Our Experts, Your Health

When diet and exercise aren’t enough

Losing weight is different for everyone. Many factors go into it including how much weight you want to lose, your genetics, build, medical history, and so on.  Like so many other things, what works for one person might not be a strong enough tool for someone else.  And, for some, we arrive at metabolic surgery as the best option.  The two most common metabolic procedures we do at Billings Clinic, the vertical sleeve gastrectomy and the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, have been shown to have long lasting effects on both the size of the stomach and the body’s metabolism.

Wait a minute, hold on – isn’t that taking the easy way out?  I’ve heard that one a lot.  No, not really.  First off, let’s be completely honest – we’re talking about major abdominal surgery here, so I don’t think “easy” is a word I would ever use.  The idea that you’ll lose weight forever no matter what you do after surgery is a myth. Metabolic surgery is a tool that allows people to get some pretty impressive results, but long-term success requires a lifetime commitment to a healthy lifestyle.  That means eating well, following dietary guidelines to make sure you’re getting the right nutrition, exercising most days, taking daily vitamins and getting regular medical follow-up FOR A LIFETIME.  Not my definition of “easy” – but I have patients every week who tell me it’s worth it.

So why go through all that?  Well, as I mentioned before, for a lot of our patients this is their best option to get the weight off and keep it off.  For some, it reduces or eliminates their dependence on medication for conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure.  For others it improves mobility or energy levels.  For some it’s a little bit of all of the above.

By now you might be wondering, is this something I should consider?  The first step is to discuss it with your primary care provider.  Find out what your BMI (body mass index) is.  To be a candidate for metabolic surgery, you need to have a BMI greater than or equal to 40 OR your BMI needs to be above 35 with another weight related health problem like diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, etc. Next, go to a metabolic surgery information session.  Here is the schedule for information sessions at Billings Clinic. We want you to come to a session and learn about the process before you come in for your first visit.

Next, it’s time for a little soul searching.  Are you at a point in your life when you can commit to eating well (with guidance from a dietician), regular activity (we recommend 150 minutes per week), and regular follow-up visits?  Who are the support people in your life who can help you through this process?  Once you’ve done all these steps, then it’s time to make an appointment for an individual consultation.  Everyone’s journey is different, but the most important step is educating yourself about what the road ahead looks like.

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