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Bariatric surgery benefits are bigger than weight loss

Bariatric surgery isn't just for weight loss anymore. The procedure is working locally to manage diabetes and other serious health conditions. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

Bariatric surgery isn't just for weight loss anymore. The procedure is working locally to manage diabetes and other serious health conditions.

"I've lost 105 pounds so far," 71-year-old Mike Large said. Mike is a lot smaller now that his diabetes is in check because of gastric bypass surgery last year at Mission Hospital.

"According to a new consensus statement from the American Diabetes Association, it would recommend this type of surgery to any diabetic patient with a bmi over 40," Dr. Christopher Edwards, of Regional Surgical Specialists, said.

"I can do things that I haven't been able to do in several years," Mike said. "Just walking, getting around, going up and down steps..."

The weight loss proves only the beginning for Mike and others like him.

"Not only do we see a 90 percent (success rate) in type 2 diabetes with these operations, but we also see a 70-to-80 percent resolution with high blood pressure, cholesterol, sleep apnea," Edwards said.

"It's so much better; I feel like I'm 35 years old again," Mike said of his overall health. "The only medication I take now is vitamins."

Now that he's a metabolically changed man, doctors say his quality of life should continue to improve.

Dr. Edwards said most insurance will pay for people with a body mass index of 40 or higher to have bariatric surgery. In some cases, the BMI can be 35.

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