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LifeBridge brings bariatric weight loss to Carroll Hospital

One of the expected benefits from the merger LifeBridge Health and Carroll Hospital, according to hospital officials, was local access to services that had previously been unavailable in Carroll County. Beginning in September, one of those new services made its debut in Carroll County, as Bariatric Surgeon Celine Richardson began offering preliminary seminars and office hours for those interested in weight loss surgery.

"As part of any bariatric program in this country, an informative seminar is mandatory," Richardson said. "Whereas before they were only offered at Northwest hospital, Sinai Hospital and in our location in Ellicott City, Carroll County is our most recent location for patient seminars."

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The free seminars take place at 5:30 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at the Tevis Center for Wellness, 291 Stoner Avenue, Westminster, and are appropriate for anyone with any interest in bariatric weight loss surgery, not just current patients, according to Richardson. The next seminar will be held on Dec. 13, and those interested should call 410-601-4486, or 401-701-4880 ahead of time to register, she said.

Richardson also holds office hours at BW Health, at 6190 Georgetown Boulevard, Eldersburg. Appoints are available for 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month, available by calling 410-601-4486.

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Bariatric surgery, as those who attend a seminar will discover, is appropriate for individuals considered morbidly obese, according to Richardson, meaning they have body mass index, or BMI, of 40 or greater.

"[BMI] is weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared," she said.

Those with illnesses intimately related to obesity, such as diabetes, hypertension or sleep apnea, can be considered for surgery at a BMI of 35 or greater, according to Richardson.

There are three bariatric surgeries available through Life Bridge Health, according to Richardson, all of which function on a basic principle of constricting the stomach so that an individual feels full and eats less.

The first type of surgery is laparoscopic adjustable gastric band, according to Richardson, where a silicon belt, made adjustable through a port in the skin, can be tightened or loosened around a portion of the stomach to control appetite. Although still popular, she said this method is losing favor.

"It's probably the least bang for your buck of the three surgeries," she said. "Patients will lose on average 40, 45, maybe 50 percent of their excess weight."

Then there is laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, which uses a stapling device to shrink the usable size of the stomach. "That one is quite effective," Richardson said. "That one you lose close to 65 percent of your excess weight."

Then, finally, is the gastric bypass, which Richardson said has been around the longest.

"That one is probably the most bang for your buck and it is the most advisable surgery for people with significant diabetes," she said. "That one you can expect in the ballpark of 70 to 75 percent excess weight loss."

All bariatric surgeries can have very different results for each individual, Richardson said, and the estimates she gave are just generalities. For some people, even those that are morbidly obese, surgery may not be the answer, she said.

"But it has been shown that non-surgical weightless is not as effective as surgical weightless in most people," Richardson said. "Even though it is not the right choice for everyone, it should at least be a consideration for anyone who is morbidly obese."

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