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Life-changing benefits of Bariatric Surgery

Weight Management

For nearly a decade, Castle Medical Center has been changing the lives of Hawai‘i residents through its nationally accredited Surgical Weight Loss Institute, which is now called The Hawai‘i Center for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.

“The new name reflects growing medical evidence that gastric bypass surgery—the ‘gold standard’ among bariatric procedures—brings about metabolic changes that result in dramatic improvements and even remission of obesity-related health problems such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease,” says Steven Fowler, M.D., a bariatric surgeon and the center’s medical director.

“Regardless of which procedure they choose, our patients are finding that within a very short time, they can drastically reduce or even discontinue their use of medications for these and other medical conditions,” Dr. Fowler says. “It’s nice to lose the weight, but the main concern is the substantial improvement in the patient’s health.”

Today, obesity is defined and accepted as a disease, and an increasing number of insurance companies are recognizing the long-term health benefits of weight-loss surgery, making it more accessible than ever. As a result of compelling evidence showing the impact of obesity and the benefits of bariatric surgery in the remission of type 2 diabetes, some insurance policies now cover metabolic surgery for individuals with BMIs less than 35 and who have type 2 diabetes.

Is surgery right for you?

Bariatric surgery has been shown to be the most effective treatment for significant, long-term weight loss and the reduction or elimination of the many diseases that can develop as a result of morbid obesity. Studies have found that the risk of death from obesity-related disorders is reduced by nearly 90 percent among weight-loss surgery patients.

But, as Sacha Mendelsohn, R.N., bariatric coordinator at Castle, explains: “Surgery is not a magic wand; it’s a tool. Patients must be physically and emotionally ready to make lifelong changes, including a commitment to a healthy diet and regular physical activity.”

Choosing surgery is a significant step for every individual. That’s where Castle’s multidisciplinary team of bariatric professionals can help.

As part of the decision-making process, each patient meets with a psychologist, registered dietitian, fitness specialist and nurse coordinator, all of whom are involved in assessing a person’s health issues and their readiness to make the necessary lifestyle changes that are a key part of the success of the bariatric surgery program. Then, in consultation with Dr. Fowler, patients learn the advantages and risks associated with each type of procedure so they can make an informed decision based on their personal history and current state of health.

Lifelong support

Weight-loss surgery brings radical changes to an individual, both physically and emotionally. It’s important that patients are equipped with the tools they need to sustain their weight loss and make a successful transition to their new lifestyle.

“Patients lose the most weight in the first 12 to 18 months after surgery,” says Mendelsohn. “Weight regain can happen for some patients; often it is several years after surgery when they stop watching what and how they eat and resume a sedentary lifestyle. We’re here to help our patients keep on track, for as long as they need us. I don’t think many programs offer the kind of long-term support you’ll find at Castle.”

Leading up to and after surgery, patients in Castle’s bariatric program receive care that includes group and individual counseling sessions; nutrition counseling and cooking demonstrations; fitness classes designed for program patients; and peer support groups that help address emotional, behavioral and other issues. At every step, patients are treated as individuals, with respect and compassion.

The Castle team helps patients reach and maintain their goals for a lifetime. Mendelsohn says patients are encouraged to attend the free support groups and to take advantage of their ongoing access to Castle’s dietitians and exercise specialists in the months and years after surgery. “We are here for them if they need help retooling or tweaking their diet and fitness regimens as they lose the weight and their bodies transform.”

‘Ohana power

“Hawai‘i is such an ‘ohana-oriented community, with family gatherings often centered around food—and lots of it,” Mendelsohn says. “‘Take a plate home’ is a common invitation at the end of such gatherings. And, like elsewhere, convenience foods and portion sizes have gradually increased while calorie expenditure has gone down.

“When a patient has weight-loss surgery, it can have a positive impact on the lifestyle of the whole family,” she says. “Our patients can lead by example and perhaps help stop the cycle of obesity for their children and grandchildren. That’s a really exciting prospect.”

Why Castle Medical Center?

The Hawai‘i Center for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery is a designated Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP) and a designated Blue Cross Blue Shield Center of Distinction.

  • Our program is comprehensive.
  • We offer bypass, sleeve, and band and revisional procedures.
  • Our surgeon is on-island, and emergency coverage is always available. Steven Fowler, M.D., has a high-volume, dedicated practice; maintains an O‘ahu office; and makes trips to the outer islands monthly or quarterly. He is the only local surgeon performing single-incision laparoscopic surgery (SILS) for sleeve and band.
  • We maintain support groups on all islands.
  • The time to surgery can be two months.
  • We accept HMSA, MDX, DMBA, UHA, HMA, HMAA, Medicare insurances and cash pay.

Free seminars

Learn more about surgical weight loss and The Hawai‘i Center for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery at one of Castle’s free informational seminars, offered on O‘ahu and neighbor islands. Call (808) 263-5400 for dates and locations, or just click here to register on line.