgery (including gastric bypass, gastric band, and gastric sleeve) can help reverse a variety of serious obesity-related health conditions, such as:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Sleep apnea
  • Heart disease
  • High cholesterol

Is Bariatric Surgery Right For You?

Current national guidelines recommend bariatric surgery for patients who are 80 to 100 pounds overweight and with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 40, or a BMI of 35 or more for those with one or more significant obesity-related health conditions.

Those guidelines may change, though. For example, at UPMC — one of the most highly funded centers of bariatric research in the country — Dr. Courcoulas is heading a study examining the impact of bariatric surgery on diabetic patients with lower BMIs (30–35).

She predicts more and more patients will seek out bariatric surgery for health reasons — not just weight reasons. “We’re just beginning to understand its full potential,” she says.

Bariatric Surgery Centers at UPMC

Each of UPMC’s four bariatric surgery centers has been named a Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. Our multidisciplinary approach to weight loss through both surgery and lifestyle changes is available at:

UPMC Hamot: Offers gastric bypass surgery, laparoscopic adjustable gastric band surgery, and gastric sleeve. For more information or to schedule an appointment with or Amjad Ali, MD or Rodolfo Arreola, MD, call 814-877-6997.

UPMC Horizon: Offers gastric bypass surgery, laparoscopic adjustable gastric band surgery, gastric sleeve, and revisional surgery. For more information or to schedule an appointment with Christopher Myers, MD, call 724-588-6660.

UPMC St. Margaret: Pittsburgh Bariatrics offers gastric bypass, laparoscopic adjustable gastric band surgery, gastric sleeve, and revisional surgery. For more information or to schedule an appointment with Joseph Colella, MD, or LeeAnn Peluso, MD, call 412-784-5900.

Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC: Offers gastric bypass surgery, laparoscopic adjustable gastric band surgery, gastric sleeve, revisional surgery, and clinical trials. For more information or to schedule an appointment with Anita Courcoulas, MD, director, Minimally Invasive Bariatric Surgery; Giselle Hamad, MD; Carol McCloskey, MD; or Ramesh Ramanathan, MD, call 412-641-3632.

Each center offers free monthly information sessions. To learn more about bariatric surgery, or to find out if you’re a candidate, visit the Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence website.

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