“Often it’s ‘I’m tired of this’ — they want a life!” he said. “They want to get off all the medications they’re on and all the side effects. If you are on 10, 12, or 20 medicines, the side effects are there.
“We have patients who need a new joint, a new knee, but can’t have the surgery because they are too high risk,” he explained. “They want to walk again. After they lose the weight, they’ll get a new knee or new hip and then they can move around without all this pain in their joints. If they have pain, they’re not moving. They feel sorry for themselves and they eat.”
Dr. Ray said as a surgeon he sees bariatric surgery as more metabolic in nature, affecting the various body processes related to health and life. Bariatric surgery not only facilitates weight loss, but prevents the worsening of a myriad of other diseases, including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia and overall mortality.
“We’ve had patients who have been given six months to live and we do surgery, and all of a sudden, it’s six years later and they’re doing well,” he said. “They became half the person they used to be. Their heart works better. They’ve had a reversal of the hardening of the coronary arteries because the arteries can absorb some of the plaque and everything starts working better. It’s amazing.
“People with sleep apnea may come off their sleep mask and sleep well breathing on their own,” he said. “Diabetes isn’t ‘cured’ but it goes away. Your sugar is normal because you’re not eating all that sugar any more, and all those side effects like kidney disease, blindness, renal failure and other health risks are either stopped dead in their tracks or reversed.”
And it’s not just a patient’s health and ability to move more easily that improves after bariatric surgery – often it’s the person’s overall outlook. “They buy a new wardrobe. They feel better about themselves,” Dr. Ray said. “They’ve got a new life.”