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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

When Exercise Isn't Enough

Most health experts agree that the best way to approach weight loss is with a healthy diet, regular exercise and patience. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work for everyone. For some people, the faster they can lose weight the better—for their health! By now, it’s well known and universally accepted that obesity increases the risk of someone developing diabetes. Recent studies, however, have proven that obesity also increases a person’s risk of developing cancer.

According to the National Cancer Institute, obesity can lead to cancer in a variety of ways. One study, reported by the LA Times, says that obesity can seriously impact the microbes that live in a person’s “gut.” These changes cause the bacteria that live there to start producing chemicals that will damage a person’s DNA. This can then increase the likelihood of cancer taking hold.

Unfortunately, these changes can’t simply be undone by suddenly starting to eat a balanced diet. A person must actually lose weight and get them back down to a healthy weight range to reverse the changes that have been happening to them hormonally and on a cellular level. For some, this means taking drastic measures, like bariatric surgery.

According to Dr. Andrew Averbach, a bariatric surgeon based in Baltimore, the best way for some people to get back on track is to have a laparoscopic vertical sleeve gastrectomy. This procedure removes a huge chunk of the patient’s stomach, effectively turning the stomach into a tube or sleeve shape. Dr. Averbach says that the biggest benefit of the procedure is that it drastically reduces the amount of food a person can take in at one time. This, effectively, forces the patient to learn new (and healthier) eating habits.

Losing weight isn’t always simply about the weight, though. For many, it is also about their self image. Weight loss—especially drastic weight loss like the sort brought about by bariatric surgery—can cause sagging skin, scars, and other issues. These problems might seem superficial but they can be major hazards for people who have struggled with obesity for a long time. Effectively, the person still looks obese even after they lose weight.

Unfortunately, while it stretches, skin doesn’t typically shrink, especially if it spends a prolonged period of time stretched out. This is why many people choose to undergo plastic and reconstructive surgery after they get down to a sensible weight. Not every plastic surgeon performs procedures related to weight loss correction.  Often weight loss surgery patients can get recommendations for plastic surgeons from their bariatric and gastronomic surgeons. For instance, patients of Dr. Averbach can ask him to recommend the top rated plastic surgeon in Baltimore to help their recovery from drastic weight loss.

When the outside of a person matches the inside of a person, he or she is more likely to maintain a dramatic weight loss—even if they came by it naturally.

Remember: even with surgery, weight loss takes time. A person does not automatically drop fifty pounds upon having bariatric surgery.  It will take a few months to get down to a healthy weight and to figure out how to eat (most patients already understand the “what” of a healthy diet) properly.

Still, where cancer is concerned: it’s better to only have to wait a few months to reduce your chances than a few years!

The above article is a guest blog entry.

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