No Time to ‘Weight’: Saint Clare’s Health Offers Life-Changing Bariatric Procedures

St. Clare's Bariatric Surgery

Approximately 5 percent to 10 percent of the U.S. population — or some 15 million to 30 million Americans — qualify as morbidly obese, a condition clinically defined by a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or above. This may often trigger potentially debilitating health problems, such as Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiac arrest, stroke, kidney failure, sleep apnea, infertility, arthritis, numerous types of cancer and more — some of which may be fatal.

The medical risks don’t take into account the additional psychological and emotional toll morbid obesity can take on those struggling with the reality and stigma of the disease.

However, according to Alexander Abkin, MD, FACS, FASMBS, medical director of the Weight Loss Surgery Program at Saint Clare’s Health, ” ‘morbid obesity’ shouldn’t be a derogatory term — it’s a disease that’s usually caused by a multitude of factors, including genetics, behavior/lifestyle, environmental conditions and economic status, such that food becomes the individual’s weapon of choice,” he said.

On a positive note, “The comprehensive bariatric surgical procedures and support services available at Saint Clare’s can offer great hope to many of these individuals, driving sustainable weight loss and reducing the risk of related conditions that can cause serious health issues or even result in death,” Abkin said. “Many of our surgical techniques are minimally invasive, offering patients the benefits of surgery with a faster recovery time and quicker road back to daily activity. With specialized, high-quality care and careful follow-up, many patients have seen a tremendous improvement in the quality of their life, including recovery from those serious health issues triggered by obesity.”

A Personalized Approach

Saint Clare’s offers the industry’s most proven and popular bariatric weight loss surgical procedures, including vertical sleeve gastrectomy, gastric bypass and gastric banding:

  • Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy: The newest and most popular of the three surgical options based on the range of benefits it offers, vertical sleeve gastrectomy addresses weight loss from a metabolic perspective and typically drives the loss of 60 percent to 70 percent of a patient’s excess weight. The highly minimally invasive procedure offers patients a shorter hospital stay and a quicker recovery time than older approaches and, “with few exceptions, can be offered to 95 percent of patients as a first-choice option,” Abkin said.
  • Gastric Bypass: Formerly considered the “gold standard” among bariatric weight loss procedures since its introduction in the 1980s-’90s, but since equaled or surpassed by vertical sleeve gastrectomy, gastric bypass is a metabolic-based procedure that typically helps patients lose 70 percent to 80 percent of their excess weight over time.
  • Gastric Banding: This procedure, available in the United States since 2001, involves placement of an inflatable band around the stomach that can be tightened or loosened. Targeted purely at portion control, this nonmetabolic, reversible approach typically enables the loss of 40 percent of a patient’s excess weight.

The aforementioned procedures aren’t offered in isolation, however, as Saint Clare’s specialized program takes a caring, individualized approach toward each patient, evaluating his or her unique needs and preferences, and recommending a comprehensive plan that addresses and supports each individual holistically.

“At Saint Clare’s, we offer all the tools to help patients change their lives for the better,” Abkin said. “Statistically, some 95 percent of diets fail beyond six months because they don’t control hormonal and psychological pathways — e.g., if the emotional aspects of the patient’s food consumption habits aren’t addressed, they’re highly likely to gain the weight back. At Saint Clare’s, we recognize the need to identify both the medical and emotional aspects leading to the weight issue and intervene with both pre-screening and post-surgical care, offering counseling, support groups, coping tools and medical treatment to enhance the success of each patient’s weight-loss journey.”

Because patients struggling with morbid obesity often can feel embarrassed, vulnerable and discriminated against, Saint Clare’s bariatric program in Dover offers a comfortable, boutique setting featuring private rooms and an outstanding and experienced staff. “Our program is truly one of the best and we take great pride in seeing patients get their lives back, resume activities they missed and experience significant improvements in their medical conditions,” Abkin said of the “life-changing experience.”

Though he recognizes that many individuals are apprehensive about the prospect of surgery, Abkin encourages them to attend an informational session about Saint Clare’s bariatric weight-loss program to learn more about the many cutting-edge options and beneficial resources available to them or to view a seminar online. “It’s normal to be nervous about surgery, but the life-limiting medical conditions these individuals face by doing nothing about their excess weight should cause them far greater concern,” he said.

For more information on Saint Clare’s unique bariatric weight loss surgery program, contact Advanced Laparoscopic Surgeons of Morris located at 83 Hanover Road in Florham Park, at (973) 410-9700 or visit http://www.alsnj.com/

Abkin is an experienced bariatric surgeon, who is a board certified in general surgery. He has performed more than 8,000 weight-loss surgery procedures in the past 17 years. Procedures performed include laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, laparoscopic gastric bypass, adjustable gastric banding, ReShape intragastric balloon, revisional surgery, single incision laparoscopic surgery and anti-reflux surgery. Abkin is a member of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons. He also is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He has been recognized as a Center of Excellence Physician by the American College of Surgeons.