CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The first Saturday of March is observed as World Obesity Day. According to the World Obesity Federation, the day highlights one of the biggest health crises faced by about a billion people across the planet. The World Obesity Federation predicts the number could grow to 1.9 billion by the year 2035.
Experts say having a balanced diet and being active is one of the best ways to stay healthy. However, for people with obesity, it could be more complicated than that when they're struggling with the disease.
"Most people get that confused and think obesity is a lack of willpower and just fat. But no, it's a medical problem, a medical disease." Dr. Jegam Gopal, a bariatric surgeon for Corpus Christi Medical Center said.
Dr. Gopal specializes in weight loss surgery. He said weight loss surgery has evolved drastically in the last 20 years and mentioned a relatively new form of bariatric surgery, which uses robotics. He said, most patients who have robotic bariatric surgery can expect a two-to-three week recovery period after surgery. The procedure uses small incisions and is reported to be less invasive than traditional bariatric surgery. He said bariatric surgery has multiple benefits aside from helping people battle obesity and lose weight.
"We hear stories about patients saying, I can climb the stairs now, I can keep up with the family now, I can put on my own shoes." Dr. Gopal said. "It's the mini victories along the way that most people don't see, they just see the outward appearance only, but there's a lot of wins that come along after the procedures too."
Some other benefits he mentioned include:
- Reducing symptoms related to heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and more
- Quicker recovery
- Reduced pain and scarring
- Quicker return to regular routine
- Fewer complications
- Less trauma to the body
- Lower infection rates
- Shorter hospital stays
- Much lower rate of gastrointestinal leaks
- Lower risk of needing follow-up surgery
Corpus Christi local, Kim Grigg opted for the robotic bariatric surgery. She's currently 58-years-old, and she said she started struggling with her weight when she was about 40-years-old. She didn't have weight problems earlier in her life, until then.
"It was really gradual at first and once I hit 50 the weight came quicker, it seemed like it. I was like, all of a sudden, I was jumping pant sizes and I was like what's going on here." she said. "I think one thing too that hit me is, I'm a stress eater and I didn't realize that. When my mother died in 2019, wow, I packed it on."
The weight gain didn't only change the way she looked, it also had a negative impact on her overall health. She developed high blood pressure, prediabetes, severe acid reflux, ad sever chronic obstructive sleep apnea, among other things.
"The sleep apnea is deadly, the high blood pressure, I was a stroke waiting to happen, is what my doctor was telling me." Grigg explained. "I was like, okay Diet and exercise wasn't working for me. So, I said I've got to go to plan B or I'm not going to live to see grandchildren."
After a couple of years of research and consideration, at the end of 2020 she chose to undergo surgery. She said she didn't experience any complications and would choose the same path all over again if she had to. Grigg lost more than 70 pounds and said her health has never been better.
"I don't take any medication. No more blood pressure meds, I don't take anything for cholesterol. I don't take anything except for vitamins." she said.
Who is eligible for weight-loss surgery?
- If a person is more than 100 lbs. over their ideal body weight and have a Body Mass Index (BMI) (https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/9464-body-mass-index-bmi) of over 40.
- If a person has a BMI of over 35 and are experiencing severe negative health effects, such as high blood pressure (https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/4314-hypertension-high-blood-pressure) or diabetes, related to obesity.
- If a person can’t achieve a weight that’s healthy for you for a sustained period of time, even through medically-supervised dieting.
- For bariatric surgery to treat diabetes: If a person has a BMI of 35 or more with type 2 diabetes and/or other illnesses related to excess weight, and has not been able to achieve normal fasting blood sugar (less than 125 mg/dl or HbA1c less than 7 percent), they are probably a candidate for diabetes surgery.
- In some cases when diabetes is hard to manage, people may be eligible for bariatric surgery even if they have a BMI of less than 35.
Corpus Christi Medical Center provided keys to long-term success of robotic weight loss surgery:
- Commit to a healthier lifestyle after any weight loss surgery.
- Eat three balanced meals each day - avoid snacking
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day
- Eat protein with every meal, preferably first - you will eat less food if you eat protein first
- Exercise regularly
To learn more about the weight-loss options, you can schedule an appointment (https://ccmedicalcenter.com/physicians/specialty/bariatric-surgery) for a consultation and visit the bariatric services page @ www.ccmedicalcenter.com (http://www.ccmedicalcenter.com/)
(Corpus Christi Medical Center contributed to this report)