Taking the stigma out of weight loss surgery

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RICHFIELD — For some people, diet and lifestyle changes aren't enough to lose weight. On the advice of their doctor, bariatric surgery may be an option.

Richfield mother of five Mckenzi Wyatt said she struggled with her weight for years and tried every weight loss program out there.

"It would work for a little bit, then it would just stop," she said.

Dr. Preston Gilbert at Intermountain Healthcare's Sevier Valley Hospital recommended bariatric surgery for Wyatt. The surgery involves making internal physical changes to the digestive system to help a person lose weight.

To be successful, patients must make a total lifestyle change. To support that, they go through an 18-month process of education and multiple follow-up appointments after the surgery.

Before surgery, patients also undergo nutritional, psychological and exercise evaluations.

"There's a stigma out there that if people have been undisciplined, or haven't lost weight, it's because they need to work harder, but our physiology actually works against (losing weight)," Gilbert said.

Wyatt has lost over 60 pounds since having the surgery in April. She said it's been life-changing.

"I am very thankful," she said. "I have my life back."

Bariatric surgery is not for everyone, though. Gilbert said that if a person has one or more of the following, weight loss surgery may be a good option:

  • A Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than 35, with one or more obesity-related conditions.
  • BMI greater than 40.
  • 100 pounds or more to lose.
  • Medically managed weight-loss programs have failed to help you reach a healthy weight.

You might not be eligible if any of the following applies:

  • Your obesity is related to an untreated metabolic or endocrine disorder.
  • You have an untreated history of substance abuse or untreated major psychiatric disease.
  • You have health conditions that are severe enough that surgery would be dangerous.
  • You want to become pregnant within the next 18 months.

Gilbert said bariatric surgery requires a lifelong commitment following the procedure — patients will have to continue to take vitamin supplements, follow a strict diet and participate in regular exercise.

Intermountain Healthcare operates five weight loss surgery centers, including at Cassia Regional Hospital in Burley, Idaho; LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City; Utah Valley Hospital in Provo; St. George Regional Hospital; and at Sevier Valley Hospital in Richfield.

For more information, click here.

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Ayanna Likens
Ayanna Likens is an Emmy award-winning special projects reporter for KSL-TV.


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