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Your Weight Loss Options, Defined

February 01, 2018

For many, weight management is a challenge. Yet it is one of the most important steps you can take for a healthier lifestyle. Dr. Darren Tishler is the director of the Hartford HealthCare Medical and Surgical Weight Loss program. 

Q: Explain some of the many approaches to weight loss that you offer.  

A: Here at Hartford HealthCare, we are taking a new approach to bariatric, or weight loss, surgery. In the past, we would often look at any diet, exercise program, or bariatric surgery procedure in terms of how much weight we could expect a patient to lose.  In fact, most overweight or obese Americans about to start a new diet, exercise program, or have bariatric surgery set unrealistic “weight loss” goals for themselves, leading to disappointment and a sense of failure.  That’s part of the reason that our team of surgeons and weight loss experts is now focused on asking not how much can you lose, but instead, what will you gain?

Q: What can patients expect?

A: Patients can expect a comprehensive team of Internal medicine specialists, registered dietitians, nurses and clinical psychologists all working together to find the best way to help patients lose weight safely and effectively. Recently, we have integrated our medical and surgical weight management programs.  Our board-certified medical weight loss specialists are able to offer non-surgical options for those patients who are interested in a physician-based approach to weight loss.

We also provide nutritional education, lifestyle guidance, exercise plans, behavioral eating techniques, trigger analysis and pharmacotherapy options. For those who chose surgery, our medical weight loss experts can help to enhance results both before and after surgery.

Q: How does someone know if bariatric surgery is right for them? 

A: Most people feel that weight loss surgery is for someone who is hundreds of pounds overweight, someone who can’t walk, or someone who is in extremely poor health. That couldn’t be further from the truth.  In fact, our goal is to make sure that our patients don’t ever get to that point in the first place.

From a purely weight standpoint, women about 60 pounds or more overweight and men about 70 pounds or more overweight might be candidates for bariatric surgery.  A better measure which takes into account both height and weight is Body Mass Index (BMI).  A BMI of greater than 35 kg/m2 with other health problems, or a BMI of 40 kg/m2 or more with or without medical problems are considered candidates for bariatric surgery by most insurance companies, although some offer coverage for BMI greater than 30 with certain health problems.  You can easily calculate your BMI here.

We look at bariatric surgery to serve two purposes, the first being to treat obesity related health problems.  The second purpose is to prevent these health problems from ever happening in the future.  In my experience, many people don’t consider bariatric surgery early enough.  Patients who are overweight need to consider both their personal health issues as well as their family history.  For example, an overweight person with obese parents with diabetes, high blood pressure, and a history of heart disease should be more aggressive at treating their weight at an earlier stage in their life.  We offer bariatric surgery because the risk of surgery is substantially lower than the risk of dying prematurely from obesity related diseases.  Unfortunately, there are patients who wait too long before considering bariatric surgery and only consider it as an option once they have been diagnosed with possibly irreversible health conditions.

For more information on the surgical and medical weight loss options offered by Hartford HealthCare – and to find a FREE community education class near you – visit whatwillyougain.org, or call 1.855.792.6258