July 11, 1997

Procedure a ‘last resort’ for morbidly obese patients

Procedure a 'last resort' for morbidly obese patients

The surgery that Donnie Taylor underwent is not an uncommon procedure. Dr. J. Kelly Wright does approximately 30 gastric bypass surgeries a year.

³By the time the patients come to see me they will have health-affective obesity and other attempts of controlling their weight will have failed,² Wright said. ³The surgery is clearly a last resort effort.²

Wright says that ³morbidly obese² is a term that means the patient's weight is excessive enough to be a direct threat to the patient's health, or already impacting the patient's health.

³Severe obesity is defined as being 100 pounds above, or 200 percent of your ideal body weight,² he said. ³Patients who are morbidly obese are at a greater risk for developing many illnesses including diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and disabling osteoarthritis, among other conditions.²

The majority of Wright¹s bariatric surgery patients are women. He says that most of his female patients would have an ideal weight range of 130-150 pounds, but that their weight is usually in the 280-350 pound range.

The surgery Taylor underwent entails changing the capacity of a patient¹s stomach to drastically limit the size of any one meal. Wright says that Taylor¹s stomach will be reduced to approximately the size of his thumb and will hold about two ounces of food at a time.

³The surgery will limit how quickly the patient¹s stomach will empty and the desired effect is to make the patient feel fuller for a longer period of time. The significance of this is that it will severely limit the number of calories that can be consumed,² Wright said.

After surgery Wright says that Taylor will have about a one- to two-year grace period to change his eating habits and modify his behavior patterns before his stomach begins to stretch back out. Taylor¹s stomach will never be as big as it once was, but it will stretch back enough to make future weight loss more difficult.

³What we want is for his stomach to adapt to its maximal degree over the two years. Once the stomach is fully stretched a patient will have to carefully monitor the amount of food eaten compared to the amount of food needed to reach a caloric equilibrium to maintain weight control,² he said.

Taylor¹s goal is to get down to 200 pounds. Wright says that he will consider the surgery successful if Taylor loses approximately one-half of his current body weight of 600 pounds.

³I want to get down to around 200 or 220 pounds. Any less than that and I¹d feel like a bean pole,² Taylor said.