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Every organ in the body is affected by obesity

Dr. Joseph Greene explains how obesity impacts the different systems of the body and when to seek treatment.

October 12, 2023
Dr. Joseph Greene

Joseph Greene, MD, MBA, FACS, FASMBS, is a board-certified and fellowship-trained surgeon specializing in bariatric (weight loss) and general surgery with Capital Surgical Associates, part of the HCA Virginia Physicians network and an affiliate of Reston Hospital Center, in Northern Virginia. Dr. Greene specializes in minimally-invasive and robotic surgical techniques for weight loss including sleeve gastrectomy (gastric sleeve), Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, duodenal switch, as well as revision and conversion surgeries. Here, Dr. Greene discusses the positive effects of losing weight on the systems of the body.

How does obesity impact the different systems of the body?

Struggling with obesity has a profound impact on all organ systems, with a direct correlation between excess weight and an increased risk of developing a wide range of diseases and chronic medical conditions. In addition to the elevated danger of acquiring Type 2 diabetes, a serious disease where blood sugar is too high, people who have obesity are at an increased risk for other diseases affecting organ systems across the body, including:

  • Cardiovascular: High blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, and heart failure
  • Respiratory: Asthma and obstructive sleep apnea
  • Skeletal: Osteoarthritis and other inflammatory joint conditions, gout, low back pain
  • Digestive: Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), gallstones, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Reproductive: Infertility and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), irregular and heavy menses
  • Skin: Rashes, skin discoloration, and thickening of skin folds
  • Endocrine: Type 2 diabetes
  • Cancer: Colorectal, kidney, uterine, and prostate
  • Immunity: Lowered immunity, increased risk for severe COVID-19 infection

Obesity also puts one at greater risk for early death, stroke, and heart attack.

Can weight loss surgery help reduce or eliminate the adverse effects of obesity on the body?

The good news is that individuals who choose weight loss surgery and closely follow the dietary and lifestyle recommendations of their physician, often begin to see a reversal of the physical ailments related to obesity before the surgery. Many patients not only lose weight but are able to stop their medications and experience vast improvements in their general health. Other benefits of weight loss surgery often include:

  • Cessation of insulin administration
  • Sharply declining cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
  • Reversal of sleep apnea.
  • Improved fertility levels for many patients, increasing their chance of conception.
  • Non-scale victories in the form of improved confidence, motivation, and mental health.

Even a five to 10 percent reduction in weight has a positive impact on reversing illnesses associated with obesity.

Are there additional positive outcomes from having weight loss surgery?

Yes. Following weight loss surgery, some patients find that they no longer need joint replacement procedures and many are able to control their diabetes solely through diet and exercise. Patients also are more likely to seek out preventive care, such as having a colonoscopy or mammogram, once they lose weight. In some cases, it is necessary to lose a significant amount of weight in order to have other medical procedures. For example, patients who are in need of an organ transplant cannot be placed on the transplantation list while they still have obesity.

While cosmetic improvements are always welcome, many patients find that weight loss surgery is truly a lifesaving procedure.       

When should I seek help with a medical weight loss program like yours?

Many patients with overweight or obesity are referred to our practice by their primary care physician because they have coexisting conditions like diabetes, heart disease, or sleep apnea that adversely impact their health. Beyond medical conditions, though, many people seek weight loss solutions because they want to be able to go for a walk with family, travel more comfortably, or simply hold their child on their lap. The personal reasons for wanting to lose excess weight are just as important as the medical reasons.

At Capital Surgical Associates, our compassionate, multidisciplinary team of surgeons, physician assistants, and dieticians work with patients to develop a lifelong approach that uses medical interventions, nutrition, and fitness to treat the effects of obesity as a disease. Patients wishing to lose excess weight are fortunate to have a number of weight loss options today, ranging from pills to injections to surgery. We will evaluate your goals and risk tolerance to develop a personalized plan that is right for you.

How do I know if I qualify for weight loss surgery?

To qualify for weight loss surgery, insurance companies and Medicare generally adhere to specific criteria:

  • Those with a BMI greater than 40 regardless of other comorbidities.
  • Those with a BMI over 35 who also have Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or other metabolic diseases.
  • Occasionally, those with a BMI 30-34.9 who do not achieve substantial or durable weight loss or comorbidity improvement with nonsurgical methods.

Patients interested in weight loss surgery should sign up to attend a free virtual seminar. During the live virtual seminar, patients will receive an overview of surgical options and what to expect post-surgery. From there, patients can schedule a one-on-one consultation with Dr. Greene to outline future health goals and begin creating a personalized plan for lasting success.

Following weight loss surgery, patients have regular follow-ups with Dr. Greene and his support team for the first year after surgery and periodically for the rest of their lives. They also have access to a hospital support group and should maintain regular appointments with their primary care physician.

If you have medical conditions related to obesity, weight loss surgery can help you not only lose weight but find significant, long-term improvements in your overall health.

Find out if you’re a candidate. Take our weight loss surgery health risk assessment.

October 12, 2023
Reston Hospital Center

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