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When Diet and Exercise Aren't Enough
Fully Integrated Bariatric Services at Methodist Willowbrook Hospital

Ziad Amr, MD

Have you struggled with weight-related health problems? Are you significantly overweight and unable to lose pounds with a healthy diet and exercise? Are you ready to adopt a healthier lifestyle? If so, Methodist Willowbrook Hospital offers several weight-loss surgery options that might be appropriate for you. Methodist Willowbrook's Bariatric Services team specializes in helping people achieve – and maintain – a healthier weight.

How Does Weight-loss
Surgery Work?

Normally when you eat, it takes about three seconds for food to move to your stomach. And it takes another four to five hours for your stomach to move food to the small intestines, where the majority of calories are absorbed. Weight-loss surgery changes the normal digestive process – restricting the amount of food you can eat or changing the route food takes through your body.

The procedure is only one part of losing weight safely. "We provide all the elements of a fully integrated medical weight management program," says Ziad Amr, MD. "This includes nutritional and exercise counseling, information and educational resources, support groups, physician referral services, weight-loss surgery and a dedicated Bariatric Services coordinator."

Methodist Willowbrook’s Bariatric Services team specializes in helping people achieve – and maintain – a healthier weight.
One Patient's Story

Gabriel Garza underwent a gastric band procedure in August 2009 and since then, things have been going extremely well. Garza, who started at 375 pounds and a body mass index (BMI) of 52, has been losing the expected amount of weight since the procedure and has not experienced any problems. Garza's procedure was performed at Methodist Willowbrook Hospital by general surgeon Ziad Amr, MD.

Anyone considering weight-loss surgery needs to prepare ahead of time, both mentally and physically, because the procedure can't do everything for you. It is simply a tool to help you lose weight when you are ready to change your habits.

Before the surgery, it's important to go to informational classes and visit with the doctor. The Bariatric Services team explains what to eat, how many calories you can eat each day and how to count them. "They also teach you lots of tricks (like taking the time to chew your food really well) so that you feel full faster," Garza says. "It's important to lose weight before surgery, to show that you'll be serious about following the diet and exercise recommendations after the procedure. I've been following all of their suggestions and they've helped me a lot!"

Garza's surgery was in the morning. He was walking by evening and had practically no pain – about the equivalent of someone pinching him – and was able to go home the following day. "For the first three months I had follow-up visits with Dr. Amr every 15 days, so he could check the incisions and make any necessary gastric band adjustments, which are called ‘fills,'" Garza says. "Dr. Amr was excellent; he was always available if I needed anything.

"I don't drink carbonated beverages anymore and I've been cutting back on bread, tortillas, pasta and those kinds of foods," Garza says. "But I can eat pretty much anything else – as long as I chew it really well and eat slowly." At the time Leading Medicine in Northwest Houston went to press, Garza was down to 284 lbs. and a BMI of 41.9.

Anyone considering a weight-loss procedure should be well-prepared and willing to follow the weight management recommendations prior to surgery. Methodist Willowbrook Hospital offers weight-loss surgery seminars once a month. For more information or to register for a session, please call 281-737-2500.

Weight-loss Procedures
"At Methodist Willowbrook Hospital, we have a variety of experienced fellowship-trained surgeons," says Dr. Amr. The weight-loss procedures performed by these skilled surgeons include:

Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery, a procedure in which a surgeon staples off part of the stomach, leaving a small pouch that will only hold a few ounces of food. Then, the surgeon redirects the digestive tract – bypassing the upper small intestine. This reduces total calories absorbed. Methodist Willowbrook Hospital offers laparoscopic gastric bypass, which requires only small incisions, rather than a large open incision. "And thanks to our recent acquisition of a da Vinci® Surgical System robot," says Todd A. Worley, MD, "we are the first in Northwest Houston to offer this state-of-the-art minimally invasive option for gastric bypass procedures."

Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding, commonly referred to as lap banding, is an adjustable band that is placed around the upper stomach, creating a smaller stomach. A surgeon uses a laparoscope, requiring only tiny incisions, to place the band. It creates a feeling of fullness faster and causes a person to eat less. Many people choose lap banding for additional safety and convenience compared to gastric bypass. It offers a shorter surgery, and the intestines are not surgically redirected.

Sleeve gastrectomy, in which a section of the stomach is removed while maintaining continuity of the GI tract, resulting in reduced stomach volume. "This decreases the amount of food the patient can eat before feeling full, thereby decreasing the amount of total calories absorbed," explains Dr. Amr. Many people choose sleeve gastrectomy.

Taking the Next Step
Of course, surgery is a big step for anyone. "Bariatric Services Coordinator, Lana Gilmore, is involved with our patients from start to finish, offering a personal touch" Dr. Amr says. "She provides answers to people who call with questions about a procedure. She coordinates educational seminars for our community and facilitates our support groups. These groups offer people who have had surgery the chance to get together and talk about nutrition, exercise and what has worked well for them and what hasn't. It's a good information-sharing session.".

Weight-loss surgery may help people who suffer from weight-related health problems such as diabetes, heart disease or sleep apnea, but it isn't right for everyone. Learning about your options and talking to your health care provider is the first step in determining what is right for you. Call 281-737-2500 to learn more.