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Healthbeat 4: Bariatric surgery options

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Sioux City, Iowa (KTIV) -- The American Medical Association now considers obesity to be a chronic disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it's a national epidemic. Nearly 35% of Americans are obese.

We find out it's not just overeating that is leading to the problem. Physical challenges prevent people from achieving weight loss.

"Losing weight has been a battle. I've had my first back surgery when I was 13 or 14 years old. So I've had two back surgeries so it's been all over the place trying to lose weight," said Ashley Diaz.

24-year-old Diaz hopes to get married by the end of the year. She and her partner want to have children, but her doctors are advising her to lose weight because of some of the medical challenges she faces.

Diaz is considering bariatric surgery, a procedure that helps with weight loss by removing a part of the stomach.

"The interesting thing about bariatric surgery is that it is a field that has exploded in the past five years. So now we can offer patients anything from incisionless surgery, non surgical options, the traditional surgical options," said Dr. Steven Udelhofen.

Dr. Udelhofen, Medical Director of the new Bariatric Program at Tri-State Specialists, says Ashley is considering a sleeve gastrectomy, during which approximately 80% of the stomach is removed.

Dr. Udelhofen says the surgery can lead to dramatic improvements in hypertension, diabetes, and sleep apnea, and it can lower the risk of cancer. He says it can also reduce heartburn symptoms and pain in joints. He says each bariatric option has its plusses and minuses.

He recommends calling Tri-State Specialists to get your questions answered or to make an appointment, especially if you're worried you don't qualify for the surgery.

He says the field of surgical weight loss has been around since the 1960s, but has become a highly sought-after weight loss option in the last 20 years.

Stella Daskalakis

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