More people may now qualify for weight loss surgery - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

More people may now qualify for weight loss surgery


WATERLOO (KWWL) -- Nearly two out of every three Americans are considered overweight or obese.  And many people struggle to lose unwanted pounds.  When diet and exercise just aren't cutting it, some people turn to weight loss surgery. And now, more people might qualify to have those operations.

That's because the FDA recently approved marketing the weight loss surgery procedure known as the lap band to people with a body mass index as a low as 30, if they have at least one weight-related medical condition, like high blood pressure or diabetes.  That means millions more Americans could be able to shed their extra pounds.

Bobbie Daugherty struggled with her weight for decades.  Two years ago, faced with health challenges, she began to consider surgery as a way to finally win the battle of the bulge.

"I have a friend who had the surgery done in Texas, and I saw her results.  And my husband wanted me to have it done, and I said, 'No.  I want to try to lose weight on my own once again.'  And I failed.  Then the doctor put me on blood pressure medicine and the reality check hits," Daugherty said.

So in June 2009, she had the lap band surgery.  And since, she's lost more than 100 pounds. 

Now, the procedure that helped Daugherty shed her unwanted weight is available to an estimated 11 million more Americans.  That's because the FDA has lowered the BMI, a number calculated by your height and weight, to qualify for surgery.  For example, someone that's 5'9" and weighs around 203 pounds may now be eligible for the lap band.

"It's a low risk profile procedure, and it's very effective in that weight range of being 85 to 150 pounds overweight," said Dr. Cameron Hodges with the Midwest Institute for Advanced Laparoscopic Surgery.

And in most cases, as patients see the pounds fall off post surgery, doctors see their health problems disappear.

"As you lose weight, we see about a 75 to 80 percent resolution of diabetes, 85 percent resolution of high blood pressure and sleep apnea," Dr. Hodges said.

But the lap band isn't an overnight cure all.  Patients have to do their part to lose the weight.  And once they do, it often gives them a new lease on life.

This lap band, bariatric procedure is a tool you have to work with to reconstruct your whole body, your whole lifestyle.  It's a change, and it's a scary change.  But in the long run, it's worth it," Daugherty said.

There is one hitch with the FDA's expansion of who qualifies for lap band weight loss surgery.  Not all insurance companies have adopted the same standards.  Medicare, however, will often pay for the operation for those over age 65.  Doctors hope with time, more insurers will okay the lap band for those with BMI's under 35, to help curb the country's obesity epidemic.

To learn more about weight loss and surgical options, click here.


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