January 3, 2013

Weight loss is big business, and it gets bigger every year as the population continues to become more obese. In fact, Americans spend over $30 billion* each year on weight loss programs, products and pills, but the painful truth is the only thing many people lose in their quest to shed pounds is money, not weight.

The Weight Loss Center at CAMC offers real solutions for people who are ready to make a commitment to changing their size and their life.

“Obesity is an epidemic that is far more dangerous than many people realize because it increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, arthritis and other cancers,” said Robert Shin, MD, medical director of the Weight Loss Center.

Over half of Americans are overweight, and more than one-third are obese. The Weight Loss Center at CAMC offers customized medical and surgical weight loss solutions to help anyone struggling with weight issues, no matter how big or small.

“This is not just a diet and exercise facility, this is a place where we explore all aspects of weight gain, weight loss and weight maintenance to help people have long-term success for better health,” Shin said.

Medical weight loss is open to anyone. Care is monitored by a registered dietitian, exercise physiologist and nurse practitioner. Meal planning and exercise routines are tailored to meet each person’s individual preferences and abilities. With a focus on improving overall health, educational classes are offered on a routine basis along with individual counseling appointments. Participants also gain support from other members in the program.

“Whether you want to lose 10, 20 or 30 pounds, we can create a comprehensive weight loss management plan for anyone who doesn’t want or need surgery but is looking for long-term success,” Shin said.

Surgical weight loss options are available for people who need to lose 80 pounds or more, or who have other medical conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Laparoscopic gastric bypass, adjustable gastric binding (Lap Band®), and laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy are surgical weight loss options available at the Weight Loss Center. (Visit camc.org/weightloss for a chart comparing these surgeries.)

“Bariatric [weight loss] surgery has greatly advanced over the past 15 years,” Shin said. “Incisions are smaller, recovery times are faster, complication rates are lower, and outcomes are better. For many people it’s the only option for a healthier, more enjoyable life when diet and exercise have failed.”

There’s much planning and preparation for weight loss surgery long before a patient reaches the operating room. From physical and psychological exams to support groups to checking on insurance coverage, preparing for a life-changing surgery takes time, physical and mental readiness, and most of all, personal commitment.

“Surgery is not a magic bullet or a quick fix,” said Samuel Rossi, MD, bariatric surgeon at the Weight Loss Center. “Losing weight is a lifelong journey that takes a lot of patient responsibility. You still have to maintain it, exercise and eat right. If you go back to bad habits, you will gain weight.”

Weight loss surgery is performed at CAMC General Hospital. Its dedicated bariatric unit offers a patient-friendly environment that includes private rooms to comfortably accommodate patients and their guests, as well as oversized chairs and beds for patient comfort.

“Everyone on this unit, from the floor nurses to the transport staff, shares the Weight Loss Center’s dedication to providing the highest-quality care,” said Mary Colley, practice administrator of the Weight Loss Center.

After surgery, the Weight Loss Center staff helps patients develop a healthy and fit lifestyle in order to achieve and maintain their weight loss goals.

“Weight maintenance requires a lot more work than the surgery,” Shin said. “It’s extremely difficult to change people. That’s why diets aren’t successful. Our team approach to weight loss includes a nutritionist to help with changing eating behaviors, an exercise physiologist to help incorporate activity into daily life, and a psychologist to help manage stress, because overeating is often stress related.”

Support also continues long after surgery. Patients attend monthly support group meetings to stay on track with their goals, share challenges with others, and to help maintain a healthy diet. Patients also can use the gym at the Weight Loss Center free for life to help stay fit and active.

“Bariatric surgery is such a life-changing event,” Rossi said. “You see people not only lose weight, but get off medications for other health problems as a result of losing weight. You see their personalities change. You see them get more active. You see them get their life back. Patients tell us all the time their biggest regret after surgery is they wish they would have done it earlier because they had tried everything else. It’s so gratifying to watch the positive changes this can make in a person’s life.”

The Weight Loss Center at CAMC is Charleston’s only Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence designated by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS). This designation recognizes surgical programs with a demonstrated track record of favorable outcomes in bariatric surgery.

To earn the ASMBS Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence recognition, programs must adhere to rigorous standards established by Surgical Review Corporation (SRC), an organization dedicated to pursuing surgical excellence.

 “Being a Center of Excellence assures patients that CAMC surgeons and staff adhere to the highest standards of care and that the program has a proven track record of providing quality weight loss services to patients,” said Mike Williams, administrator of CAMC General Hospital.

To learn if medical or surgical weight loss might be an option for you, call (304) 388-4965 to register for an upcoming free weight loss seminar or to schedule a private consultation. You can also visit us online for more information at camc.org/weightloss.

*According to the Federal Trade Commission

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