Bariatric surgery effective for Wisconsinites looking to lose weight

Published: Jan. 3, 2020 at 6:26 PM CST
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Obesity in Wisconsin is becoming a serious health issue.

For the past 10 years, the Bariatric Surgery Department at Mayo Eau Claire has offered more than just surgery and dietary counseling to its patients. The program works to get people to lose weight and transform their lives.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 26% of those in the Badger State were considered obese. That's people with a Body Mass Index, or BMI, of 30 or greater.

Wendy Payson is the Bariatric Coordinator for Mayo Eau Claire. She said being obese can have serious health consequences.

“It puts them at an increased risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea, heart disease, acid reflux, things of that nature,” she said.

The Bariatric Surgery Program at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire helps patients who are dangerously obese.

“We are a kind of multi-disciplinary group that includes behavioral therapist, dietitians, exercise physiologists, bariatricians and family practice doctors that are part to help patients lose weight throughout the program,” Payson said.

The program works to get people to lose weight and keep it off.

Dr. Chris Hower is the Director of Bariatric Surgery. He explained the two most common procedures done at Mayo Eau Claire.

“The sleeve gastrectomy is making your stomach like a banana or long thin stomach,” he said. The roux-en-y gastric bypass not only makes a small stomach but it also rearranges some intestines so there is some malabsorption.”

Dr. Hower says the reason patients are so successful after having a Bariatric surgery, is the commitment to life style changes, the psychical changes that the surgery provides and the support system offered by the program.

“Typically the average patient one-year post operation from surgery will lose about 70% of their excess weight,” Hower said. “We’ve also followed patients 10 years later and they've still kept over 50% of that weight off.”

Hower says the best part of this program is seeing how patient's lives are completely changed.

“Other benefits of having surgery, long term patients are living longer, there are fewer cardiovascular diseases, meaning less people are dying from heart attacks that undergo weight loss surgery,” Hower said. “There are actually less cancers in women who undergo weight loss surgery.”

Hower said while other hospitals may offer this program, Mayo is the only accredited center in Eau Claire. For more information about the Bariatric Surgery Program,