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Obesity and Weight Loss Surgery

Obesity is a clinical definition used to describe someone whose excess weight has entered a range that may endanger their health and shorten their lifespan. Morbid obesity is typically defined as being 100 lbs. or more over ideal body weight or having a body mass index of 40 or higher. Those are important numbers to remember, because they are part of the standard used by Bon Secours Surgical Weight Loss Center to identify candidates for a surgical weight loss procedure.

According to current research, weight loss surgery can improve or resolve associated health conditions in nearly 90% of surgical patients. A partial list of some of the more common obesity-related conditions follows. Your doctor can provide you with a more detailed and complete list:

Type 2 Diabetes
Obese individuals develop a resistance to insulin, which regulates blood sugar levels. Over time, the resulting high blood sugar can cause serious damage to the body.

High Blood Pressure/Heart Disease
Excess body weight strains the ability of the heart to function properly. The resulting hypertension (high blood pressure) can result in strokes; it can also inflict significant heart and kidney damage.

Osteoarthritis of Weight-Bearing Joints
The additional weight placed on joints, particularly knees and hips, results in rapid wear and tear, along with pain caused by inflammation. Similarly, bones and muscles of the back are constantly strained, resulting in disk problems, pain and decreased mobility.

Sleep Apnea/Respiratory Problems
Fat deposits in the tongue and neck can cause intermittent obstruction of the air passage. Because the obstruction is increased when sleeping on your back, you may find yourself waking frequently to reposition yourself. The resulting loss of sleep often results in daytime drowsiness and headaches.

Urinary Stress Incontinence
A large, heavy abdomen and relaxation of the pelvic muscles, especially associated with the effects of childbirth, may cause the valve on the urinary bladder to be weakened, leading to leakage of urine with coughing, sneezing, or laughing.

Gastroesophageal Reflux/Heartburn
Acid belongs in the stomach and seldom causes any problem when it stays there. When acid escapes into the esophagus through a weak or overloaded valve at the top of the stomach, the result is called gastroesophageal reflux, and “heartburn” and acid indigestion are common symptoms. Approximately 10–15% of patients with even mild sporadic symptoms of heartburn will develop a condition called Barrett’s esophagus, which is a pre-malignant change in the lining membrane of the esophagus, a cause of esophageal cancer. For more information on Heartburn, its causes and possible cures, visit

Seriously overweight persons face constant challenges to their emotions: repeated failure with dieting, disapproval from family and friends, sneers and remarks from strangers. They often experience discrimination at work, cannot fit comfortably in theater seats, or ride in a bus or plane.

Obesity can cause infertility in women when extra fat cells disrupt the balance of hormones needed to get pregnant. Obesity can negatively impact male fertility as well, leading to lower sperm counts and sperm quality.

Menstrual Irregularities
Morbidly obese individuals often experience disruptions of the menstrual cycle, including interruption of the menstrual cycle, abnormal menstrual flow and increased pain associated with the menstrual cycle.

Although our physicians are concerned about the causes of obesity, their focus, on a professional and personal level, is the treatment of obesity, and helping patients to reclaim health, through proven surgical weight loss procedures and aftercare. As part of his quest to see individuals get the weight off to start living healthier lives, Dr. Mehmet Oz advocates weight loss surgery as an “underperformed” tool in the fight against obesity and type 2 diabetes.

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