Why More Seniors Are Choosing Weight-Loss Surgery

Courtesy Provost Bariatrics

Americans are living longer. We are also growing larger.

The reality is that more than one-third of adults 65 and older were found to be obese in 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

What’s more, doctors estimate that obesity in adults age 60 and older may as much as double over the next 10 years. While obesity itself is not a chronic condition, it is a risk factor for many chronic conditions, including coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke.

With the statistics weighed against seniors, it may not be surprising to learn that there’s another number on the rise: the number of seniors who are opting for weight-loss surgery as a solution to their health issues. Older adults who are morbidly obese—at least 100 pounds overweight—are increasingly opting for some form of bariatric surgery as they seek to improve their health and quality of life for their remaining years.

“We know weight-loss surgery can help or resolve issues with diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, heartburn reflux, and it can make knees and joints last longer,” says David Provost, M.D., one of the foremost bariatric surgeons in North Texas and founder of Provost Bariatrics, a Texas Health Physicians Group practice in Denton.

“Just like a primary doctor prescribes an antibiotic to relieve flu symptoms, a bariatric surgeon prescribes weight-loss surgery to relieve obesity and the associated issues and risk factors that accompany obesity,” Dr. Provost says. “Of course, we always look at individual risks before prescribing anything—whether surgery or otherwise.”

The Benefits Can Be Golden
Studies have shown that age does not appear to significantly increase the risks associated with having weight-loss surgery. This means seniors can typically undergo weight-loss surgery without any worse side effects than those younger people experience.

Dr. Provost emphasizes the benefits to seniors who undergo weight-loss surgery by calling to mind one of his patients who underwent a lap-band procedure at the golden age of 74.

“When Gary approached us, understandably he was concerned that he might be too old for surgery,” Dr. Provost says. “But at 280 pounds, he was on medication for type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension, as well as a CPAP machine for sleep apnea, and was unable to even walk to the mailbox and back without being winded.”

Dr. Provost, who is one of the area’s few bariatric surgeons to accept Medicare patients, worked with Gary to thoroughly assess his situation and determined he was a good candidate for minimally invasive lap-band surgery. Since the lap-band is adjustable, it permits safe gradual weight loss over an extended period of time by limiting food intake and decreasing hunger. After surgery, Gary was able to get off his medications and maintain a much healthier weight. Patients can expect similar results when they follow the recommended bariatric guidelines and are compliant with bariatric surgery.

Other surgical weight-loss options have proven effective for older adults as well. Through sleeve gastrectomy, a portion of the stomach is removed to permanently reduce the stomach’s size. With the Roux-en-Y gastric-bypass procedure, part of the stomach is used to create a pouch that causes food to bypass a portion of the small intestine to reduce its absorption by the body.

“We have been very pleased with the results of the various procedures for our older patients,” Dr. Provost says. “It’s important to note that each procedure has its distinct advantages depending on the individual, and surgery is not the end all.

“Lifelong changes in eating habits and exercise, along with follow-up care, are necessary to ensure long-term weight-loss success.”

Is Surgery Right for You?
Weight-loss surgery has been found to be an effective treatment option for individuals of any age who are unable to overcome clinical obesity through diet and exercise alone. Dr. Provost often treats individuals who may be considered high-risk, including those older than 60. So when you can’t lose weight, don’t lose hope. All it takes is a quality bariatric program that offers comprehensive care and the latest surgical techniques to help you achieve your healthy transformation.

Dr. David Provost is dedicated to helping patients find weight-loss solutions at Provost Bariatrics in Denton. Dr. Provost is also a nationally recognized physician who has trained hundreds of other bariatric surgeons in the United States and abroad. For more information, call 888-715-4330 or visit www.ProvostBariatrics.com.