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Weighty Issues:

 Getting the Skinny on Weight Loss Surgery




            In my practice, virtually all the patients I see are overweight -- severely  overweight. They come in for a variety of reasons.  Health concerns are paramount…they are diabetic or at risk for heart attacks and strokes, their knees or back are shot from carrying  around so much extra weight.  Regardless of age, they do not feel as well as they can or should.

            Others come in because they are desperately unhappy.  Society is cruel to overweight  people. They are stared at, scorned or thought of as weak and self-indulgent.  They may not interact with friends easily or have a significant other in their lives. Salaries and employment opportunities are often affected by bosses’ attitudes toward overweight workers, thinking them either lazy or a poor insurance risk that will drive rates up.

            People who are overweight often feel invisible. They’re uncomfortable in their own skin. They’re unhappy and unhealthy and all they want is to be heard – and seen – for the person they are inside…and many of them don’t even know who that person IS yet!  

            Whatever the reason, whatever the physical or psychological malady they bring with them, the common thread is that they want to “fix it.”  Now.

            More and more, weight-loss surgery is the answer, giving the patient the tools to greatly improve overall health and even increase life span as a result of a dramatic loss of weight. You can find out all about the operations on the Internet and I’ll be describing them here, but one caveat…please be careful about what you read on the Web. While there is a ton of great information out there, there is also a lot of junk.  And since it’s not regulated and no one is vetting it for accuracy, you have to take everything you read with a grain of salt.

            It is my hope that this book will tell you what the Internet won’t. I have compiled the most often-asked and important questions my patients pose while they are in the decision-making process, getting ready for surgery or recovering from it. These are issues I address with my patients in the exam room or in my office, where they feel comfortable speaking freely. They are the subjects that come up over and over again in the pre-surgery education classes and post-surgery support groups we offer through our program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. These are the questions I face at “Ask the Doctor” sessions at Cedars, as well as the topics our post-surgical patients cover when they “pay it forward” to those whose surgery is in the future.

             I hope you will use these discussions as springboards for chats with your own doctor.  Ask the questions – all of them – the tough ones, the icky ones, the personal ones.   Losing weight to reclaim your health is a lifelong commitment and it’s hard.  But boy is it worth it. After all, it’s your life.

                                                                                                                                   -- Dr. Scott Cunneen