You’re Never Too Old for Weight-Loss Surgery
By David Provost, MD, Provost Bariatrics, Denton County LIVING WELL Magazine
Good news. Studies have shown that age does not appear to significantly increase the risks associated with having weight loss surgery. So what does this mean if you’re a senior who may be struggling with weight issues?
“There’s been a fairly dramatic increase nationally in the offering of bariatric surgery to older patients in recent years,” says David Provost, M.D., one of the foremost bariatric surgeons in North Texas and founder of Provost Bariatrics in Denton. “Older patients definitely benefit from surgery, often more in terms of quality of life than younger patients. We also see good improvements in medical conditions related to obesity along with enhanced motivation and self-confidence.”
Dr. Provost emphasizes the benefits that can be had by 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.
Gary McCoy weighed 280 pounds when he first met with Dr. Provost in 2011. Gary had been an avid runner until age 50, but bad knees began to take a toll on his fitness routine and weight. 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.
When Gary approached Dr. Provost, who is one of the area’s few bariatric surgeons to accept Medicare patients, he was concerned that he might be too old for weight-loss surgery. The staff at Provost Bariatrics worked with Gary to thoroughly assess his situation and determined that he was a good candidate for Lap-Band surgery.
Making a Transformation after Age 70
During Gary’s surgical procedure, Dr. Provost inserted an adjustable gastric band laparoscopically into his stomach to help limit his food intake and decrease his hunger. Dr. Provost chose the minimally invasive procedure because it offers ease of band insertion, a shorter hospital stay (or no hospital stay, in Gary’s case) and rapid recovery.
Other surgical weight loss options that have proven effective in individuals over 50 include sleeve gastrectomy and Roux-N-Y gastric bypass. With a sleeve gastrectomy, a portion of the stomach is removed to permanently reduce the stomach’s size. In a Roux-N-Y gastric bypass procedure, a portion of the stomach is used to create a pouch that causes food to bypass part of the small intestine to reduce its absorption by the body.
“We have been very pleased with the results of the Lap-Band for Gary and other minimally invasive procedures for our older patients,” says Dr. Provost. “Of course, each procedure has its distinct advantages depending on the individual, and surgery is not the end all. To ensure long-term weight-loss success, you need to adhere to prescribed eating habits, exercise and follow-up care.”
Now at age 76, Gary has not only maintained his weight loss, but also bikes 75 to 100 miles each week and recently took up scuba diving. After surgery, he was down to 205 pounds and was able to discontinue all of his prescription medications and CPAP therapy.
“I actually think that Dr. Provost saved my life,” Gary admits. “Had I not had this surgery, I have no doubt that I would not have lasted very long.”
Is Weight Loss Surgery Right for You?
Dr. Provost often treats high-risk patients at Provost Bariatrics, including patients over age 50, but considers several factors when determining whether surgery is a viable treatment option for an older patient. According to a 2009 study reported in the Archives of Surgery, super-obesity and a greater burden of chronic disease are more closely linked to increased risks from weight-loss surgery than a patient’s age. In fact, weight-loss surgery has been found to be one of the most effective treatment options for patients of any age who are unable to overcome clinical obesity through diet and exercise alone.
If you are considering surgical weight loss, it’s worth finding a bariatric program that offers high-quality, comprehensive care and the latest surgical technology. After all, you deserve the best for your transformation.
Dr. David Provost is committed to helping patients looking for weight loss solutions at his Denton weight loss surgery practice. Provost Bariatrics is part of Texas Health Physicians Group. Dr. Provost is a nationally recognized physician who has trained hundreds of other bariatric surgeons in the United States and abroad. He may be reached at 888-715-4330 or www.ProvostBariatrics.com.