The CDC estimates that 73.6% of U.S. adults over 20 are overweight and 42.5% are obese. A growing number of these individuals are classified as morbidly obese, which – as the name implies – is a serious health condition.
What is Morbid Obesity?
Morbid obesity is a health condition that can interfere with some of life’s basic functions, such as walking and breathing. The morbidly obese are also susceptible to a range of illnesses, such as high blood pressure, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), heart disease, osteoarthritis, and cancer.
How Do Doctors Determine Morbid Obesity?
Doctors use a special scale to measure a person’s level of obesity. The body mass index (BMI) scale measures the ratio of your height versus your weight. The formula involves dividing your body mass by the square of your body height. We will express the results in units of kilograms per meter squared or kg/m2. A normal BMI falls within the range of 20 to 25kg/m2. A BMI of 40kg/m2 or more is considered morbidly obese, which indicates that you are around 100 pounds over your ideal weight. Some doctors consider you morbidly obese with a BMI of 35 and above if one or more weight-related conditions are present, such as diabetes or respiratory problems.
How Does Morbid Obesity Affect You?
Being morbidly obese can reduce your life expectancy, particularly when paired with obesity-related ailments, which can include the following:
Type 2 Diabetes:
Morbid obesity tends to make the body resistant to insulin. Insulin is an essential hormone that controls the amount of sugar in your blood. With insulin resistance, your blood sugar can rise to dangerous results, which in turn can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes.
The heart can struggle to work properly under the strain of morbid obesity. High blood pressure can be the result, as can heart dysfunction, which can lead to heart damage, kidney damage, heart attacks, and strokes.
When you become morbidly obese, fat deposits can grow on your tongue and neck, which can make it difficult to breathe, particularly while sleeping. Sleep apnea, a condition where you may stop breathing several times during the night, can become exacerbated by these fat deposits. This can have negative repercussions on your health, such as lack of sleep, daytime drowsiness, and headaches.
The more weight you carry, the greater pressure you place on your joints. Your knees and hips can face rapid wear and tear, for example, which can lead to inflammation and pain. All the muscle and bone strain can also lead to disk problems, back pain, and issues with mobility.
Hiatal Hernia and Heartburn:
Morbid obesity can weaken your stomach valves, which then allows stomach acid to escape into your esophagus. Doctors refer to this condition as gastroesophageal reflux, which you may know by the terms “heartburn” or “acid indigestion”. A rare few can go on to develop Barrett’s esophagus, which is a pre-malignant alteration of the membrane lining that increases your risk of developing esophageal cancer.
Even being mildly obese can affect fertility in both men and women. The weight causes the male and female hormones to go haywire, which disrupts the body’s normal cycles and functions. Being morbidly obese can make it increasingly difficult to conceive.
Urinary Stress Incontinence:
Morbid obesity causes your abdomen to become heavier, which in turn leads to relaxed pelvic muscles. Over time, this can lead to a weakening of the valve on the urinary bladder, leading to urinary leakage when sneezing, coughing, and laughing.
The morbidly obese face mounting emotional difficulties. Depending on the person, these challenges can include disapproval from family and friends, crash diets, foul remarks from strangers, and poor self-image. Depression can result, which can negatively affect your quality of life.
How Should You Treat Morbid Obesity?
Obesity is a disease that can be treated. Your doctor may recommend two primary paths for the treatment of your obesity and weight-related ailments. These include conventional weight loss treatments and weight loss surgery.
Conventional Weight Loss Treatments
If you have been diagnosed with morbid obesity, your doctor may use dietary modification, physical activity, and behavioral modification to help lower your BMI to a more manageable level. Your doctor may place you on a medically supervised diet based on medical evidence. These programs use comprehensive testing of your metabolic system and diagnostics to monitor bodily changes during the course of the dietary treatment.
Behavioral therapy for weight loss focuses on your eating and exercise habits. Your doctor may track your meals throughout the day to determine the environments that tend to make you overeat. Your doctor will also monitor your activity levels. An exercise plan will be customized for you based on your body type and weight loss goals.
Weight Loss Surgery
For many morbidly obese individuals, conventional weight loss methods are a struggle when trying to maintain long-term results. When all else fails, your doctor may recommend bariatric (weight loss) surgery.
There are a variety of bariatric procedures that can treat morbid obesity. For most of these techniques, the excess weight comes off fast, and the results also last long-term.
Gastric Sleeve Surgery
The laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy (LSG) or simply gastric sleeve is a weight loss surgery procedure that involves the removal of 75% of your stomach. This permanent change to your gastric system forces you to eat smaller meals, since the space that composes your stomach is restricted. Your stomach is converted into a sleeve-like pouch using laparoscopic tools. The incisions are tiny and there is minimal downtime.
One of the little-known effects of gastric sleeve surgery is that it affects your hunger and satiety hormones, helping you adopt healthier eating habits. Your doctor will advise you to adopt exercise as well following gastric sleeve surgery, which can contribute to a loss of 50% or more of your excess weight.
Gastric Bypass Surgery
The Roux-en-Y gastric bypass or simply gastric bypass surgery also involves the removal of a majority of your stomach. During the bariatric procedure, your surgeon will then reroute your smaller stomach to your lower intestine. This change to your gastric system further restricts the calories you consume from the foods you eat.
Studies show that gastric bypass can lead to the loss of 77% of your excess weight in the first 12 months following surgery.
If you don’t want to commit to surgery, there is a non-surgical method of bariatric for you. This method deals with an inflatable device placed inside your stomach. The intragastric balloon is placed inside your stomach using a long tube that is inserted into your esophagus. The device is inflated using laparoscopic tools for a treatment plan that persists for around six months. The doctor will remove the balloon at the end of treatment, whereby you can choose to advance to the gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, or continue with another course of treatment with the intragastric balloon.
Get an Official Diagnosis from a Los Angeles Bariatric Surgeon
If you suspect you have morbid obesity, bariatric surgery could be the answer to treating your morbid obesity condition. You can get an official diagnosis. You can also learn more about weight loss surgery by contacting Healthy Life Bariatrics. Call us in Los Angeles, Encino, or Glendale to have a sit-down or telehealth meeting with esteemed bariatric surgeon Dr. Babak Moeinolmolki – (310)694-4486.