If 2020 has disrupted your diet and exercise routine, you’re not alone. The combination of gym closures, increased anxiety, and more hours at home are expanding waistlines. According to Yale Health System experts, gains of 5, 10, even 30 pounds aren’t uncommon.
Extra pandemic pounds add stress during a trying time, particularly for those who were already struggling to lose weight before COVID. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 39.8 percent of Americans are obese; 7.7 percent are morbidly obese.
Maintaining a healthy weight through the COVID pandemic is an important way to support immune health. Per the CDC, obesity can increase the risk of severe complications for those who become infected with COVID-19, including acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
Despite these challenges, there’s good news: Losing weight during COVID is entirely possible, especially with the right support. Bariatric surgery is a safe, permanent weight loss solution that improves other aspects of health. Research shows that bariatric surgery patients experience up to 76 percent resolution of obstructive sleep apnea, up to 94 percent improvement in high cholesterol, and up to 68 percent resolution of type 2 diabetes.
With expanded telehealth options and a new, almost entirely virtual experience, now might be the best time to consider bariatric surgery. “Early in the process, we meet with each patient to talk about their best options for bariatric surgery,” says David Swedler, DO, a board-certified, fellowship trained bariatric surgeon with Franciscan Center for Weight Management, a leading weight-loss surgery center with locations in Federal Way, Silverdale, and Gig Harbor.
This year, with informational seminars, consultations with surgeons, pre-surgery and nutrition education, and discharge education all provided virtually, patients can complete their surgery with just two or three in-person visits.
Safety remains a high priority for the Franciscan Center for Weight Management, with additional protocols to protect patients during the pandemic. “The Franciscan Center for Weight Management is the highest volume robotic bariatric surgery center in the country,” Dr. Swedler says. “We have people come in from all over the state. We are designated by the ASMBS as a Center of Excellence. Certification is a rigorous process and it means we perform high volumes of these procedures with good outcomes.”
Supporting patients both in-person and virtually is even more meaningful during times of stress, says Dr. Swedler. “We support them every step of the way, and it’s wonderful to see how their health improves. Many times I hear that people wish they’d done it years ago.”