Art of Aging: Weight loss surgery

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Americans may be living longer than ever, but a rising number of seniors are obese, and suffering from its effects. (WPVI)

Americans may be living longer than ever, but a rising number of seniors are obese, and suffering from its effects.

To look at Robert E.C. Jones, Jr., you'd never know he struggled with his weight.

When diabetes set in nearly 20-years-ago, the medication made him gain weight, and set off a vicious cycle of more medication, more weight, and more medication by 2010.

Jones said, "My waist was 55. I was wearing a man's size 55, at 298 pounds. I'm 5 feet 3."

It brought him down medically, and emotionally.

He said, "Everything was a challenge."

To regain control of the weight and hopefully, the diabetes, Jones opted for bariatric surgery.

Dr. Richard Ing of Main Line Health Bryn Mawr says age is no longer a barrier for it.

What's more important is whether seniors are healthy enough for surgery itself.

When they do have it, the benefits can be enormous.

Dr. Ing said, "It helps people with coronary artery disease. It helps people with diabetes. It helps people with high blood pressure, with obstructive sleep apnea. It reduces the risk of cancer.
There are several procedures to choose from.

Gastric bypass has been used for decades.

The stomach is separated into two sections, and the intestines are divided, with one branch attached to the smaller stomach section.

Dr. Ing, said, "Food comes down through that pouch to the intestines here, and mixes digestive enzymes from the stomach."

In the gastric sleeve procedure, about two-thirds of the stomach is removed.

"The stomach is left in the shape of a banana," said Dr. Ing.

The Lap band, which New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has, is used less often.

Over time, Jones lost 150 pounds.

"That's really shedding another person," he said."

Five years later, Jones says making the changes wasn't easy, but it's been worth it.

Instead of 10 medications, he now takes 1.

Other medical issues have faded away, and his outlook is brighter.

Dr. Ing asked Jones, "You feel more confident?" and Jones said, "Absolutely". Dr. Ing, said, "You feel more self-esteem?" Jones said, "Absolutely."

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Related Topics:
healthart of aginghealthcheckweight lossseniorsMain Line Health
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