As medical director of bariatric surgery at the UHealth Tower (formerly the University of Miami Hospital), I have a keen perspective of the physical and psychological struggles obese patients must deal with and the impact it has on their lives.
I, along with talented colleagues at UHealth (University of Miami Health System), have performed more than 6,000 procedures, and we are specialists in the field of metabolic weight-loss surgery. Collectively, we not only understand the importance of bariatric surgery, but also the vital roles of nutrition, health maintenance, and lifestyle changes that can lead to overall improved well-being.
A body’s metabolic makeup is its basic chemical foundation, and plays a major role in everyday existence. Metabolism is an indicator of the rate at which calories are burned, and chemical composition varies from person to person. Although metabolism influences a body’s basic energy needs, the amount of eating, drinking, and exercise ultimately determines one’s weight.
While we understand the mechanisms of weight gain as medical professionals, we also understand the psychological impact that weight gain can cause, such as lower self-esteem and confidence, as well as being prone to depression and mood swings. In addition, we have observed a variety of obesity-related implications such as heart disease, high blood pressure, dyslipidemia, stroke, atherosclerosis, and specific types of cancer. The World Health Organization describes obesity as a “global epidemic.” It affects the lives of millions, no matter the age, and shockingly, more than one-third of adults over age 20 are now classified as being obese.
In addition to being able to assist with health-related weight issues, bariatric surgery can also help patients regain an active social life. Surgical weight-loss options have helped patients feel more positive about their bodies, gain a renewed sense of accomplishment, feel more attractive, and overcome feelings of depression. All of this can result in a sense of ease when socializing.
Will My Social Life Change?
Your social life and relationships with friends and family may indeed change after weight loss surgery. For many, food and drink were the basis for socializing, but after weight loss surgery, and through nutritional counseling, we help patients find other ways to socialize—where food is not the primary focus. Also, as you lose weight, the results will be obvious. People will notice and ask you about your appearance, so be prepared to share your history and success in achieving a healthier lifestyle.
Losing a significant amount of weight is no small matter because the effects are profound and far-reaching. Post-operatively, life may seem disconcerting and you may not quite feel like yourself. It can be an overwhelming sensation, because you have charted a course that involves a total change in lifestyle. You have made a commitment to stay healthy for the rest of your life. Put away the “comfort food” and be comfortable in knowing that you made a great choice that has long-term benefits.
If you continue to struggle with your new life change, there are numerous support groups available to help you make the adjustment. They can also help you keep track of your weight-loss program. As you start losing weight, you will likely be thrilled with your new appearance.
After gastric bypass surgery, most people can expect to lose between 66 and 80 percent of their extra body weight. Most of that is lost within the first two years. After gastric banding, people lose 40 to 50 percent of their extra weight, also typically within the first two years.
The Affect on Overall Health
Obesity-related medical problems will generally improve after weight loss surgery. These include: obstructive sleep apnea, Type 2 diabetes, gastroesophageal reflux disease, high cholesterol, degenerative joint disease, high blood pressure, asthma, urinary incontinence.
Basically, bariatric surgery patients experience an overall improvement in quality of life—from relationships to medical conditions. But, it is important to remember that bariatric surgery is only one tool to achieve weight loss. Patients still need to make many lifestyle changes in order to stay healthy and keep the weight off, and that is something we are proud to provide as part of our commitment to helping you achieve your goals.
Dr. Nestor F. de la Cruz-Muñoz, M.D. is the chief of the Division of Laparoendoscopic and Bariatric Surgery Department; co-director of the Center of Excellence for Laparoendoscopic and Minimally Invasive Surgery; and associate professor in the DeWitt Daughtry Family Department of Surgery at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. In addition, he is the medical director for Bariatric Surgery at University of Miami Hospital, part of UHealth—University of Miami Health System. He is the founder and surgical director of Miami’s Surgical Weight Loss Institute, and his practice focuses on general, bariatric, and advanced laparoscopic surgery.
Dr. de la Cruz-Muñoz earned his medical degree from the University of Miami School of Medicine, after graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. He completed his residency in general surgery at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, and became chief resident in 1999.
Renowned nationally and internationally, as a bariatric and general surgeon, Dr. de la Cruz-Muñoz has received numerous awards, and been the keynote speaker at many presentations. He was recently appointed to the Bariatric Surgical Review Committee, where he will work closely with other practicing bariatric surgeons to identify hospitals that meet the requirements to become Centers of Excellence.