Bariatric surgery, also known as weight loss surgery, is one of the most powerful tools we have in treating severe obesity. Bariatric surgeries work by physically restricting the amount of food that can be eaten. Post-operatively, patients feel full while eating significantly less food. The surgeries also affect hunger hormones and can reset the body’s set weight point. When combined with physical activity and healthy eating habits, most patients will lose 30-40 percent of their total body weight over 12-18 months.
SEARHC offers the laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy and Roux-en-Y options for bariatric surgery in Sitka at Mt. Edgecumbe Medical Center. Surgery is not a quick or easy fix. It takes months of preparation and workup to make sure patients are ready for surgery and prepared for the lifestyle changes needed for it to be a success. Patients may move through the program at their own pace; however, testing and appointments must be completed within two years of surgery date. Highly motivated patients take about three months to work through the program. While most visits can be done via telehealth, at least one appointment needs to be in person in Sitka, Alaska to complete diagnostic testing.
Workup for the surgery includes testing and referrals to several other specialties:
- Barium swallow
- Electrocardiogram (EKG)
- Chest x-ray
- Nutritional labs
- Sleep study
- Upper GI Endoscopy (EGD)
- Behavioral Health evaluation and clearance
- Registered Dietitian clearance
“I am no longer pre-diabetic, obese, or suffering from swelling in my hands and feet from sugar intake. With so many comorbidities that run in my family, I felt the need to make a decision to improve my health and life. I feel like I’ve gotten my second wind in life without having to wait 20 years prior to deciding. The SEARHC team was there every part of the way. The whole referral experience for this program has been an exceptional experience for me. The dietitian, providers, case managers, surgery team, radiologist, psychiatrist, peers, and leadership; all have been supportive of my journey, and I am thankful.” – Iveth, SEARHC Bariatric Surgery Patient (Juneau)
Who is a Candidate for Bariatric Surgery at SEARHC?
For the safety of our patients, SEARHC follows strict selection criteria:
- Aged 18-64
- No previous bariatric surgery or procedures (including lap banding)
- Body Mass Index (BMI) between 40-55 for males, 40-60 for females or anyone with BMI >35 and an obesity related comorbidity
- Nicotine free
As the bariatric program at SEARHC addresses the physical, emotional and social challenges associated with being overweight, patients will work with an entire bariatric surgery team. Our skilled professionals will be involved in assessing your health issues and developing an individual weight management plan. Your team will be led by our fellowship-trained surgeon, Dr. James Taggart and include a bariatric coordinator, a registered dietitian, a behavioral health clinician and your primary care provider.
SEARHC offers a monthly virtual support group to bariatric surgical patients on the first Thursday of every month. Members of the SEARHC Bariatric Team facilitate meetings; these meetings are open to those interested in bariatric surgery (plus friends and family) and participation is confidential. Each session will cover a specific topic and allow participants the opportunity to have questions answered and share helpful tips and resources. If you have any questions about Bariatric Surgery or would like to participate in the virtual support group, please reach out to Leslie DeFluiter, Bariatric Coordinator, at Leslied@searhc.org.
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