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St. Mary Offers Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery Program
Comprehensive Treatment to Reduce Health Risks Associated With Obesity

LANGHORNE, PA., June 26, 2012 – St. Mary Medical Center offers a comprehensive Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery Program to reduce the risks of medical problems related to obesity and the stress on the body created by carrying excess weight. The continuing increase in the dramatic rates of obesity in the US is a national public health concern that affects the overall health and quality of life for millions of Americans.

It is now estimated that more than 30 percent of adult Americans are obese and more than another 30 percent are overweight. Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of greater than 30. BMI is a measure of your weight relative to your height. A BMI of 25 to 29.9 is an indicator of being overweight. (Calculate your BMI at http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/.) Morbid obesity is a BMI of greater than 40, or more than 100 pounds over a person’s considered ideal weight. Morbid obesity greater increases the risk for heart disease, diabetes and cancer and is considered a potentially life-threatening condition.

And although there seems to be an abundance of advertised diet and weight-loss programs, unfortunately for most, they produce only short-term results. “Statistically only five percent of people who lose significant weight as a result of dieting and high-profile weight-loss programs are able to maintain permanent weight loss,” says Dr. Eric Edwards, Medical Director of the Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery Program at St. Mary. “This minimally invasive surgical option actually changes the body’s metabolism and sustains crucial weight loss in the majority of patients.”

Although the surgery performed originally was called bariatric surgery, it is in recognition that its surgical benefits increasingly are attributed to reversing metabolic diseases that the surgery is now commonly referred to as bariatric and metabolic surgery. The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, which updated its name and mission in 2007 from the American Society for Bariatric Surgery, states that bariatric surgery may be the most effective treatment for metabolic diseases, including diabetes 2, hypertension, non-alcoholic fatty liver, high cholesterol and obstructive sleep apnea.

Patients considering Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery need to understand that it is a comprehensive medical program pre- and post-surgery that involves much more than making an appointment to see a surgeon. They can expect a three- to six-month process of multidisciplinary evaluations and medical assessments. Before surgery, patients will need medical clearance from a cardiologist, pulmonologist, gastroenterologist and psychologist. Diabetes needs to be under control, blood pressure and cholesterol levels should be at optimal levels, sleep apnea or arthritis may need treatment, and smokers must quit. There is extensive counseling and education about behavioral changes and the expectations and recovery following surgery. Patients and family members are required to attend support group meetings.

“Bariatric surgery is the most effective treatment for obesity. But obesity in itself increases the risk for surgery, so all candidates must be in the best shape they can be before undergoing an operation,” says Dr. Edwards.

Dr. Edwards, who has extensive experience and is fellowship-trained in advanced laparoscopic and bariatric surgery, performs most gastric bypass or gastric banding surgeries using minimally invasive laparoscopic techniques. Patients can expect minimal pain and a quicker recovery with this technique and often require a hospital stay of only 2 to 3 days. Most insurance plans now cover bariatric surgery if a person has a BMI greater than 40, or has a BMI of 35 or greater and associated health risks, such as high blood pressure or diabetes. The St. Mary Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery Program is designed to meet the inclusive quality standards required for insurance coverage.

Valerie Batezel, CRNP, Program Coordinator for the Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery Program at St. Mary, relates that as comprehensive as the program is in preparing the patient, it also involved a number of multidisciplinary initiatives to ready the hospital. New equipment ordered includes state-of-the-art laparoscopic instrumentation, OR tables and positioning adapters, and gentle transfer devices. Patient areas were designed with bariatric-compliant furniture and bathrooms, and larger gowns are available for greater patient comfort. And all colleagues at St. Mary receive bariatric-sensitivity training to be better informed of some of the challenges patients encounter.

“Quality outcomes are a focus of everything that we do at St. Mary,” says Batezel. “We designed our bariatrics program to provide the best possible experience for our patients and provide the education and resources they need to increase their success in getting and keeping the weight off permantly. We will be looking closely at national metrics, and utilize best practices and quality measures that are demonstrated to improve outcomes for patients.

The St. Mary Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery Program is located in Suite 310 of the Franciscan Medical Office Building on the St. Mary campus. Consultations for new patients are scheduled by appointment only. Depending on insurance coverage, a referral from a primary care physician may be required. Please call 215.710.5711 to schedule an appointment or for additional information.